Classroom design becomes personal for students
Aug. 20, 2011 at 3:20 a.m.
Carrie Majewski had spent almost the entire summer setting up, tearing down and resurrecting her third grade classroom at Crain Elementary School.
Within months after school starts, her students will have overhauled all of her hard work, she said.
"You have to let go," she said, laughing that teachers can be control freaks. "When you really start to relate to your kids, the truth is, you're in it for them, and you tend to let go because you see the excitement and the joy in their eyes when they turn something you did into theirs."
Designing an elementary classroom is hardly about haphazard bulletin boards or cutesy decorations. It's a well-thought-out, well-researched process, Majewski, 27, explained.
At Crain Elementary School, for example, the teachers emphasize kinesthetic learning, which requires lots of space for kids to move around.
Majewski was setting up tables close together near the front of the room, leaving the rest of the space available for kids to own themselves - whether they're laying on a colorful carpet, resting their feet on the wall or even reading underneath tables.
"It makes the learning environment more personal to them," she said.
On one wall, a row of computers rested low to the ground. It's a set-up once again encouraged to get kids moving, even if it's just from the floor to their feet.
"Just by putting the pressure on their hands, it's like a brain break for them," Majewski said.
Other items, like bookshelves and a giant storage cabinet have been designed with kiddos in mind, too. Majewski praised the district's maintenance staff with helping teachers and staff transition to the Crain campus from the former Juan Linn Elementary School campus.
"Everything that was built in this campus was built by a VISD employee ... and created for us from the mindset of an educator," she said. "They put so much effort and energy and emotion into what they were doing."
Lisa Baughman, assistant principal at Crain, said that energy permeates the hallways of the new school building. Staff put in extra hours this summer to make sure the school was ready for its students.
"We have had teachers here all summer dedicating their time working at the school," she said. "There's just that energy and excitement that you just want to get everything ready and prepare for your kids to be here."
Majewski had just a little bit of work left to do on her classroom before students and parents would take a sneak peak at her masterpiece.
Of course, little by little, students will take ownership of her classroom, making it even more kid-friendly and conducive to learning.
"By having a brand new campus like Crain, it really allows us to open up the floor to our kids to make this their own campus, and we want them to be proud of it," she said. "By allowing them to add their own personal flairs to the school, it will truly become their campus."