January 26, 2012

Welcome to a new Semester

I have the unique opportunity of teaching at a high school that offers accelerated courses. This means that we offer a year-long course in a semester's time [except for math]. So I get to teach English 10 twice in one school year. Which means that I am starting a new school year next week! I thought this would be the perfect time to review my "Back to School" elements. In this post, I'm going to focus on the importance of classroom environment.

After attending a QLN [Quantum Learning Network] seminar this past Summer, I decided to step up my game when it came to classroom environment. I always had student work on the walls and knew that elements like the temperature and the lights played a role in teaching, but I learned so much more. One of the key factors I focused on for this school year was placement of work & posters. I learned that placing content items [lists, equations, anything that might be on a test] higher up around the room is ideal. This has to do with the actual act of looking up and engaging the brain. I learned too that positive affirmations and less academic items can be placed at ear height. I decided to hang several picture frames with affirmational sayings in them at various ear-height locations around the room.

I also learned the importance of a plant or living item in the room to liven things up and create a sense of home. So below are a few pictures of my classroom to show the importance of placement. You'll note that some of the content posters are somewhat ear-height, and not high up on the wall, simply because that's where the bulletin board was :/

So here are a few affirmational posters. You get get some FREE printable posters on my Printable Freebies page.You'll see they're on the wall, about ear-height.

This is the bulletin board I was referring to. You'll see I have the MLA formatting poster on one side, the 6 Traits of Writing poster on the other, and the Where are you Living poster in the middle. You can get the MLA and 6 Traits posters on my Printable Freebies page. I also keep a space to hang up info for essay contests.

My school has chosen to focus on the 8 Keys of Excellence. They are 8 keys that we should live our life by: Integrity, Failure Leads to Success, Speak with Good Purpose, This is It, Commitment, Ownership, Flexibility, and Balance. I teach the students this on the first and second day and then constantly refer to them throughout the semester. These are high on the wall because they are something I want the students to commit to long-term memory.

One last tid-bit to add to my classroom environment section. This last semester, I decided to do a Wall of Fame. Students get their names written on a blue ribbon when they hold an A in my class. This wall of fame is behind the door, which is open most of the time, making the wall not as prominent. This way I am not rubbing it in anyone's face, and it doesn't become so important that getting on the wall is all they focus on. I found that this was actually a great incentive, especially since I have a reputation as being a "tough" teacher. The students really had a sense of accomplishment when they got on the wall! [You'll notice gaps in the ribbons where I took off names of students who fell below an A. This was done discretely so that nobody knew who's name was taken off the wall.]

Hope you learned a little something about the importance of classroom environment and maybe got a few ideas too! For more classroom environment information, you can visit the QLN website at: www.qln.com