Give Your Classroom a Fresh Look for the New Year

As the new year begins, greet returning students with a re-energized classroom that sends a message about the exciting learning opportunities awaiting them. “As human beings, we’re always looking for something new and different,” says Kathy Balogh of the Education Market Association. “Any change you can make to the classroom environment that piques that interest and invites your students to explore helps them refocus and pay closer attention.”

Try these simple and inexpensive ideas to bring new life to the learning environment.

  • Rearrange the Classroom: One of the easiest ways to give your classroom a new feel is to rearrange the students’ desks into a new seating pattern and find new spots for the teacher’s desk and classroom learning centers. Create new desk nameplates for each student and brighten up your own desk with new desktop accessories. “The change-around will make it feel like a whole new room,” says Sylvia Lustburg, a veteran fourth-grade teacher at the Elizabeth Morrow School in Englewood, NJ.
  • Display New Posters and Charts: Buy or create new incentive charts and purchase a new selection of stickers for students to record progress in good behavior and study habits. Change out inspirational wall posters and add a pocket chart that gives students an opportunity to get out of their seats and explore.
  • Switch Out Bulletin Boards: Add new background colors and borders, and refresh the content to reflect subject matter students will tackle in the new year, suggests Shana Broders, a fifth-grade teacher at Wake Forest Elementary School in Wake Forest, NC. “I change the color and borders on my door decorations as well,” she says. Make sure all holiday season material is packed away and replaced with ones that reflect upcoming winter holidays.
  • Refresh Basic Supplies and Storage Bins: Nothing signals a fresh start like new basic supplies, including pencils, erasers, whiteboard markers and paper for the classroom. Remind parents that this is a great time to stock up on new supplies, since most teachers have used up the initial items purchased at the beginning of the school year. Colorful new storage bins for supplies and other items also brighten up the classroom.
  • Break Out New Learning Aids: Students returning from two weeks of holiday vacation need some time to readjust to the school-day routine. “Kids will return with ants in their pants the first week, so introduce some new games and manipulatives that engage their attention and review what they’ve already learned,” advises Balogh. Lustburg also suggests switching out classroom books on display in the reading area with offerings students haven’t seen before.
  • Add a New Piece of Furniture or Rug: If budgets allow, add a new area rug in the reading area or new furniture, like a colorful bean bag chair or two, to make a dramatic statement that signals a new chapter in the school year. A new floor lamp or other lighting fixture also adds light to the classroom environment during the winter months.

Linda Morris Gupton is a freelance writer based in Raleigh, NC. Find her on Google+

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