I’ve spend five days to move the furniture and materials from the former classroom and AIM storage into my new room. Luckily I wasn’t creating classroom environment from the scratch, but with the help of full of wisdom theories and methods of Maria Interior’s “prepared environment?’. I wanted to build a house for the children, taking into consideration their deeds and abilities; the house that will maximize the ability for children to learn and explore, to foster independence and social development in the child.
This is why I kept in mind the six principles of the prepared environment (given my Maria Interiors): freedom, structure and order, beauty, nature and reality, social environment, and intellectual environment. I’d like to start my research with an introduction of my new classroom first. And for that I think it might be significant to share some of our campus facility details. In 2012-2013 school years I’ve been promoted to a lead teacher. Our school ritually expanded into a four floors building, and by the time I had to open my new class I still had an opportunity to choose a room on the Ft;bay-too-far” (for that time) third floor.
I’ve got a space room on the sunny side of the building on the 3rd floor. And that first leading year turned to be a very exciting year in my career. I should mention that our campus building is having a huge prism structure with longest sides (sides that have classroom windows) facing south and north. With a hallway right in between of this prism, our school is divided into two parts: “Sunny” and “Shadow” parts. With he time it became crowded. Nowadays all the space has been arranged wisely from the gates to the chimney – all the rooms have been taken -?and classes are battling for the place under the sun.
This is why the next summer our school leaders came up with a procedure of switching classrooms so that each class that stayed a year in a “shadow’ will have a following year on the sunny side. This was a fair enough idea. Therefore I’ve moved my class to shadow side in a year of 2013-2014, having a mutual agreement that I’m coming back to my Old room in 2014-2015. One day, during my MATT summer camp training (2014) I’ve received a hone call from Ellen, our principle: – Hello, Johan, how are you? I’ve got news for you, a bad and a good ones.
Which one to start with? – What’s the bad one? – I chose to listen first. – Well, you are not moving back to your old classroom this year. But don’t worry, you are still moving to the sunny side. – Which room would it be? – The ex-oak tree class. Became speechless for a minute. Have to say that the room we are talking here now, was “abandoned” in the middle of the term by the old class teachers’ and parents’ community. That room had only two sections of endows so it was dark even with lights on during the lunch time in a brightest summer day.
Every time was passing and peeking into this room – I was saying to myself “life is great – I’m not staying here longer than a minute”. And there you go! I just receive news that had to stay in that room for a year. Still , I tried to defend: – Ellen listen, but the ex-school leader gave me a promise that… – Do you have a written agreement with the ex-school leader? -Principle cut me – No, but… – But we have a written agreement with ex school leader and with “Dove” class parents that they are going to move to that room which you were hinging to come back into. Eave realized that I’m simply receiving a message of the decision that has been made prior this phone call. Yes, I’ve been played even a long time before Ellen became a principle, and there is absolutely nothing I could change, especially being away from my campus for another month in AMPS course. “Hem, so I have to dedicate myself completely into Interiors training that is the only thing that should matter for now” calmed down myself, but… Wait a second. – Wait a second Ellen, you said there is good news as well? – Yes. Your new room is under construction.
School is gushing hard to make that class suitable place for study. – Okay, I’ll see it in a month. – I hanged up. Shall I say that I felt down every time was thinking about my future room; about my environment I had none of other teacher would like to have. And then I have received first photos via Weight: The red fence is demonstrating the wall which was removed. Behind this red fence this classroom had a bathroom. But this bathroom was shading so much light, that by the door (opposite window side) it remained permanent darkness. You may ask then -where is the bathroom now?
The designers came up with a reliant solution – they have shared the bathroom of the neighbor class (“Dove”, who moved into my Old ideal room) into two separated toilets. Here is the photo: These two classes’ bathrooms (arched entrance from my room) are separated with a thick 50% transparent, 120 CM high, which provides enough natural light in the toilet and further into the classroom. Removing the old bathroom away didn’t just make the whole room brighter, but it also gave more than 20 square meters of working space! That was an unexpected gift! In his book Deck J. A. Aid: “the environmental qualities of classrooms-?high/ owe, open/closed, big/little, vertical/horizontal-?do indeed affect the learning process in young children”, this is why I’d like to mention the main qualities of the room itself: Working space: 60 AMA. Height: 2. Mm (every room on the 3rd floor is 2. 5 m height; and mm ceiling on the 1st and 2nd floors). Here is what Meyers-Levy said in his paper “The influence of Ceiling Height: The Effect of Priming on the Type of Processing People Use”: ‘When a person is in a space with a 10-foot (mm) ceiling, they will tend to think more freely, more abstractly.
They might process more abstract injections between objects in a room, whereas a person in a room with an 8-foot (2. Mm) ceiling will be more likely to focus on specifics. ” I can’t change height of the ceiling so lees just take it (focusing on specifics) as an advantage! Brightness: 1/3 of my class is lighted up by direct sun rays throughout the day. Another 1/3 is considered as “Satisfying bright” – no lamps needed. The farthest part 1/3 of the class is still “Above average”, lamps needed.
To keep high level of brightness I’ve removed back walls of the shelves that are arranged parallel windows row, so that the room is “see-through” and light-through”. Thermal comfort: Since Thermal comfort is the condition of mind that expresses satisfaction with the thermal environment and is based on subjective evaluation it might too early to provide a judgment in the end of October, however I’m still wearing a T-shirt during morning working time in a sunny day; children averagely are wearing two layers of cloths and staying in a healthy condition.
According to my experienced working in the neighbor class two years ago the temperature, humidity and ventilation are within comfortable level during the winter as well (T>18 C). Comparing to the classes on the opposite “shadow side” where children used to wear winter coats first couple of hours every morning (T=14 C) in winter. Noise level: Our campus located on the west part of Beijing in a very quiet neighborhood away from main roads. Moreover, my classroom windows facing privet hosing facilities which do not generate any noise whatsoever.
Shape: Fat-L: Here is a short summary of Ducky. A. Research of the Fat-L classroom’s type, which says that such type of the room affords flexibility, variability, and is an integrated learning setting that provides opportunities for activity settings. Within the classroom, each setting can be organized to support individual, one-to-one, and small group activities. Additionally, this layout enables individuals to work on one side of the classroom without distracting the activities occurring in the other settings.
While the fixed base cabinets and shelves divide the classroom physically, they afford students working in the other settings and as they walk through the space the opportunity to participate, though from a peripheral position, in the activity. And if you keep the space free of permanent obstructions it will be easy to reorganize the hole class into various sizes and numbers of the learning groups. In my case, I’m going to organizing Interiors class according available activities (PL, Censorial, Math, Art, Language, Library, Dramatic play, Active group exercises, Science, Nature corner, Food center) .
Here are the photos of the our Fall-L classroom: In my research I’m going to call the area that forms long straight line in the letter “L” as “Area A” (from the main door to the windows row) I’m going to call the area that forms short base in the letter “L” as “Area B” (from the Math shelves to the children’s personal cabinets, including the entrance into the toilet). Classroom plan (Before changes) Based on the environmental qualities that are giving to me with this room I have prepared Interiors classroom for a new 2014-2015 school year for the children mixed age group 2 h -6 years old.
I’ve spend five days to move the furniture and materials from the former classroom and from the AIM storage. My data (observation logs) Things that were working well: Practical Life area was very popular in general, the row of shelves that is arranged in the middle of the area “A” has no back wall, which allows to approach PL the materials from both sides. Library and Language materials are placed near the window that is providing enough sun light to have successful visual special activities (matching, writing and reading).
Math shelves are placed away from the rest of the materials in the area “B”, which allows to have an individual or one-to-one mathematic activity, that would require concentration. Censorial is near by the centre open space (later centre rug), this fact help all the children often work with Censorial materials. The social environment supports individual, one-to-one, small group, and large group activities (lots of “tea-parties”, children are working at tables in rope of four- numbers of the chairs at a table). Here are the main issues of the environment that came up during my observation sessions: A.
Area “A” is too crowded and therefore Often noisy and messy. B. Some children do run through the class (some fall). They run from the toilet in area “B” and through the long alley of the area “A”). C. Some materials are seldom used (or not used at all). D. On the contrary of the “c” – some of the art materials are wasted or not used properly (glue, paper, markers, and other rare collage items (shells, pipe cleaners, wiggly eyes, etc. )). E. Children are not using area “B”, or they are sing it to “hide”. F. Week and messy food preparation/snack activities.
G. Lack of floor mats (only 6 mats). During our team discussion with Sabina and Amy we have added couple Of more problems in the list to solve, such as: H. Art shelf is blocked by one of the tables, causing traffic and difficulty clean up, to pick up and put away materials. I. Not organized snack time procedure and other transitions (lining up, washing hands). J. Lack of plants and other nature objects in the class (not enough to make a big class as mine – 27 children – to keep care of the plants: watering dusting and simply enjoying its existence.
K. A new center rug – gift from school (all my team is against that piece of environment). “Environmental changes” – team discussion. Have gathered my team on September 30th (last working day before October national holidays break) for 60 minutes discussion about changes we have to make in our environment. The discussion was started by me, exposing all the issues I’ve taken evidence of not only during my nine scheduled observations, but the questions I kept concerns even before observations.
Sabina Ghana and Amy added their ideas to the list (written above), and after hat we have stared our discussion of possible solutions. During our next classroom meeting (after national holidays) we have discussed of the changes timing terms and shared responsibilities to have all the necessary preparations if needed. Here is what we came up with. K) The Center rug (it came in the end Of September as a school’s gift). My solution. The center rug was the only items that broke our solidarity during the discussion – all the teachers in the class were against the rug (and against me, since I’ve trying to keep it).
Other teachers were septic about benefits of his item: “too big, too round, too green, can’t roll, can’t move” they kept protesting (not just during our discussion day, but day after day). And I’ve answered “Let’s wait and see how children will react on such a big surprised addition in our environment! ” At the begging all the children were super excited to see such a lily pod in our class. They ran, they dropped, they rolled, they jumped. That not what we expect to see in Interiors class, but had some faith in children.
Besides, the rug was so attractive that I myself wanted to stretch on its soft surface. A)+B)+H) Tables and seats (consolidated solution). The two lines of three square tables both on the left and right sides of the area “A” were giving symmetrical and proportional look to that area. Personally like it, but we had to experiment and solve problems that it causes: running alley, crowdedness in the area “A”, blocking art shelves. Here is the set of changes we have discussed to take: Invent the concept of “seats per table” by having a sticker on the table -a “working place” sign.
That way we can regulate the number Of children at a table during morning and afternoon working time and as a result the working seats in the whole “area A”. However we have to move unnecessary chairs away after breakfast. (Yellow circle at the side of table). Move the “Art Table” that was blocking the access to the art area out of the “table line” onto the path of “running alley” between two shelves, near by a plant. Provide this table with three yellow circles – three working seats (so it would block more space on the “running alley’). Two solutions with a single move!
C) Materials that are seldom used (my solution) Easel stand. It was located next to teacher’s table for two months. I personally used it during whole class group times to model drawing and writing, and I valuate the effect of using it “above average”, since children were willing to participate “I spy letters game” and “printing letters” activities. But this was it no child choose an easel to work during Interiors working time (nor black board, nor painting). Our decision is to move the easel into an open area, next to art shelves, to bring children habit of using it. Metal Insets.
No child had Metal Insets work in a month of September. There were pencils, CACM paper sheets, trays and pencil stands. Our solution is to display Metal Insets samples on the wall next to the Metal Insets work. D) Wasted Art Materials (Sprain’s solution) Limit the art supplies to a certain number, according to the planned theme activities. Promote Sabina Ghana to control art area. In addition, we may direct the flow of imagination and creativity that develops through the art activities to another sites of the classroom by creating opportunities to use that imagination, which in our case would be – Dramatic Play area(s).
And here we move to the (E). E) “Hide and seek” in the area “B” (consolidated) The whole area “B” was taken by children as a little COZY vestibule: they change their clothes and may stay for a chat with their mates. Some children who had emotional troubles in separating with their parents were “hiding’ next to their scabies for 30-60 minutes. The area was not small, but still not big enough to attract having a work on the floor. The large table was hidden behind math shelves and mostly ignored by the students.
The solution I’ve advised was to move Math shelves closer to the center rug (now that rug vividly distinguishes the “soft-sitting-lying-playing-group work” area, from the rest of the room. So we kept enough space on the side of area “A” to freely move back and forth and to approach materials on the shelves; t the same time we have visibly enlarged area “B” space, so that it could be considered as a cozy place to have a small project that may require extra isolation and concentration.
Besides we have installed two Dramatic Play sites: building blocks with roads and transportation; and the “Restaurant” setup with cooking desk, dining table and cashier. In our expectations we wanted to have averagely 5 to 7 children busy in the area “B”. Working places (area “B”) Before changes After changes Seats at the table Dramatic Play 5 Total Max F) Food preparation. (Amoy’s solution) ad concerns of snack/food preparation habits in the class.