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Tessa Harrington, a Kindergarten teacher at Lynnmour Elementary, recently explored a question she had about the design of her classroom…

Her inquiry question was: Will adaptations to my classroom’s physical space (desks/paint colour/chairs/book choices/tables/floor mats, etc.) help support a calm, safe, and reflective thinking culture?

Here is her story…

I have always been inspired by Reggio style classrooms and had been interested in making changes to my room to make it have a more natural and calming feel. The inquiry project for my graduate diploma was the perfect motivation to put my ideas into action. I have had the unwavering support of my principal; Kelly La Roue, my Family of School Leader; Tristan Crowther, and the Teacher Leader Early Literacy; Gretchen Tolfo. I feel extremely fortunate to have so much support from my school team!

I immediately found the changes in my room very welcoming and calming for myself. I have had a lot of positive feedback from other staff members, TOC’s, district staff, parents, the students in my class, and also students from other classes. When my students entered the class on January 5th after the changes took place over winter break they made comments such as:

“I like it! It’s changed!” (KD)

“I like those things up there… the plants!” (CT)

“The whole room makes my body feel nice.” (LC)

“It makes me feel calmer.” (SW)

“I like how it’s dark.” (AR)

“Can you leave all of these lights off all the time?” (SW)

“I like the thing over there (points at lamp). The thing that glows in the dark.” (AC)

“I like how the walls are painted different.” (MB)

Journal Drawing - Before Calming

Journal Drawing – Before Calming

Journal Drawing - After Calming

Journal Drawing – After Calming

I personally have noticed a change in some of my more challenging students. I have one little girl who used to spend most of her time during carpet activities rolling around, spinning and distracting others. This past week and a half she has been much more calm and doesn’t distract others on the carpet as much. Any activity in which she needed write or draw used to require me constantly redirecting her but now she is able to complete her work more independently. I am hoping that these changes are a result of the environmental change but that is very hard to measure!

All of the students seem to be a little more calm and quiet. They have all expressed how they like the change and are excited to see what will happen next! They express their enjoyment of working with more natural materials and having more space and freedom to move.

Check out Tessa’s Before and After Photos:

Before Calming

Before Calming

After Calming

After Calming

Originally posted on SD44.com. Re-posted here with permission.