Thursday, July 19, 2012

School Retreat and Determining a Classroom Theme

Good afternoon!  Well I had my first "official" item of business with my new staff today, and I'd say it was a success!  They always have a staff "retreat" in the summer where they address their school improvement goals and our route to achieving them.  It was so nice to see everyone, continue to learn names, and see how amazing the teachers are!  I can't wait to learn from them as my work with them continues.

For the last week, I've been at a 5 day EL conference.  Yes, I said 5 days!  I was by myself, so I had a lot of the think time.  Anyway, the presenter talked about some great things, and I'm going to share some of those as time goes on.  The one I want to start with today made me think about my classroom themes.  Obviously, with EL students, we want to make sure we are culturally responsive and think about the things we do and say that reflect these cultures.

The presenter talked about an ENL teacher that had a Colts theme.  She said it was beautiful!  Blue and white, coordinating name tags on desks, a behavior plan that was centered around it, stationary for newsletters, word wall letters that reflected a football theme, etc.  Everything we dream of when thinking about creating an environment that is cohesive and "matchy matchy".  However, all of her students are spanish speaking students.  What sport would they really relate to? Football? Or futbol?

So I thought back about my own themes.  Who created them?  I did.  Who thought of the colors?  I did.  Who decorated everything?  I did.
Who is the room for? The students.

It's a lot easier for me to think about this since I'm not setting up a room this year, but if I were, I might have to rethink some things.  I had started creating a Pinterest board on a Pirate theme, had purchased some clearance items in April, and had already designed my postcard to introduce students to the room. However, what type of environment would my students really relate to?  What would they want?  As I rethink this, I might have a fairly dull and boring room to begin with and let the students do the creation of the theme.  Yes, I would want to assist and make things neat, but shouldn't they own the room? 

Food for thought:  As you all are setting up your rooms in the coming weeks are you going to go with football or futbol?  Are you going to let your students take ownership?  Is your theme culturally responsive?  

That's all for now!

1 comment:

Michelle said...

Really something to think about. I'm a bit OCD when it comes to my classroom and having a theme and everything matching is a dream for "me". I was ready to go full out on a Rock n' Roll theme but then remembered I had students whose parents didn't let them listen to music. Facebook themed papers..while I have students on Facebook with their own accounts, I also had students that had no idea what Facebook was! Pirates pillage! There are many themes out there that if you really think about it could be seen in a negative way. Searching TPT, TN, and websites for cute activity sheets or bundles was a great help but so many are "girly" as a football theme could be considered to boyish for the girls. In the end I decided to go with a color theme only and I do have monster everything, I made sure they are both female and male and not scary. But I am not sticking to it only. I will be using different theme based activities throughout the year to keep things fun. Thank you for reminding me to keep the students in mind and now I will be thinking about how I can involve them in making the classroom ours!