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Cmommy Cmommy is offline
 
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Need Advice
Old 07-07-2016, 03:05 PM
 
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After starting my teaching career in Special Ed, I taught for 12 years in General Ed. I am super excited to return to Special Ed in September. I will have a class of multiple exceptionalities up to gr. 5 (K level academically). I visited my classroom and met with the outgoing teacher who seemed wonderful. I have a HUGE classroom with 2 separate sensory rooms as well as my office and a kitchen. I noticed it was completely bare - the walls. Empty bulletin boards, etc. I thought it must b/c school is winding down. I met with my paras on the last day of school and they asked me very hopefully if I would be decorating the classroom. I thought it was a strange question but said yes and they got super excited. They told me how much the students love to see pictures up, etc. I didn't give it a ton of thought until I met with the outgoing teacher one last time. She told me she deliberately kept the room bare to be calm. No word wall, alphabet, no student work posted, etc. I was kind of surprised. I know it is important to maintain a calm atmosphere. I totally plan to make a very calm environment and not make the walls overwhelming, busy or distracting but I do plan to decorate a bit. I want my students to feel comfortable and enjoy the space. I guess I just wanted some current teachers to give me their opinions on this. Thanks !


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metap metap is offline
 
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Our class
Old 07-07-2016, 03:49 PM
 
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Students enjoy receiving praise for their completed work by visually seeing it on the wall. Also, have each student write good things about themselves. Don't read what they wrote. Staple it closed and staple to the bulletin board. When a test comes up take them down and have them read what they wrote to themselves. Some may want to share what they wrote with you!
Let them know that it's their classroom and you would like for them to decorate it with their work, artwork, etc.
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Calm is good
Old 07-07-2016, 05:35 PM
 
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But calm doesn't mean barren.
Just keep from getting too busy, is all. Color is good and will be welcoming!
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Calm and distracting
Old 07-08-2016, 02:37 AM
 
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I would go with what the outgoing teacher is telling you.

You could probably call my room barren, but IME calm is very important to my students and keeping distractions and visual clutter to a minimum makes a huge difference in behavior and academics.

There are items hanging on my walls, but it is usually behavior reminders, labels, visual schedules and (a limited amount of) anchor charts.

The calendar visuals are in a part of the room that cannot be seen from all areas of the room.

I do have rotating HALLWAY displays of student work and various disability awareness issues. Depending on your students, you could even decorate your classroom door.

Also keep in mind how your students would feel if a classmate had a bad day, a tantrum or a fixation/perserveration and the cherished art work or assignment was destroyed.

As for the aides, I'm sure yours are wonderful, but I have run into aides that would much prefer to do and hang art work than do academic concepts or behavior interventions.
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Old 07-08-2016, 04:01 AM
 
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Thanks for all your replies. I agree calm is best. Luckily, the bulletin boards are all up high - no one could reach any work - but that is definitely something to consider. My classroom is actually 3 rooms with walls taken out. I think I may leave the classroom work area pretty bare - where my students do most of their work and then decorate the other area's bulletin boards. I will put up anchor charts (as we use them) and a word wall too. I want it to look like a classroom and not some gigantic, barren space. It's hard going in to a program like this - everyone, including admin, has told me they are expecting big changes to be evident. I appreciate your input!


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Good plan
Old 07-08-2016, 05:02 AM
 
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It sounds like you are coming up with some wonderful ideas.
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velcro
Old 07-08-2016, 12:22 PM
 
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Piggybacking off of the previous poster who mentioned how upset students might be if another student tantrums/has a "moment" and rips stuff down....I designated one corner of my classroom to be my "thinking corner" and all of the visual behavior reminders/cue cards/self-calming strategy choice boards are on the wall but hard laminated and attached with velcro. If they get ripped down, they can easily be velcroed back up. I usually have the student who ripped it down while in crisis be the one who puts it back up when they are calm and velcro is usually a nice non-frustrating "if/then" consequence.

I teach a self-contained autism support class and I have visuals/decorations up, but in the student work areas I have portable dividers/"walls" I put up around the station so they can focus on working. A lot of academic visuals I laminate and place in folders for the students for when they need them instead of hanging them up. For example, my kids all have a word wall folder with a list of our word wall words and thematic words based on what we're learning. I have a word wall hanging up but I have it hanging from the ceiling/attached to very high up cabinets.
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Old 07-08-2016, 02:39 PM
 
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Thanks for sharing the picture of your classroom! The word wall I'm planning will be up high as well. The classroom has many of the dividers for students to use when needed- both portable ones and more permanent quiet areas a student can work in. I really like the idea of a calm down corner. There are 2 sensory rooms but a corner might be a more informal area to use with the picture cues. Thanks!
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