I am passionate about making connections and building relationships with students in order to create a classroom environment conducive to learning. One way that I found that helps build such a climate is to have a neat, orderly, organized, color coordinated classroom (No Reds, Bright Yellows, Bright Oranges on the walls). This did not happen naturally for me. I was taught to use the brightest, most vivid colors and to cover every inch of your wall with STUFF. I found after training with HET Highly Effective Teaching that colors really do alter the tone and setting of your classroom. Keeping colors simple and borders plain, with no designs on the borders, helps focus on the student work that is being displayed instead of away from the board to the edges. I had to totally redesign my classroom and my thinking after 23 years of teaching. It was very hard at first to take all the STUFF off my walls and only put up what we were studying at the time. I actually painted my main wall navy blue instead of Bright Canary Yellow. That automatically created a sense of calm in my classroom. I covered my cluttered shelves with light blue curtains, I used light blue fabric for the backing on the bulletin boards and for my curtains on my windows. I bought all white baskets to display my books. I painted my book shelves dark blue and gathered all the navy blue chairs from other classes so mine all matched. I added plants to all the children’s cooperative learning tables and had lamps on in the room. I never had all the lights on at the same time, it was too bright and hurt our heads and our eyes. The kids loved it!!! I loved it and we all felt very comfortable learning in a cozy environment. Notice in the video below how the Procedures are displayed for all to see. The Conceptual Map is displayed so anyone who enters the room will know what the students are studying throughout the entire year. The Immersion Table is powerful and is a natural hook for visitors and students alike. They can’t wait to see what is on the Immersion table that relates to their learning that week. Have a quiet place for your students to escape to if they are having a horrible, no good, very bad day….. we called it “Australia”. Students would listen to classical music on the ipod, do some relaxation exercises and relax if they had a bad morning at home. Maybe mom and dad got in a fuss, or a pet died, or a friend was mean on the bus, or you had an argument at recess. It was a place to refocus and gather their thoughts. My classroom was the happiest part of many of my students’ day and I designed it that way……… the safest and most conducive environment for learning.