The classroom environment sometimes is referred to as "the other teacher." A carefully designed classroom greatly facilitates the implementation of Reggio, PYP and workshop model principles. In its role as "the other teacher," the classroom environment has five major goals to meet:
Once a classroom environment has been constructed with these goals in mind, teachers make ongoing changes in it for a variety of reasons; for example, because children's interests or ideas are moving in new directions, because the teachers see
- Promote learning processes in which children are engaging with another and with objects of interest, exploring in a focused manner, constructing and representing understandings
- Communicate the identities of the children and the image of the child
- Invite children to take multiple perspectives and make multiple connections
- Promote a sense of well-being in everyone
- Encourage parents to engage with the life of the classroom
new possibilities for stimulating children's interests, or because they see a better way for the environment to serve one or more of the five goals stated above.
*** (taken from For a in-depth explanation of each of the five goals stated above, please read Chapter 6.
Questions to Ask When Designing Your Classroom
Here are some questions that may be helpful to you when designing your classroom
- In what ways does your classroom environment invite children to collaborate in their learning activities?
- Does a visitor have a sense of who lives in this classroom and something of its history?
- Where is the "color" in your classroom? Does it come from the children and their work?
- How do you use wall space in your classroom? Is there a rich array of children's work voices, and ideas? Is there a balance between display of past work, recent work and ongoing work?
- How do you maintain a balance between open and furnished space in your classroom? What might you do to simplify and open up more space, or utilize space in more meaningful ways?
- In what ways do you sort and display materials so they are visible, accessible and interesting to children?
- Is there a flow to the classroom that respects children's motivations?
- What messages do classroom furnishings send? Do you have unique and interesting furniture? Does it remind children of home? Does it enrich children's experience and deepen their awareness of different meanings, uses, and possibilities?
- What connections to home are visible in this classroom?
- How are parents represented, or present, in the classroom?
- Does your classroom invite children to take different perspectives?
- In what ways is the classroom environment connected to other classrooms, to the "outside" world, and to the local community?
- In how many ways has nature been incorporated into your classroom?
- Are there places in the classroom that respect children's different states of being? can a child find a quiet, comforting, private place, a stimulating place of sounds, places for dramatic action, physically challenging places?
- How and why might you use different qualities of light in your classroom?
- How does the classroom environment greet visitors and parents, teachers and children when they enter? What implicit and explicit messages does the environment send? What changes might you try, and why?
- In what ways do the building and grounds engage the interests of the children and parents, encourage meaningful interaction and diologue, stimulate wonder, provide opportunities for exploration, and offer safety, warmth, and comfort?
- When you take your children on neighborhood or city field trips, how do you scaffold the learning process? How do you document children's observations and experiences? In what ways do children revisit these experiences? When and how do you record your reflections on the trip?