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Classroom Beautiful - Kit Noonan

Kindergarten Teacher, Carderock Springs Elementary, Bethesda, Maryland

Found In: classroom setup

I’ve taught kindergarten, second, third, fourth, and fifth grades.

In setting up my classroom, I try to think like children: I want it to be friendly, comfortable, warm, and inviting. I think about what will work for them.

I consider height: Anything I want them to notice is three feet from the floor or lower. My alphabet is above the chalkboard because that’s the only place I could find uninterrupted wall space. But they don’t ever look up there unless I point to it.

I want it to be useable for them: “These are resources available to us. You don’t need to ask me to get them. You know they’re there for you. Unless I tell you otherwise, everything here is here for you.

If it’s not, I put a note on it: this is off-limits. Everything is labeled, everything has a place.

They each have a seat, and maybe once a day, for 10 minutes, they will do something there, but otherwise, they should feel safe and comfortable anywhere in the classroom. I try to give them as much control over their environment as possible.

Things in blue cubbies go home, things in red cubbies stay in school. Everything’s very routine. My kids know what we’re doing, what we did, what’s next, and where it will take place. You can ask any kid and they’ll tell you: We’re at literacy stations. Here’s how we do it.”

It’s an upper middle class neighborhood. Two working parents is the typical home situation, but I have parent volunteers because they have flexibility in their jobs. They’re not punching a time clock.

My first four years in the county, I was in a much lower income community and I had one parent volunteer who came once a week for half an hour. The facility was beautiful, but it was just me and the kids. We knew where everything was.

But now, there are different adults in the room at all different times, so everything needs to be understandable and accessible to all. Now, anybody could walk in and find anything they need.

We get $150 or so to buy supplies, given to us by the PTA. (When I was in a poorer community, we didn’t get anything.) I spent a ton my first few years. I’ve been in the county 11 years, and I still spend at least $1,000 per year. I buy books on tape, paper nametags, things I need for little projects. The warehouse has basic stuff like paints, but not puffy letter stickers, or cute pens that will motivate kids.

 

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