We're back! Can you believe it? The summer has come to an end and we're trading in sunscreen, beach towels, and summer novels for glue sticks, composition notebooks, and professional development manuals. The first weeks back to work are filled to the brim with things to do, spaces to build, and lessons to prepare. One challenge teachers face every year is how to accommodate a classroom full of vastly unique students. While there's no one way to get it perfect, we've put together a list of 6 tips (provided by learning specialists) on ways to set up your space to help support all learners.
Read Through Evaluations
One of the first things you'll want to do when setting up your space is look through your students' evaluation reports for seating suggestions. Some students might need preferential seating towards the front, while others may need seating close to the door, or in the back away from others.
Offer Flexible Seating
Providing a variety of seating choices can do wonders for all students. While some students thrive in a traditional desk, many others work better on their stomachs, standing, sitting on a bench, walking around with a clipboard, etc. I have witnessed some of the most distractible students be able to elicit great focus once offered a different way to work in the classroom.
Posting easy to read schedules, calendars, and daily agendas can not only help to keep you organized, it can help many different types of learners. Having transparency about what is going to happen each day, can help ease anxiety, keep students organized, and keep your day running smoothly.
Curate Your Resources
Anchor charts and posters can be key to many learners' success. Having easily accessible information helps students overcome obstacles as they use this invaluable tool. However, you want to make sure your anchor charts are clean, well-organized and relevant to current topics. It is very easy to take something that is meant to promote learning and allow it to become a distraction if your walls become overly cluttered with charts and posters.
Check In With Others
Your students' past teachers, learning specialists, school counselors, etc. can be a crucial resource in setting up your space. They know what works and doesn't work with certain students and can help you find the best arrangement for success. One of the best things to do is have a learning specialist or special education teacher help review your setup.
Most importantly, know that once the students are in the room and the school year has started, things could…and will change. Monitor your students those first few weeks of school and trust your teacher's gut to make necessary changes.