Back to School: Creating a Welcoming Classroom
August is still here, but it will soon be school time again! So, you may be wondering how to help students see the future school year in a positive light. Well, the environment we create for our English language learners is as important as what we teach and the strategies we use. All recent studies indicate that high-quality classroom environments spur creativity and help students to feel more motivated to engage in the learning process. So, before another school year starts, let’s find out how we can create a happy place for all learners!
- The Seating Chart
It goes without saying that desks arranged in neat, orderly rows make movement throughout a classroom easier. However, sitting in a row of desks in front of a teacher may feel intimidating to a school-aged child.
A horseshoe-shaped formation or flexible clusters can help to create a more friendly and inviting environment. After all, a more student- centred classroom design - away from traditional classroom layouts - is more conducive to 21st-century learning, where collaboration, communication and project-based activities are becoming the norm.
So, when rethinking your classroom design, look for ways to provide comfortable and collaborative spaces. In any case, bear in mind that all students should be able to move around easily.
- The Decorative Touches
- Most classrooms tend to be cold and bare areas until they are decorated. That’s because adding a splash of colour can bring life to a sterile environment and create a positive learning place. Keep in mind that light blue and green can help learners to feel calm, while dark colours may make them feel drowsy.
- A bright and vibrant corner with things students need but often forget, like pens and sharpened pencils, highlighters and post-it notes is always a good idea. A white wall where students can present and hang their work throughout the academic year is essential, too. And don’t forget to use a large bulletin board where items, collages and students’ projects on English culture can be pinned! Last but not least, a reading and educational board games nook will always make a classroom much more interesting.
- Motivational posters with success quotes not only help to inspire English learners to study harder, but they also reinforce a positive culture. For example, ‘It always seems impossible until it’s done’ is a quote by Nelson Mandela that could work wonders in a classroom! But stay away from posters with negative words and expressions that tell students what not to do. For example, instead of a ‘No bullying!’ message, prefer a ‘Be a hero and help them all!’ approach.
- Plants can also help to add warmth and comfort to a class environment, and numerous studies have shown that adding a pet (like fish or a tiny hamster) to a learning environment has a positive effect on the psychology of students. However, some of your students may suffer from allergies, so you should check with them before adding a new plant or pet to the classroom.
- The Health & Safety Factor
In the age of coronavirus, this is a factor that cannot be neglected. Since older students are more likely to remember to follow health and safety protocols than younger ones, why not use a colourful poster to remind all your English language learners to always wash their hands after breaks and to use hand sanitizers? Portable hand-sanitizing stations at main entrances can also promote regular hygiene, especially if you have lots of young students who have an almost infinite capacity for making messes and spreading germs!
Sometimes, even the smallest of changes can make a big difference in a classroom environment. So, are you ready to help your students feel empowered to learn?
Do you have any other suggestions for creating a welcoming and inviting classroom environment? Just add them to the comments below! And don’t forget to spread the word; give this article a quick share on your favourite social media site!
If you liked this, you might also enjoy the article 5+1 WAYS TO BECOME A BETTER ENGLISH TEACHER.