I've been busy setting up my new classroom! Here are some of the things that I've learned and noticed through the process.
First, I jumped off the cute train. Teaching fourth grade for the last few years, I felt pressure to make a gorgeous and cute classroom that exemplified a theme. This year--I decided to free myself from this pressure.
Instead, I put my energy into organizing books.
I sorted all of my books and downsized quite a bit. (I gave my Horrible Harry and Fangbone books to my husband, who teaches third grade...his students will love them!) Because I've taught most of my incoming students before, I know what they like, and I wanted to have a classroom library that would impress them and be new and different at the same time.
This is the group that loved Amulet a few years ago, so I made sure to have lots of graphic novels on display. But I also want to show them more, so I pulled all of the Percy Jackson books from the shelves at home, as well as books by Andrew Clements, Gordon Korman, and Pseudonymous Bosch. I've also added a bin for Nathan Hale's Hazardous Tales, Bunnicula books, and the I Survived Series.
I love my large display for featured books. The collection here is somewhat random--I've put together the books that I bought over the summer. (Can you see that some of the covers are already curling? I hate the humidity!) I'm excited to share Countdown and Mister Max with students this year!
As you can see in this picture, the library is at the front of the room, so it gets everyone's attention as they walk in. I don't have fancy seating in the library area for several reasons. One, it always seems awkward to me to have kids sitting in a place where others are browsing. Two, I needed more space for a large science area and makerspace (more about that later!)
My room is pretty basic, otherwise--and I really like it! After all, right outside my windows I have a gorgeous green bank, filled with milkweed, honeysuckle, and tulip poplar saplings. What glossy die-cut figures could compete with that?
Just today my sons found a monarch caterpillar and a milkweed tussock caterpillar right outside. Once school starts, I'm going to put up birdfeeders to see what else we can entice!
When I stepped away from the cuteness arms race and really thought about the classroom, I could spend more energy on the tasks that really matter. Now I have lots of empty space on the walls for the anchor charts, artwork, and displays that students create.
Students aren't coming into a museum room, but a workspace that they can impact and change. What better way to start the year?