K-12 Teaching and Learning From the UNC School of Education

LEARN NC was a program of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Education from 1997 – 2013. It provided lesson plans, professional development, and innovative web resources to support teachers, build community, and improve K-12 education in North Carolina. Learn NC is no longer supported by the School of Education – this is a historical archive of their website.

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Your classroom is "home away from home" for you and your students. Make it attractive and functional. Consider grade/age level appropriateness, the type of classroom activities you will be implementing, and your particular style. For example, consider the various areas of the classroom and design those areas for use in a variety of activities. The physical aspects of your room include room arrangement, seating, bulletin boards and black/white board displays and physical climate. Each of these should be carefully considered with both individual students’ needs and instructional goals in mind.

While you consider how to arrange your classroom, several things are important to remember. The seating arrangement should be designed in a systematic way so that the organization of the seats helps the students to feel more organized. Sometimes, this sense of organization is helped if students have assigned seats. Make sure the room has only the amount of furniture that is functional and does not contain useless or non-essential furnishings. The entrance to your room and the hallway outside should not cause distractions to students during lessons. Additionally, seats should be arranged in such a way as to reduce traffic distractions. For example, as students get up to go to the bathroom or pencil sharpener they should not overly distract students they pass. Allow plenty of space for foot traffic, especially around areas where supplies are stored.

The physical climate

Your classroom’s lighting and temperature will affect student achievement. They should be should be comfortable and conducive to student learning. Some students need more light than others, some may want it to be warmer or cooler than others. These things will have to be worked out through compromise — and sometimes with the help of a few sweaters.

Generally speaking, make sure that the room temperature is moderate to cool. Warm classrooms tend to lead students to be more sleepy, inattentive, and consequently bored and disruptive. If necessary, use a fan to maintain a good airflow, keeping the room cooler. If your room has windows that open, check to make sure they can be opened easily. Outside air is a bonus for several months of the year.

Make sure that the lighting in the room is adequate. If you have bulbs that need to be replaced, ask the school custodian to change them. If your room has windows with blinds, make sure that they are operable so that you use natural light as an additional lighting source. You might also consider bringing some lamps into your classroom, if fire regulations permit.

Plants are an excellent way to make any room look more welcoming. They also improve the air quality in air-conditioned buildings.