Settling into a New Space

This year began a whole list of new changes in my professional career. After teaching 8th grade Language Arts for the past six years, I made the choice to move down a level to teach 7th. A lot of change accompanied that switch — even more than I realized. But as I settle into this new school year, I’m realizing this could have been one of the best things I’ve done in my teaching career. One of those changes was moving up to the 7th grade Language Arts wing upstairs — a nice, quiet spot!

With my new room, I really wanted to focus on how the space in my classroom is being used. I’ve tried many ways of creating positive work areas for different uses in the past six years, but this year I focused more on what the kids need — what they want. So I’ve been paying attention to where they gravitate these first three weeks. What spaces do they use? What are they asking for? What are they trying to create themselves?

We always have constraints with out given classrooms and furniture, but I’d like to think that we have the opportunity to let the kids help determine what our classrooms look like. Working with what I have, here are some things I’m excited about in my classroom this year.

A conference table. Finally! I have a designated space where I can sit with individuals and small groups in order to conference, and our support teachers can also use this as a meeting place. This table gives me the opportunity to sit across from kids in small group work, or to pull up beside them in a one-on-one conference.

A small group collaboration table. So far, this table has been really popular with kids who want a quiet space to sit together and work.

Tiny nooks throughout the room. If you didn’t know, middle schoolers are their own (weird) little people, and they love to find small alcoves to squeeze themselves into in order to find a comforting space to work. Popular spots so far are under tables and wedged between my supply cart and big cabinet!

Various types of chairs. Over the years, I’ve curated a collection of different chairs for kids to sit in. Last year, I got ride of all my “comfy” chairs, but I still have a tall chair kids like to climb into. I also got a foldable camping stool this summer that has become a popular seat for the most wiggly kids. They can move it around, and I’m not worried it will break with their constant movement.

For my own space, I like my standing work desk. I am not a sitter. I like to stand and work, so this year, I raised my work table so I have a more comfortable space for me. I also chose to use my table with wheels for this, so it’s easy to move around and give more space to kids. I need to keep it a little more organized, but so far, it’s working well!

I’m always looking for ways to utilize my space more efficiently, but so far this year, my 7th graders are finding ways to use the spaces in my room to best suit their needs. And I’m paying attention!

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