The classroom can be like a maze if you don’t have it set up in a way that is organized. Between student desks, tables, and various other areas of your classroom, it can be easy for a traffic jam to happen. Top all that off with elementary students loving to huddle together, and it can get to be a pretty big mess in a hurry. That’s why it’s important to have easy movement in your classroom. How can you make sure your classroom is organized for easy movement? Follow these five tips!
Easy Movement in the Classroom Starts with Good Habits!
How many of your students get up and walk around their chairs without pushing them in? I know this is something many of my students struggle with because their mind is on whatever they are getting up for. However, having chairs left out can cause other students to trip over them, be tempted to stand on or jump over them, and have a number of other safety concerns. This can be controlled just like any other classroom management issue. To make sure you have easy movement in the classroom, teach your students from day one to push in their chairs. You can do this with visual reminders
Create a Traffic Route for Easy Movement
Why don’t we have more head-on collisions while driving than we do? Well, it’s simple. We all know to stay in our lane! When you’re driving, you know you can’t go into the other lane because you might get into an accident. This is a traffic rule that we learned and that we follow. Organizing your room so there is enough space for more than one student to get from outside to where their coats are hung up can be incredibly beneficial. For one, students will not walk single file when coming in from outside, so you reduce the headache by giving them space. Secondly, if there are things in the way, that lead to potentially unnecessary touching or destruction that you can prevent.
Clear the Way for Emergency
No matter how you choose to organize your room, one of the most important things you can do is clear the room so exits and entrances are easily accessible. Thinking about a clear pathway for easy movement in the classroom is making sure there is a clear exit from every station. Have an area specifically for Book Pals or early finishers? Make sure you have a clear path from each area to the door. This is true for all areas of your classroom.
In my classroom, I used to have a table and chairs in the nook outside of my doorway. However, when someone did not push in the chair, we could not get out of the classroom. Therefore, I moved it out of the nook. Now, no matter what there is a clear space to get out if needed. Always be aware of how the traffic in your room is flowing and what obstacles come up. By doing so, you will always be able to adjust to ensure safety and order.
Tidiness Matters for Easy Movement in the Classroom
Another big “mess” my students can create that always ends up with someone (a student, an aide, or myself) tripping are their coats and boots. I know that coats and boots are a necessary part of living in an area where the weather is different. However, it can sure make a mess. You can combat this by explicitly teaching students to hang up their belongings and tuck their boots, bags, and everything else away so it is not all over the floor. Using a class monitor for this that changes daily or weekly can be very helpful. You can also have a picture of what a nice area looks like near their coats as a model. Finally, if it is becoming increasingly difficult, you can use a reward system to help students learn the skill of hanging up their belongings.
Keep COVID at Bay
With COVID, we all know that handwashing is incredibly important. I have arrows on my floor that direct traffic to the sink, drying area, and where they go afterward. Why? I want to avoid students touching and running into each other. By having a visual system, students will be able to see where they can and cannot go. In addition, this is easy to teach and there is always a visual reminder for students.
Creating easy movement in the classroom is not always the easiest task. However, it is important not only for organization, but also for the safety of everyone in the room. This week, take a look at how your room is organized and form a plan to fix any movement problems in your classroom.
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