When it’s time to move back into the classroom, teachers will want to go in and make space their own again. This is a time to refresh, restore, and even improve the space. While the janitorial staff is working hard to keep things clean, teachers can make adjustments that will improve the learning process.
Student Tables and Chairs
Grab a drill with a standard Phillips bit and a crescent wrench and take a look at the chairs in your space. Give them each a wiggle to see if anything has come loose, tightening as you go. If any school chair parts are missing, keep a list with you so you can invest in spares and update them.
For example, leg caps can protect the floors of your classroom from scratch damage. Replacing missing or loose screws now can reduce the risk of falls, breaks, and pinches later.
Finally, make a spot for broken chairs and tables that can’t be salvaged. If the bases are in good shape, consider swapping out a bad base with a bad top and making one good table out of two damaged items. Clean the plastic surfaces of the tables with a disinfectant wipe and a scrub brush to kill disease on contact and pick up ground-in stains.
Cover Shelving with Bright Paper
If your shelves are looking tired and paint isn’t an option, look for some clear contact paper and add student art, themed characters, or bright blocks of color to your shelving, then cover it with the contact paper or labels for daily organizing and cleanup. This will both protect the surface of the shelving and show off your creative ideas!
In a classroom that features wire metal shelving, check the width of the gap and look for ribbons in your school colors to weave between the wires. This a project that may take a bit of time to get started, but once you’re rolling it will really add to the visual excitement of the space.
Add Fabric to Bulletin Boards
When it’s time to boost your colors, consider putting fabric on your bulletin boards instead of colored paper. Staple the fabric along the top to secure it, and add some push pins as you stretch it. Then pull the fabric snug enough to pull out any wrinkles before stapling it at the bottom in the center. Work your way both right and left to keep the fabric snug, then add a staple halfway between the top and bottom on the sides.
Once it’s pulled snug, spritz the fabric with warm water and a drop or two of liquid fabric softener to relax any remaining wrinkles. Bulletin board fabric can add a lot of color and visual variety to your space and is easy to change out at the end of the year.
You can add a border of standard paper scalloping, or update it with burlap ribbon. To keep within your budget, or lower your costs if you have no budget for this improvement, check out burlap yardage and consider making your own ribbon by cutting it into strips, scrunching the raw edges, and tying it in a bundle at regular points down the length of the burlap. Again, you can add multiple colors of yarn at these tying points and further boost your color options.
Add Mats to a Corner
No matter how hard you’ve been working to produce good digital content for your learners at home, you know that not every child has a desk. If they’ve been learning at the kitchen table or on the floor, getting accustomed to a desk again is going to be a challenge.
Add a heavy-duty rubberized floor mat to the reading or play corner of your classroom. It doesn’t have to be pretty, but it should be thick and flexible enough that your students who prefer to sit on the floor can find some comfort when reading on their own, studying a special project, or listening to someone else read.
No matter how hard we try, there is no “normal” to get back to. Teachers are returning to a very different world when the pandemic is under control, and classroom improvements will need to include plans for extra sanitizing, regular cleanups, and whatever else it will take to stay on top of this.