Extreme Classroom Makeover!

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Thanks to Debbie Diller’s book, Spaces and Places, I was able to makeover my classroom–big time. My new job requires me to provide job-embedded professional development (training) for the almost 200-teacher faculty at my school. I am required to have the “model classroom” where teachers can come in anytime and observe the use of best practices, integration of technology, etc. I wanted to create a classroom environment that was not only functional and comfy for my kids, but also an inviting space for teachers to come hang out and watch me teach. When I first got my room assignment, I was somewhat disappointed at how small it was, especially when I saw that there were other classrooms around that were much bigger than mine, and given that I needed space for teachers to come in and two classes with 33 students apiece. I asked for a bigger room, and was told that it would be taken care of, but then I turned right around and started trying arrangements with the room I had, and began to realize that maybe I could make it work. What better way to build a model classroom than to have a small space and show what amazing things can be done when you have a plan? While the jury is still out on how the kids are going to react, I have gotten a lot of positive feedback from the teachers and staff who have passed through my room so far. This year really marks a shift in the way I approach my job. I am very thoughtful and calculating now where I was quick to act before thinking in the past. I guess I’m slowing down in my old age!!! I think I have a rationale for just about every aspect of my room, from the removal of the teacher desk, to the inclusion of a coffeemaker. I really feel energized and ready to start the year in my new classroom. I am so looking forward to hearing the reactions of my students and more teachers! Visit my flickr gallery here for more pics and info about my classroom makeover—I only wish I would’ve taken “before” photos!!!

Here is a youtube (sorry, blocked folk, that’s all I could find) video with more info about the amazing book I used as a guide to setting up my room:

Thanks to my best friend and educator, Nicole, i had the opportunity to hear from Debbie Diller herself!She suggested that I email Diller, so I left the following message on her comment form at DebbieDiller.com:
“I just wanted to tell you that I really enjoyed your
Spaces and Places and that it was so helpful to me. I wrote a blog
post about it with flickr pics that I also added to your flickr group. I would love to get feed back from the guru herself!!! Please check
out my blog post at:

Then SHE said:
“Hi Tinashe (I know how to pronounce your name, too, after visiting your classroom pics! Great idea to add that pronunciation key)…

Thank you so much for showing me how my work has touched your classroom. Wow! How cool to see my work moving into a high school math classroom! That is beyond my wildest expectations! (My best friend, Tangye, is a high school math coach and she told me this book could help in high school, too.)

I love your room. It looks amazing. Wish I could see it, but am not in the area. Too bad. I love the color scheme. It looks calming, and I can imagine that you never want to leave it. (:

A few things I thought of while looking at your pics…
1. To protect those brand-new pencils on the tables, I add a red tape flag to each (so they can’t be taken so easily). I use red electric tape from a dollar store and wrap it around the pencil to create a tape flag. So easy and effective!

2. One thing I do in my office to help me organize my many professional books is to put my books in labeled clear plastic shoeboxes on my shelves. This makes it really easy to find what I need. I’m thinking it might help teachers easily find what they need if they want to check out books on teaching Geometry, Statistics, etc. Just a thought.

3. Love the coffee station for teachers! They will, too!

I’ve just begun my own blog, too. I would love to share your blog with others and expand the reach to high school, math, and PD coaches! Fabulous! Check it out at http://debbiediller.wordpress.com/ It may take a while for me to post it, but stay tuned.

Thanks so much for writing to me! What a treat. I was working on writing my newest book on math stations (for K-2) when I decided to take a break and check my email. So glad I did. You’ve inspired me, too.

All the best,

One word:
Thx for the feedback, Debbie!

2 thoughts on “Extreme Classroom Makeover!”

  1. I also love Debbie Diller professional resources. How cool that she responded to your blog! I just wanted to share another resource that was published by NEFC (NorthEast foundation for Children) which connects with their Responsive Classroom approach to teaching. It’s called “Classroom Spaces that Work.” There are a lot of similarities between the books and I just wanted to throw it out there for your community of teachers and learners! Thanks for a great post!

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