The past few years I’ve been really thinking about my teaching space, the place where I spend more hours than anywhere else, the place where the CI magic happens. A few years ago my classroom was moved to the portables (it was tragic, read all about it here!) and since then, I challenged myself to transform an old, stinky, far away portable into a space that I love. I’ve been focusing on how to make my classroom feel more homey, so it feels like I’m welcoming my little darlings into a special place. (And not the farthest away classroom on campus!)
Here are a few things I’ve implemented and students have noticed! Just look at this sweet letter from one of my little darlings that I got last June:
So, here are a few things I’ve implemented that make it feel less like the Unwanted Portable Classroom and more like my 2nd home that I welcome my students into.
My little darlings have along walk to my classroom, and most of the year it’s a long, cold walk to my classroom. It really adds a cozy feel to put up a fireplace video on YouTube during our warm up Free Reading. And during Christmas time, we we love this one!!
Sometimes my classroom is chilly and sometimes my little darlings get cold. I have a pile of blankets in a crate and kids are welcome to grab a blanket if they need it. I only have 3 or 4 in the crate, not enough for everyone, but just the offer, that their teacher has blankets available, creates a special atmosphere. It says, I care about you and I want you to be comfortable. Grab a blanket and make yourself at home. And they do. And it makes me real happy.
I’m obsessed with tea. I drink like 6-8 cups a day. I put the tea in teacher. And it dawned on me that when I welcome someone into my home, I always offer them something to drink. So, I wondered, how do I extend the same hospitality to my little darlings? I have a water dispenser that I got at Costco, similar to this Hot and Cold Water Cooler(Amazon Associate Link- there are a few more throughout this post… it’s a way to support http://www.senorachase.com at no additional cost to you!) that is my lifeline. Seriously, I don’t think I’d be able to make it though a class without a mug of hot tea (CI teachers talk a lot)
I invite my little darlings to make a cup of tea before class if they bring their own travel cup or mug. Not too many kids take me up on the offer… but it’s the thought that counts! And again, it tells them, my teacher likes me, she wants me to be comfortable in class.
Essential Oil Diffuser-
I don’t know what the problem is with my trailer but it is real smelly! I think it’s the nasty carpets. Or maybe my little darlings are on the smelly side. Or it could be me. In any case, I ordered this ArtNaturals Aromatherapy Essential Oil and Diffuser in August and I’ll never go back to my Pre-Diffuser Dark Ages.
This has been revolutionary! It’s really changed the atmosphere of my classroom. Kids walk in and comment on it all the time. We play guess the scent at the beginning of class. Now that winter is in full swing, I’ve been using Clove , Cinnamon and Orange oil- it smells divine!
(Side note- one of my precious darlings lives in a group home… with her social worker’s permission I set up a Saturday visit and brought a Tea Party complete with a tea pot, tea cups and a selection of my fanciest teas. She was surprised and delighted! When she was deciding on which tea to brew first, she opened Harney & Sons Hot Cinnamon Sunset Teaand commented “this one smells like your classroom!” Be still, my heart!)
Nothing says “institutional” like fluorescent lighting! I have a little lamp on my desk and another one like this in the corner (both Thrift Store Scores!) Students frequently request “Apaga la luz” so they can see the board without the glare and I like how the room feels with the overhead lights off but the lamps on. All warm and cozy!
I decorate my own home for the holidays… so why not decorate my home-away-from-home? I’m always on the lookout for seasonal wreaths at thrift stores and on clearance. I love to decorate for Christmas before I leave for Thanksgiving so when they come back it feels all Christmasy. I want it to smell like Christmas, sound like Christmas and feel like Christmas when they walk into my room.
Are any of these things necessary? Absolutely not! My little darlings acquired a ton of language in my old classroom without any of these special touches. But… all these things make me really happy. And I teach better when I’m happy. And it changes the feel of my classroom. It sets Spanish class apart from their other classes. Figure out what you can do to make you love your space…I can honestly say I love my classroom now (not the location– it’s still really far away…like I’m not kidding, it’s a 1/4 mile round trip to the front office! And the stupid roof leaks when it rains really hard… but other than that!) which I thought would be impossible when I first saw it a few years ago!
If you’re interested, here’s the whole classroom tour.