My Dream Classroom


A $1000.00 for my current classroom is like winning a million dollars!  Prior to this week’s lesson, I probably would have looked to making cosmetic decisions rather than educational decisions. Being a teacher of the Deaf and Hard of Hearing, I am limited as to what I can and cannot do with the placement of my students.   Unlike their hearing counterparts, I need to make sure that all of the students have a direct line of sight of me as well as each other.   My classes are smaller than a typical class, but the classes are also smaller.  Additionally, access to a light switch is crucial.

Upon reading this week’s assignments, I was intrigued by two ideas: flexible seating and adding a “genius bar” to my class.   Flexible seating was not a new concept to me, but after reading Kelly Almer’s article, Top 3 Reasons to Use Flexible Seating in the Classroom, I learned that I really did not know as much as I thought I did. Students have always been allowed to sit where they wanted in my classroom.   But I notice that students tend to sit in the same place all of the time and IF someone makes the bold move to sit elsewhere, there is usually backlash.   Additionally, my classes use DEAR (drop everything and read) time in class for personal reading.  Students usually remain at their desks.  Despite access to floor pillows, students do not take advantage of them.  In examining my classroom as it is now as well as completing this week’s assignment, I have been thinking about how I could re-design my classroom.  While my students usually sit in a “U” formation, it is not really conducive to teamwork.   Students sit near one another, but rarely engage.  I would change out the desks for tables.  The desks could be separated for group work, set in the “U” form for a standard Deaf classroom or “T”, there are more learner friendly options when tables are used.   Tables also allow for more floor space, where students can walk, stand or sit on the floor if they choose.

The second idea that I read about that was really intriguing to me was the “genius bar”.  Andi McNair discusses adding a Genius Bar on her blog, Engaging Their Minds.   While her view was more from a teacher of advanced students, I find that this idea has the potential of be beneficial for all students.   As a teacher of the Deaf, many of my students are well below the progress of their age/grade level peers.  Yet, they all have areas of expertise to share.   I like the idea of questioning each other and looking for answers among themselves without always depending on the teachers. Many times, my students have become dependent on the adults in their lives to give them the answer.  A Genius Bar forces them to think outside of their comfort zone.

Now that I have a revised classroom, I have $1,000 to spend.  I would spend the majority of the funds creating a reading area for my students.  These mobile materials would be flexible enough that students could use them in other parts of the classroom as well.   Purchases would include a large rug to lay/sit on, several bean bag chairs as well as “husbands”.  I would also purchase several lamps, this way a variety of brightness could be accessible. Additionally, I would purchase dry erase paint and supplies to paint the classroom tables as well as the Genius Bar.  I like the idea of students being able to write their ideas directly on their desks and collaborate immediately with one another.   I would purchase one Rocketbook Everlast Notebook for each table and Genius Bar (per period) allowing for all collaboration to not only be available to the class, but to the teacher as well.  The new Everlast appears to be longer lasting than its predecessor.  I would include storage for iPads and cameras over by the video corner, for easy use.   The video corner is used to create signed video blogs, lit responses, portfolios and interactive vocabulary. I would also include an adaptor that would allow me to control the lights from a distance (flashing lights is how I get student attention), allowing me to move around the room more easily.

Even as I type this, I know there are some barriers that I will face.   I work a very “inside” the box kind of thinking, so it may be an uphill battle.   But, I think it will be worth it.  In speaking with my colleagues, many of them have adapted a more flexible classroom.   A majority of them state that it is a good procedure, it just needs to be thought out well, planned and with set ground rules.  I hope to make little changes, like a reading nook, this year….but I WANT that classroom I have designed.   Maybe not next year, but little by little, I will get there 🙂


14 thoughts on “My Dream Classroom

  1. Hi Meghan,

    I think exchanging desks for tables would effectively encourage more collaboration! Right now, I have desks in my classroom arranged in pods for use in my collaborative learning center for hybrid. I also like your idea about students questioning each other and searching for answers among themselves before getting teacher help! This teaches students to find their own answers, which is a skill that is needed in school and in life.

    What grade do you teach? I think the idea of kids writing directly on tables is cool, but I have only seen this done in kindergarten.

    Also, do you have any pictures of your current classroom to compare it to the changes you described?

    • Hi Christine.
      I teach high school. My students write on their desks all the time in dry erase. I love it, so do they! No pictures, only the “drawings” I linked. I have already started a grant for the reading nook. I was really inspired by this unit. Thanks for your feedback.


      • Hi Meghan,

        Dry erase is so cool! I bought little whiteboards and markers for my kids next year so that they can be more engaged during direct instruction time during hybrid. This year, I used mainly workbook problems in hybrid direct station. Thank you for your idea!

        Christine Dennis

        • Hi Christine!
          I sometimes feel that high school are not much different that elementary school kids! I have inherited white boards, but I struggle to keep them from being distracted. Maybe this will help 🙂 Thanks for your feedback.

  2. Meghan,
    I would also like to create a reading area for my students. I love to hear that you have time for DEAR. I wish I had more time in the day to get some silent reading or even a read aloud in with my students. I really miss those days. I love those husband pillows and I never knew their name until your post! Creating a quiet and comfortable place for students to read can really help to get those reluctant readers reading. I also decided to add some live plants to help the atmosphere. It’s a nice way to liven up the classroom. The Genius bar looks like a fantastic idea. I don’t have a lot of information on this so I will have to research it more.
    Thanks for sharing,
    Ally Beamesderfer

  3. Hi Meghan,
    I really enjoyed reading your blog post. I can tell that you put a great deal of thought into your classroom design and have the needs of your students front and center at all times. I loved your idea to use tables instead of desks. I really wish I could do this in my classroom for several reasons. I really like how the students are encouraged to collaborate when they have the opportunity to sit together. If there were a way that they could store all of their materials and supplies (like in a desk) I would move to using tables in a heartbeat. I also loved that you are going to try to work towards your ideal classroom little by little each year. My room has changed so much over the years and I finally feel that I have a learning environment that is best for my students, but it took a LOT of time. I really wish teachers were provided with enough funds to make the changes that they feel are necessary. It’s truly one of those areas of education that can “slip through the cracks”. Thank you so much for sharing your ideas with us!

    🙂 Erin

  4. You have an additional element to think about in your planning. While we all are taking into account our students needs, your situation is more unique. I think your idea of having every surface possible covered with whiteboard paint would be a game changer for your class. They would be able to express themselves throughout your classroom.
    I also think that the adapter idea on your wish list is genius. Especially for your students, but I like it as a non verbal attention getter for classrooms in general.

    • I will be honest, I used many of these techniques when I taught hearing kids. I also use dog training techniques with my kids, I get weird looks, but they freeze and do not get hit by cars 🙂


  5. Hi Meghan – I know what you mean – we are all creatures of habit, and I also find that my students would sit in the same spot every day, if I let them. Flexible seating can sometimes mean I choose, sometimes they choose. Sometimes they work in pairs, or larger groups. Where they sit changes depending on what we are doing, and what they need to do. I do have tables, different rooms, bean bags, couches, and comfortable chairs for them to choose from – so that helps.

    Thanks for your post,

    • Kelly,
      Thanks for the feedback. I have begun to look more into the ins and outs of flexible seating. I am really intrigued by this idea.


  6. Hi Meghan,

    First, I wanted to say I had never heard of the Everlast notebook, it is amazing!!! I will be trying one of those this year, that is for sure!

    On another note, I like your approach to the learning spaces. You were intentional about thinking of the purposes for each space and I particularly appreciated your observations about the times your students aren’t using your current spaces in the way you expected. I think that is one of the biggest areas that is overlooked in how teachers view spaces. Many only see through their own eyes and design based on what they think the students will want. But in my experience, it is much more rare for teachers to observe the actual use patterns of their students.

    I heard a story once of a restaurant owner, and head chef, who was meeting with one of his most devoted customers. The customer was complimenting him on his amazing menu and on how intuitively he shifts what he offers. At the end, the customer asked, “how do you have such a good feel of what your patrons like and do not like?”

    The owner replied, “I look through the trash.”

    Confused, the patron said, “I don’t understand.”

    “Some customers are too polite to say when they don’t like something. Others feel like they like it all, and, therefore, will not voice concerns and will, in fact, continuously order the same plate, which would imply the love the meal. But when I look in the trash, I see the real story. I see which dishes and sides are fully devoured, which are mostly consumed, and which are left partially eaten or entirely untouched. It shows me what people are too polite or insecure to say and it shows me what people are not overtly aware of about their likes and dislikes. Seeing their true actions and reactions with each meal gives me the true window into what will work best.”

    I think this is the secret in the classroom as well. We must watch the actions and reactions of the students, not make assumptions from our own stance or go solely on what they say they like and don’t like. And it sounds to me like that is exactly what you are doing!

    • Great Analogy, Trevor! Thank you for that. I agree that we need to look through the trash….I just wish my admin would let me take it out.

  7. Hi Meghan,
    I really enjoyed reading about your current classroom and the changes you would make to it. I love the idea of having students write directly on the tables. I also liked reading about the genius bar. This is something I would love to eventually build into my classroom. I like your idea of including bean bag chairs into the classroom to create a relaxed environment. Thank for sharing a great post!

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