You don’t have to create Feng Shui, but classroom furniture and accessories — and how you arrange them — can have a big impact on your daily routine, student interaction and collaboration, and even student behavior. Set yourself and your students up for success this year with these three DIY ideas for creating and organizing your classroom furniture. And as an added bonus, they all promote social and emotional learning (SEL)!
Create an interactive learning environment by priming and painting regular tables with special whiteboard paint. Simply tape off the edges of a table, prime the surface, and apply a couple layers of whiteboard paint. Click here for more detailed instructions. Hint: Test your dry erase markers in a small spot on the table before turning students loose — make sure the marks erase!
Use: Students can write and erase math problems and short writing assignments. And, whiteboard tables can promote collaboration. Use them with small groups as a way to encourage contribution from all students.
A few quiet minutes alone can help de-escalate a student’s negative behavior. Create a Calm Corner — a space in your classroom where students can go to chill out. All it takes is a fuzzy area rug, a couple cozy chairs (or try these fun DIY crate seats), and a table. You can also add relaxing artwork and tactile items like stress balls.
Use: Calm Corners can help students learn how to manage their feelings and come up with strategies to calm down. This can be a powerful experience since it helps teach students how to identify their emotions and strategize ways to regulate their behavior. Keep in mind that it will probably take time for students to learn how to use the Calm Corner effectively, but stick with it and you should see increased positive behavior!
A teacher’s desk doubles as a classroom command center. Without effective organization, it can quickly become a disarray of papers and a chaotic mess of classroom supplies. Maximize your productivity by creating a desk organization system that works.
Take time to think through what kinds of organization you’ll need. Here are some ideas:
- Create an in/out box or a fun homework caddy to keep track of student assignments.
- Find a desk organizer with compartments for pens, paperclips, staplers, and other supplies to keep them off your desk.
- Color code folders and binders by subjects, classes, or students. This can be a good way to stay organized, but remember to keep it simple!
- Use large labels. Sure, labeling is important, but how you label makes a difference. Make your labels big and bold so you can easily find the materials you need.
- Get students involved in keeping your desk and other spaces throughout the classroom clutter-free. Holding students accountable for keeping the classroom organized reinforces a variety of social and emotional skills including self-management, responsible decision-making, and relationship skills. Create a rotating schedule and assign students “chores” to keep materials in their proper place.
Classroom furniture is so much more than desks and chairs. There are many ways to use furniture as a tool for reinforcing learning, including SEL. Try one or more of these furniture hacks in your classroom, and enjoy a more productive space!
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