Having a positive classroom climate is, in my opinion, all about making students feel welcome and giving them a sense of ownership and pride in the classroom. Respect is also a big factor. I teach my students about respect by modelling it in my interactions with them and celebrating good choices using growth mindset language. See my Pinterest board for this section.
The first thing students see every morning when they walk to the classroom is this welcoming hallway. The sensory wall is a project my teaching partner and I started in 2019. We encourage students to touch whichever color or texture blocks catches their eyes. Our kids actually look forward to lining up!
At the start of every academic year, I start students off with a unit called “All About Me”. In recognition of the importance for students to feel a sense of ownership and belonging in the classroom, I try to make them feel at home. I do this by making a collaborative class art piece (to be displayed throughout the year), measuring students’ heights in yarn, displaying family pictures, putting up self portraits and leaving a photo album with pictures of our activities in the reading section. I also put a lot of effort into making the space as warm and inviting as possible. In reality, this unit never truly ends as I keep building on that sense of home as the year progresses.
Laminated family pictures with safety stickers on the corners and our Quarter 1 photo album.
Soft draping and joyful colors are all over the room. What is being displayed is measured, however, so that students are not overwhelmed or claustrophobic. Real plants are in the windows and a small astroturf rug by the window brings in a sense of extra greenery from the outside.
A little reading nook that can also act as a semi-private “cool down” corner, when necessary.
Self-portraits are temporarily displayed as part of our unit on “Diversity”. Letter cards for the letters we have studied are displayed at student height and student names are written in white board marker above each letter.
Student heights are measured and displayed in yarn with their “picture bubbles”. Each student also has some artwork of the first letter of their names. Sorry for the tatty appearance of the papers - they’re placed at student height so students often touch each others’ letters as they study them.
Our sensory bin gets changed out according to the theme or unit we are studying. This is the first bin we start out with when it’s all about exploration of letters and fine motor play.
Organization is key in creating a beautiful and functioning classroom that doesn’t feel stressful to students.
Small clipboards like this with pencils or crayons attached are readily available in the classroom. Students often use them to practice early mark making during pretend play.
When students draw a picture, I ask them what it is and whether I could write it down for them. I then display the papers on the ‘literacy board’ in the play corner. This is a trick I picked up from a PD with Kym Scott on “The Role of the Adult in Extending Children’s Communication and Language” in 2019.