Key Ideas for Setting Up Your Classroom Space
How you set up your classroom says a lot about you as a teacher from your teaching philosophy to your perspective on how students best learn. A classroom is so much more than an enclosed space where teaching and learning happens. It’s also a place where students arrive every day with the hopes of being respected and valued by their teacher and peers, engaged in the learning process, and inspired to grow as individuals.
An effective learning environment addresses the mental, emotional, intellectual, and physical needs of all students through strategic planning and design. This includes paying attention to every little detail, from the lighting in the room, decor on the walls, and placement of furniture, to the availability of classroom resources, and a quiet area. Some teachers also like to bring the outdoors inside by growing plants or having a class pet.
When it comes to setting up your classroom space for experiential and movement-based learning, there are some key ideas to keep in mind.
Ensure that ALL students can access the space in the classroom. In other words, check to see that there is enough room around the furniture (e.g., tables, chairs, desks, bookcases) for students to navigate regardless of how they are moving (e.g., walking, dancing, stretching) or if they are using a mobility device? Check out our tips and checklists for how to properly assess your classroom space.
Assess the amount of space needed for specific movement activities from start and end of day exercises, brain breaks, transitions, and movement that is integrated into curricular lessons. Getting students moving can be done while students are seated, standing beside their desks, moving around their personal learning space, or using the entire classroom as a whole class. Utilize all aspects of your space.
Encourage movement as an integral part of the learning process with wall decor. There are a number of wall posters made specifically for teachers and their students that reflect a healthy lifestyle and the importance of daily physical activity. Plus, teachers can create word walls with their students that list locomotor movement (e.g., walk, crawl, jump, run), non-locomotor movement (e.g., bend, melt, shake, push), and different ways to move (e.g., fast and slow, high and low, up and down).
Create a classroom music centre that includes an audio system, age-appropriate and culturally diverse music selections, and activity ideas for music and movement. Music has many uses in the classroom from helping students focus to tidying up. Read about 5 Simple Tips for Choosing Music for Dance in the Classroom.
Traci L. Scheepstra, Ph.D., is the CEO/Founder of Embodied Learnings. Want to know more about her work in education? Read here!