Please Help with my Classroom!

Discussion in 'Elementary Education' started by prattmb1, Aug 2, 2007.

  1. prattmb1

    prattmb1 Rookie

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    Aug 2, 2007

    I called my school today and found out that I have the worst classroom in it! :eek:

    A bit of background: My school is a small private school, housed in a complex of 3 converted houses. Each house is dedicated to a different grade level. Because they kept the original walls where
    ever possible, classrooms are a variety of shapes and sizes. So, each summer, you shuffle classes around so that they're in a classroom that will fit them. When I had a small class of 10 students, I was in the smallest class in my building.

    I found out that I have been cursed with the largest class in the building this year, meaning that I get the largest classroom, which is also the worst. Yeah, counterintuitive, I know, but listen!

    The Problems: It's the basement, so it's dark and smelly. Especially on hot days.
    It's dark. Did I mention that? Only has one window. And it's nice panelled dark wood, on the bottom half of the wall, with corkboard on the top...making it even darker.
    It's oddly shaped, and only 1/2 of it can view the whiteboard, meaning I'm limited in where I put the desks.
    It has no place for coats. There are 5 hooks. 5. For 20 students. Anyone else see a math problem here?

    Where I need help:
    I need help on how to make it less...depressing. I'm planning to cover all the bulletin boards (upper half of the walls almost all the way around) with white backgrounds. Amazingly, I can use all of these bulletin boards, I'm always looking for more wall space. But what else I can do to help spread out our meager light?
    What can I do to help battle the basement smell, which will be amplified by 20 5th graders?
    Besides getting a whole bunch of milk crates, any idea for storage for their coats/bags. The last teacher didn't have anything and whenever I had to go down there last year, there was the "mountain of bookbags!" against the wall in the corner.
    Oh yeah, before I forget, due to some unexpected financial difficulties this summer, I'm very limited on what I can spend.

    Other than that, I already know basic room layout, I've often wanted to go in and rearrange the room for other teachers, but didn't think they'd appreciate that, so I laid off!:D
     
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  3. patsfan82

    patsfan82 Rookie

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    Aug 2, 2007

    I'm not sure how many outlets you have available, but plug-ins with the timed spray might help the musty basement smell. Maybe the kids can keep their backpacks on the back of their chairs to save some space. Can you bring in a floor lamp or 2 to make it more "homey"? It sounds like it will be brighter since you are covering the bulletin boards with white backgroudnds. Good luck!
     
  4. pwhatley

    pwhatley Maven

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    Aug 2, 2007

    I was just thinking that you could bring some lamps from home to help increase the lighting. I know several teachers who have done this so that they can have ambient lighting when they have the overheads off (while they are looking at the movie screen, etc.)
     
  5. little317

    little317 Groupie

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    Aug 2, 2007

    For the smell: I used Damp Rid when I lived in the musty dorms during college. It helped the smell some without masking it with another scent.
     
  6. pwhatley

    pwhatley Maven

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    If you feel like you have to use something (besides the Damp Rid -- I agree it is good), use Lysol or Oust -- they both get rid of what is causing the smell, as opposed to just adding to the smell with a bunch of floral perfume!
     
  7. 2tired2teach

    2tired2teach Companion

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    Aug 3, 2007

    Well that sounds like a rough place to teach. What about mold?? I'm not going to complain about my room any more - ever!!! GOOD LUCK!
     
  8. patti2

    patti2 Cohort

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    Aug 3, 2007

    How about splurging for a dehumidifier? Since it is private, could you ask the parents to pitch in since their children will be suffering too?

    Also, mirrors reflect light!Hit Big Lots and hang some up!


    -you know those white twinkly Christmas lights? Could you put those around the bulletin boards to make them BRIGHTER and more cheerful! Or that rope lighting? That would be cool down the basement stairs and along the ceiling too! :)

    There are also a lot of neat light that look like dolphins and other things that might cheer you up!
     
  9. mrs100

    mrs100 Comrade

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    Aug 3, 2007

    Lamps, lamps lamps! I was in a classroom last year with NO windows. Horrible. I added lamps to different areas and it really makes it feel more homey. But make sure you get the soft light bulbs, not the harsh light or yellow light. They have a blue hue to them and it's much easier on the eyes.
     
  10. MissFroggy

    MissFroggy Aficionado

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    Aug 3, 2007

    I'm sorry you are in this situation... It sounds like the kids wouldn't like it much either... I agree with what everyone else said.

    Go to thrift shops and see what you can find:

    Since the room already has sort of that 70's vibe with the wood panelling, and you will have 5th grade, maybe try a sort of "groovy theme"

    Do the christmas lights, lava lamps, hang up those door beads, make a loungy area with bean bags and things like that. Also lots of other lighting. The kids would feel like they have the coolest classroom ever.... though I'm not sure of the educational benefits of a lounge-like classroom.

    As far as the layout, try to fit all the desks near the board. Then do another area of the room for meetings, and keep all of your shelving, classroom library, etc. there. I have divided my class up that way this year, as I have a post in the middle of my room, and surprisingly, it worked. I used the set up during summer school. I was afraid it would be too crowded by the white board, but it was fine.
     
  11. Peachyness

    Peachyness Virtuoso

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    Aug 3, 2007

    Your room may be dark and ugly, but I think it might be fun to take on that challange and turn it into a neat classroom. I like littleschool's idea of making different areas in the classroom.

    Lamps, mirrors, plugins, rugs, colorful bulletin boards, I honestly think that you can turn this into a cute little classroom.

    For backpacks, maybe you can buy some large tubs, 2-3 for about 5 dollars at big lots I think) and have the kids place their backpacks in there. For coats, that's a bit trickier. I wouldn't keep coats together in a tub for health reasons. BUT, what if you make it a rule for them to stick their coat into their backpack. Just an idea.

    Good luck and have fun decorating your classroom. I'm sure you will turn it into a neat little room that other teachers in your school will be jelous of. :D Please post before and after pictures.
     
  12. prattmb1

    prattmb1 Rookie

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    Aug 3, 2007

    Well, the school's already put a dehumidifier down there, but it still gets musty, so I'll go ahead and try this Damprid stuff people are suggesting. I've never heard of it before, but it sounds good.

    Alas, no Big Lots close! Which is very depressing. However, I have been picking up mirrors and have a vague idea of doing something craftsy with them. Any ideas?
     
  13. prattmb1

    prattmb1 Rookie

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    Aug 3, 2007

    Good ideas, thanks!

    That's actually what I already had in mind to do. The room naturally divides itself into 3 sections. One by the door, One by the white board, and One by the window. I'm going to stuff all the desks (including mine) in the area by the white board and try to make that as small as possible. Then use the area by the door for coats and bags and some other storage, and then the area by the window will become my "class meeting" space and also where I'll store the class library, and games and toys for recess time.
     
  14. hescollin

    hescollin Fanatic

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    Aug 3, 2007

    Is it possible to add more hooks for backpacks and coats? Add some live plants by the window. Plants make your room healthy.
    Plants are wonderful. Philodendron, Spider Plants and Wondering Jew are easy to grow. There are plants that were tested by NASSAU for their ability to filter and clean indoor air of pollutants such as cigarette smoke and chemicals from off-gassing of new carpeting and furniture, as well as others. Ferns, peace plant, spider plant, mother-in-law's tongue (snake plant), corn plant, etc, are just a few.

    Crack a window a tiny bit for fresh air.

    Buy lamps. Used ones from the thrift shop will work great.
     
  15. SouthernTeach

    SouthernTeach Companion

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    Aug 3, 2007

    I have bought a couple of table lamps at thrift stores and painted them like apples. They really make the room more cozy.

    I would definitely have a "wish list" to give the parents... this sounds like it could get expensive..... I have actually had parents donate items such as bean bags and floor pillows. I am amazed at their generosity.
     
  16. Upsadaisy

    Upsadaisy Moderator

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    Why don't they paint the panelling white? It really turns out quite nice; sort of looks like beadboard.

    Damp Rid is a must. Get the giant container as you will have to refill it every couple of weeks. The spray air freshener I like best is by Renuzit.

    Good ideas about getting plants and lights. Could you get a standing coat rack?
     
  17. hescollin

    hescollin Fanatic

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    Aug 3, 2007

    Pick a color for your room or to go with your theme. Buy enamel paint at Wal Mart. Go outside and put a plastic bag over your hand and arm hold the lamp and spray. Or buy a can of paint, get a paint stick, and can opener. When you get home, go outside and paint your lamps, picture frames, and flower vase. Buy artificial flowers for a dollar to put in the vase to add color. NOTE: Paint everything at one time and have a trash bag and some paper towels handy to put your trash in.

    I have seen standing coat racks at Thrift shops for a couple dollars.
    If they don't have any thing you want this week go back next week and they might have everything. Check Dollar Stores for cheap coat racks, lamps and etc.

    White shower board at Home Depot and like stores for fifteen dollars make great white boards. If you have room to make the white board you have bigger.

    Add a white lace curtain to your window. It will make it pretty and lace will let in the light. You often find curtains at thrift shops for a dollar or fifty cents.

    If you see a big basket at the thrift shop, it will make a wonderful place to put bookmarks in your library. Buy a few bookmarks, make some use clip art and copy on colored copy paper, laminate or cover the front side with clear contact paper and add a pad of the small sticky notes (they make great bookmarks) You can spray the outside of your basket to match the color of your lamps and etc. Or add a ribbon bow to the handle to match your room color.

    Name your classroom.

    I read once where a teacher had a hot pink colored trailer (ugly ugly) and she wasn't allowed to paint it, so she took that lemon and made lemonade. She bought two pink flamingos and put by the door. She named it "the Pink Paradise and the kiddos loved it.

    So probably everybody in your school thinks it is the most terrible room, that is why it is the first thing you have to do is turn the imiage around.

    One last thing. A fan to move the air would be another plus. Also look at the thrift shop. I love those new tall round ones, but they are more expensive because they are the new thing out.
     
  18. shouldbeasleep

    shouldbeasleep Enthusiast

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    Aug 4, 2007

    I painted the ugly paneling in the 1970's house I bought and it does look great--like beadboard.
    And the spider plant really does work to get rid of some odors.
     

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