Thankfully, no matter your class size or available furniture, you can still make a math classroom that works for teens.
Make use of what you’ve got!
Decide what seating arrangement supports your teaching style
Most math classrooms are interactive. Practicing math concepts is just as important as seeing them demonstrated at the front of the class. That’s why knowing what your main teaching style will be throughout the year will affect your classroom set up.
Design specialist, Trudie Lawrence from Envoplan, states, “A successful classroom design needs to strike the balance between the teaching method and learning styles that take place in the class.”
Plan ahead to make sure that you have:
Desk clusters are great to inspire more interaction between students for group work and peer assistance. Teenagers are peer driven and setting up desks into groups gives them a personal experience for interactions. Plus, students often benefit from helping one another practice and discuss questions they have about math concepts. Teamwork can be a great way to deepen learning and strengthen your students' grasp on the lesson.
A grouped setup of desks works well for collaboration on relays, team sorting activities, and critical thinking tasks.
As with all classroom setups, there are some drawbacks to clusters. They can create a loud environment and possibly be distracting for some students. Also, some students rely on the strongest student and only copy their work, turning into a social loafer of the group. However, these can often be avoided by moving students around as needed and making sure students also have to complete individual tasks and assessments. Be sure to separate them for tests and quizzes.
Unfortunately a lot classrooms don’t have an overabundance of space to work with, so you have to make the most of the space that you do have. You want to make sure everyone can see the board and hear instructions clearly. Plus, it’s best to have the classroom set up so that everyone can walk around easily with as little disturbance as possible. Find arrangements that will maximize your area while creating an inviting environment.
Try to have desks arranged so that possible distractions are not in students' direct line of sight. Don’t have seats that face windows, hallways, or even the pencil sharpener. All of these can easily distract a student from the lesson. Clutter can also be very distracting in a classroom setting. A few clever storage tricks can make classroom supplies easy to access and less of a mess.
Even if you have created the best syllabus ever and have a great idea for your setup, it doesn’t mean that the classroom should stay the same the whole year. Be flexible in the arrangement and re-arrange it as necessary. The classroom will change as you get to know your students' learning styles. It will also change as they grow and improve their knowledge in the subject.
If you’ve noticed your classroom getting “stale,” include the students in helping re-create the environment. Teenagers thrive on being included in decisions that affect their everyday life. Allowing them to be a part of making the classroom new will give them a sense of community and empowerment.
It is exciting, but also tiring to try to figure out how you want your classroom to look and run. But with a little thought and maybe some trial and error, you’ll find exactly what works best for you and your students.
Try something, and be open to switching it up as you learn what does not work for your students (or you!)
Not sure what classroom setup you want to use this fall? Check out this fun and useful Class Setup Tool from Scholastic. You can play around with desk layouts without all the heavy lifting with this interactive virtual tool.
I’m not one to over-clutter the walls. Some people like to decorate ceilings, desks, walls, and even floors! I believe that everything should have a purpose. Try using student-created posters as decoration that doubles as a reference.
You can even blow up and post the kids’ favorite doodle notes in poster-sized format.
For bulletin boards, try something that doubles as a math challenge or is purposeful. You can display something like:
We’d love to hear from you on this too! What is your favorite classroom setup tip for other middle and high school teachers? Let us know in the comments below.
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Who to Follow for Ideas & Inspiration for Your Math Class
Instagram for Math Teachers:
1. Kacie shares creative ideas, classroom photos, inspirational images, and even Halloween costumes! She is a must-follow for high school math teachers.
2. On the Math Giraffe page, I share creative and different math ideas and resources. See shots of fun activities, blog updates, interactive notes, and more for middle and high school math.
3. I love following Ms. Boyer for her management and organization ideas, classroom snapshots, and math lesson ideas.
4. If you follow along with "8th Grade Math Teacher," you'll get to check out the great ideas she has tried out in her classroom, along with shots of her students in action trying out some great hands-on math activities!
5. Emma shares some unique teaching strategies on her instagram page. You'll love her specific ideas for teaching with hands-on techniques.
Be sure to follow these five instagram accounts so you can soak up a little inspiration for your own math classroom as you scroll through your feed each day!
I hope you love following these teachers as much as I do. For more inspiration, updates, resources, and ideas, enter your email address in the box below to stay in touch.
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Everything to Cover for your Middle or High School Open House -- From Personal All the Way Down to Procedures
Thankfully, it doesn’t have to be all that stressful. We all know to dress well, speak clearly and be cordial. All of these little the details can still make us feel a little anxious. But with some planning and preparation, Open Houses and Parents Night can be nothing but a good time.
Prep Your Talking Points
The first thing you’ll want to do is lay out is your talking points. Think about all of the most important aspects of your classroom and how you want them to be conveyed.
Consider the Doodle Approach
You can explain to the parents what Doodle Notes are and share their benefits, and then they can see how they work first hand.
The files are great for sharing with students on the first day as well. Instead of a boring expectation sheet, hand these out and let them give it a try! They’ll be introduced to the doodle note method and … BONUS… will remember your classroom rules REALLY well!
Hopefully, both your students and their parents will respond well to these as you kick off the school year.
Parent Night and Open Houses really should be a fun and exciting time for everyone. After all, it is the big kick off to the new school year. A new year full of getting to know each other, learning, fun and excitement. Do you have any tried and true tips for great Parent Nights? We’d love to hear some of your advice in the comments below!
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