A great deal of time is spent on the first days of school getting to know the students and teaching expectations and procedures. From the teachers stand point establishing classroom expectations and procedures is a priority. Rebecca Easterby of Shadow Forest Elementary said, “it takes a lot of time but pays off later.” The time invested on teaching the students the procedures and expectations at the beginning is invaluable, although there are many times through the year were re-teaching or reinforcing these expectations and procedures is required. Freyja Gilliam, of Elm Grove Elementary, agreed that establishing the rules, explaining expectations, and modeling those to the students is very important. She also mentioned that within the first few days of school games or other activities are done to allow the students to get to know one another. The principal that I interviewed takes a proactive approach to the first days of school. Her staff reads and reviews a plan every year for the first 20 days of school. Nancy Arnold, from Shadow Forest Elementary, feels that getting to know the students academically and behavioral is very important and encourages her staff through different collaborative activities.
There are a lot of different factors that go into classroom arrangement. Room arrangement is important in establishing a good climate for learning. In my opinion a class room arrangement should consist of a large area in which desks are lined up in rows for group instruction. On the other side of the room there would be a computer area and perhaps a few creative learning stations such as a book nook corner, writing station, art station, a few tables for small group activites or conferencing, etc. For Freyja this description is very close. In her classroom the desks are in clusters of four. The desks are arranged in this way because a lot of group work is done in her classroom. It also helps students become aware of being respectful of others in the classroom community. She allows her students to choose their seats but reminds them that being able to do so is a privilege and can easily be changed if necessary. Freyja is also flexible with her room arrangement and changes it as she feels necessary. The basic set up includes clusters of desks forming the large group area, classroom library, small group area, and the teachers work area. This type of traditional set up is not always the case. I was very surprised to hear how different the room arrangement is in Rebecca Easterby’s fourth grade classroom. Rebecca provides a variety of different seating options such as regular tables, carrels, low tables that allow students to sit on the floor, and some large pillows and bean bag chairs. Rebecca allows her students to choose different seating based on their needs. Some students sit at the tables for assignments and in the bean bag chair when reading. It was interesting to me that this classroom