Posts Tagged ‘Classrooms’

I Give Myself an F for Classroom Design

December 7, 2014


I have a terrible case of classroom envy.

Whilst my colleagues dazzle with their colour coordination and classroom layout, I am extraordinarily inept in this department. Although an appreciative parent once said after I apologised about the look of my classroom, “I love what you’re doing with my child, I don’t give a stuff what your classroom looks like”, I feel like I am letting down my students. I also realise that the look of a classroom is a reflection of the amount of pride the teacher has for his/her room. I am ashamed at how badly my classroom’s look reflects what I really feel about the room and my wonderful students.

A video like the one above depresses me. I accept it was made to help teachers like me, but I know that copying these wonderful ideas would take me weeks if not months to carry out and the finishing product would be vastly inferior.

Is there any other teacher out there who finds setting up a classroom as stressful as I do?



Click on the link to read Would You Want Your Teacher Chair Replaced by a Yoga Ball?

Click on the link to read Worst Examples of Teacher Discipline

Click on the link to read Why Students Misbehave

Click on the link to read Being a Teacher Makes Me Regret the Way I Treated My Teachers

Click on the link to read Useful Resources to Assist in Behavioural Management

Portraits of Classrooms From Around the World

October 3, 2012

Courtesy of the brilliant photographer Julian Germain and

Brazil, Belo Horizonte, Series 6, Mathematics

Taiwan, Ruei Fang Township, Kindergarten, Art

St. Petersburg, Russia. Year 2, Russian

Tokyo, Japan, Grade 5, Classical Japanese

Lagos, Nigeria. Basic 7 / Junior Secondary Level 1, Mathematics

Qatar, Grade 8, English

Bahrain, Saar, Grade 11, Islamic

Peru, Cusco, Primary Grade 4, Mathematics

More portraits can be found by following the link above.

Click on the link to read Top Ten Funny Excuses For Being Late To School

Click on the link to read 7 Tips for Transforming Your Classroom

Click on the link to read 2 Kids Outsmart 3 Robbers

Click on the link to read the 100 Skills Parents Should Teach Their Children

Classroom Free Schools

June 7, 2011

Why is it that just about every idea for improving teaching and learning borders on the extreme?  The idea of removing classroom walls from the classroom, and having up to 200 students occupy the same learning space is pure madness.  The school will tell you it’s working well and that kids aren’t distracted (would they tell you it was a failed experiment, and that the students have suffered because of it?)  How can a school that can afford proper classrooms think for a second that having a’ battery chicken’ approach to education is ideal?

I must be crazy, because they swear it is working:

THE blackboard has already gone from most NSW classrooms. Now, the head of a big school system is determined that the classroom itself joins it in the scrapbook of history.  ”It’s dead,” said Greg Whitby, the executive director of 78 schools in the Catholic diocese of Parramatta, which 42,000 students attend.  He is not alone.

The Sydney diocese has embarked on the same path for primary schools. Forty of the 112 primary schools already use large-form learning areas instead of classrooms and the diocese is keen to expand their use.  

Mr Whitby hopes to close the last classroom within five years, part of a transition to ”agile learning areas”, open-plan rooms where much larger groups – sometimes even the whole school – learn under one roof.

”Everyone thinks we’ve got a barn with 200 ferals running around and teachers screaming,” Mr Whitby said. But what the Herald saw – and heard – last week at St Monica’s Primary at North Parramatta was a mega classroom in which 197 students worked in different-sized groups at a range of tasks at the same time, seemingly without disturbing each other.

In one moment kindergarten children were learning to read and follow a recipe in the kitchen; a dozen children were working on laptops; 30 were watching video trailers they had produced; others were dressing for a play and many were at round tables on a variety of tasks.

Noisy? Certainly it is noisier than a traditional classroom but the children did not appear to be distracted. Mr Whitby and the teachers say discipline has improved since the school changed shape, assisted by funds from the Building the Education Revolution scheme.

The assistant principal, Mary-Jo Mason, said there were fewer behaviour problems: ”You really don’t have children off task.”

Mr Whitby attended a very different St Monica’s in the 1950s. ”It was in the mechanistic age when it was all about control and order with the assumption that the teacher knew everything,” he said. Teachers not only controlled students, they were also kept in strict control.

”We’ve micro-managed teachers’ work for too long. As soon as you take that control off, the creativity comes and they’re really focused on how they can do the job better,” Mr Whitby said.

Teacher-student ratios are unchanged and Ms Mason said better use could be made of auxiliary staff such as librarians and learning support workers. She believed students received more individual attention.

The transition to increasingly big learning areas covers the system from kindergarten to year 12 and is well advanced, despite resistance from parents, some of whom have voted with their feet.

”Parents have got to get used to the idea, because they all had their own teacher, 30 kids and a blackboard out the front,” said one father, Jason Jones.

Peta Capello attended a parents’ forum which ventilated frustration with the new order. ”In the real world when you go to work, are you in a small, closed room with rows of desks?” she asked. ”It can get noisy and you can have an annoying person near you and you have to learn to deal with it. That’s the real world.”

Classrooms with 25 kids get noisy.  You add another 170 odd students and you’re asking for trouble.  How does this meet the needs of easily distracted, anxious and special needs students?  Is there any teacher out there that would volunteer to teach in this sort of arrangement?  I credit the diocese for trying something new, and I hope it continues to work for them, but I wonder why they needed to reach for such an extreme change.

Balance and common sense is missing from education group think.  When the novelty of this program fades and the 200 kids start acting like … kids, the schools that take this idea up will be left wondering what to do next.

My tip:  Make sure your idea is sensible, well planned, balanced and puts the interests of the students first.

Do You Suffer From Classroom Envy?

February 1, 2011

There have been a few realities that have caught me off guard since I signed up to being a teacher. The expectation of a meticulously presented classroom is certainly one of them. I’m not an artistic person. My creativity comes from writing and thinking innovatively, but I am inept at decorating. Design school’s nationwide are not flocking to mimic my inimitable low-key style.

I knew that a classroom should look bright, contain student work and be aesthetically pleasing. What I didn’t know, that I have seen learned, was that teachers are inherently obsessive with the look and feel of their classroom. From the table layout to the perfectly hand-crafted posters and signs. Teachers are constantly shopping for material, furniture and accessories to beautify their classroom.

Often it’s a competition. The other day I complemented a colleague about her majestic looking classroom in the presence of another colleague. Only later was I told that by praising that colleague I had potentially upset the other who was already anxious about her classroom not matching up to others aesthetically.

It reminds me of the Christmas lights battle that takes place in some neighbourhoods. What starts out as an expression of good will and festivity, can sometimes turn in to a competitive slugfest. I am not a competitive person at the best of times. In this context, my classroom isn’t simply inferior, compared to the others it looks like a jungle.

My bosses past and present have continually made insensitive comments about the look of my classroom. It’s not as if I don’t try. Sure, it doesn’t size up to the others, but I still maintain it possesses a quaint charm (well that’s my spin on it anyway).

I once apologised to a parent about the look of my classroom during a meeting. The parent responded by pointing out that she doesn’t care what the classroom looks like, just as long as her child is happy and learning well.

Is that representative of other parents? Is it a case of style vs substance? Or, perhaps I am depriving my students of a classroom they can be more proud of. Perhaps like my students I have to improve at skills that don’t come naturally to me. I have to get better at cutting big, beautiful, cardboard letters for my brightly coloured welcome sign.

Is this just my experience? Are there other teachers who have an insecurity over the look of their classrooms? Are any of you envious of the classroom next door?

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