Give it a go - Experiment with classroom space

24th February 2006 at 00:00
Sue Cowley offers practical advice on managing your class and delivering your lessons.

Hopefully, you are starting to feel like a proper teacher by now and starting to claim your classroom space as your own. Take some time this term to develop and improve on the management of your teaching space. This will have a surprisingly powerful impact on the way your children learn and behave.

* Personalise the space: Find ways to get the children viewing the room as your territory. Greet them at the door at the start of the day or lesson, welcoming them into the room under your terms, not theirs. If you feel that you "lost" your class a bit towards the end of last term, rearrange the furniture. This will help your pupils take a fresh perspective on what happens in the room. If you're unlucky enough not to have a teaching space of your own, you might be finding it tricky to manage. Make the best of a bad job. Ask for storage space in each room where you teach and involve your pupils in helping to move books, equipment and resources.

* Give the children a sense of ownership: You want your class to feel that this is their space as well, particularly if you tutor a form group in the room. The more they feel ownership of their classroom, the more likely they are to take care of the environment and the resources in it. Create teams with responsibility for keeping different areas tidy; you could ask your pupils to bring in photos of themselves to go on an "our class" display, or to draw their own designs for a new layout.

* Don't be afraid to make changes: Classrooms often stay looking similar for years and years because no one thinks to change them. Consider how well the space works for you and your children. A few small changes, or even a complete rearrangement, could be invaluable for promoting more effective teaching and learning. Plan any major changes on paper and ask for help when moving large furniture.

* Sit in your children's shoes: Look at the space from your pupils'

perspective, physically sitting in their seats when the classroom is empty.

Check for any blind spots and ensure that all pupils can see the whiteboard.

* Watch your own use of space: Learn to be reflective about how you use the space. We often teach to our dominant side (that is, to the right if we are right-handed). This means that some pupils get less of your attention than others. Be aware of where the troublemakers sit - usually in the back row.

Keep moving around the room during the lesson, teaching at least some of the time from the back.

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