There are many aspects to managing any classroom. One of them is classroom arrangement. This may seem like one of the easier tasks when you think that all you have to do is put some desks in a classroom. However, there are many things to consider when configuring the furniture in your room as well as computers, play areas, work areas, and more How you arrange your room can significantly impact student learning either positively or negatively. This is particularly important for special education classrooms where seemingly insignificant factors can play a huge role in students’ daily lives at school. Here are a few things to consider when you set up your special education classroom.
Above all, you need to consider the needs and preferences of your student. Even though this is the ultimate goal of education, many times teachers, teacher assistants, administrators, and school board members put their own preferences above those of the students. Do not lose sight of your goal. Your set up will vary every year with different students. What works one year may not work the next year. For example, if you have students that enjoy books on tape/CD, create a listening area. If your students don’t prefer to do this, use the space for a different activity, such as art projects.
Think about how you want to set up your own desk area. Consider what you need to accomplish at school and what you will work on at home. Make sure that your desk area is set up appropriately for everything that you want to work on at school. Additionally, you should consider how you will define your area as off limits for your students. Some special education students may need a visual boundary, such as masking tape on the floor. Finally, make sure that your desk area does not interfere with any student areas or activities.
Consider your own teaching style and your student group organization. If you prefer to use any equipment such as an overhead, white board, or laptop hookup, do your best to arrange permanent set ups so that you do not need to do a lot of set up and tear down throughout each school day. Be honest with yourself about what you use. You don’t need to waste time setting up equipment that you will not use.
Design a computer area. Make sure that your student computers are in a separate area of the room. Additionally, invest in at least one or two pairs of headphones so that students can play games, listen to music, etc. without distracting anyone else.
Design additional separate areas of the classroom. Sometimes students have trouble doing the same thing in one area of the room, such as working and playing. Create different areas of the room for different purposes. Some students even have trouble doing the same type of work in one area. Consider designing work stations for different kinds of work, such as independent work and teacher assisted work.
Make your classroom accessible. You want to ensure that your students can get what they need with as little help as possible. Consider special accommodations for students with physical disabilities. They may need to have their supplies and toys at different heights than other students.
There are a few final factors to consider that may not be as obvious as the previously mentioned considerations. All of these factors can be particularly unsettling for students with autism.
General room distractions, such as students playing while other students are working. For this issue, consider setting up room divisions or desk dividers.
You may only have so much control over these other final factors, such as temperature and lighting. Consider practical solutions that you can do yourself at minimal expense.