Michael’s Space: A High School Teacher Reflects on Setting Up His Classroom

“This is going to be your classroom next year.”

My mind went in overdrive when I first heard this. My own classroom. Here. In this room. No more traveling. A place to decorate. A space to create.

How should I make it? How can it be set up?

The room itself is on the smaller side. With the 26 desks in rows (as I had seen it), there was just enough room to walk. But that is not how I planned to set it up anyway. It felt way too cluttered. Plus rows are not really my style.

But what is my style? Small groups? Horse shoe? Facing each other? How could I best use the space? How could I make it mine? Ahh!

Feeling a bit lost as I was thinking about it, I decided that the only logical way to set it up was by a replica and test out seating patterns. It just seemed to make more sense. Besides, how often do you get to make a diorama. With my decision made, I went to the school with a measuring tape not only to get the room measurements, but to measure the seats and door too!

After creating my model, I decided that I did not want just one room set up. But really needed a few. With the, I created 3 different major formations.

Formation 1

Formation 1

Formation 1 is my main formation. While all are facing forward (towards the door), this easily allows students to work independently or in a small group (across). This allows for plenty of space to move about the class.

Formation 2

Formation 2

Formation 2 is set up for cooperative grouping. When making groups, I do try to ensure that they are with students from around the room – to vary the people they work with than simply those who sit near them.

Formation 3

Formation 3

Formation 3 is for testing. You can see the issue with spacing. This is how the room was initially set up.

There are also a handful of miscellaneous formations for debates and trials, but they get lumped into variations of Formation 4.

By the end of the second week, students become familiar with the different formations and can rearrange the room in about 2 minutes – which gives me flexibility to use a variety of them in the same period.

Formation 1 TVFormation 1 Yellow Wall

Above is a look at my classroom today! Literally this morning! This is Formation 1. Ideally you can see that there is space to move about.

With this, I’ll point out two things.

  1. In the front of the classroom is a rather large television. Instead of a projector, last year I was given a TV for the front of my classroom. As we are a 1:1 iPad school, I connect to it through an Apple TV. This makes it easy to project via my or my students iPads – or by using my MacBook Pro. This has been a rather neat set up and my students have been happy at the resolution. We’ve been able to examine artwork like we never could using the screen.
  2. Last week, I painted an accent wall! This has made my room pop with colors. It also provides a neat background for the posters that I made this past year – here is a link to more of my silly digital creations. [There is also space for a contest that I will be running for students to design their own digitally altered images, but that’s for another day.]

So that is my space! It’s always developing as I do.


Post written by New Member Committee Member Michael Milton

You can follow Michael on Twitter: @42ThinkDeep

Follow MTA New Members on Twitter: @MTANewMembers and find us on Facebook!


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