Do you know what’s amazing about teaching from home? There’s no rush hour, and every day is Casual Friday. But you know what else is pretty great? You can tidy up, refresh, or redesign your classroom whenever you want!
Many VIPKid teachers are considering doing a bit of reorganizing in their at-home classrooms. A few teachers have even reached, asking us to share some ideas and inspiration from the VIPKid Classroom Makeover episodes. Whether you’re feeling inspired to take on the simple project of tidying up or completely revamping your teaching space, here are 10 items to consider as you get started.
Your desk is the foundation of your classroom and your base of operations. When picking a desk, first consider how you like to teach. Do you prefer to stand up so you can dance with Baobao, or do you prefer to sit down while teaching your upper-level students?
Once you know if you want to stand, sit, or have the option to do both, then having ample teaching space and supply organization should be top of mind. We were inspired by the simplicity and utility of this desk from Ikea. It has plenty of space for your computer setup and built-in drawers to hold your teaching tools.
2. Computer Stand
Looking down at your computer screen can take a toll on your shoulders and neck. Quick fix: use a computer stand to elevate your screen and your teaching space! Keeping your neck straight reduces strain and helps you to keep going! Additionally, this laptop riser not only puts your camera in a more flattering position at eye level but also allows you the flexibility of being able to create a standing workspace. Prefer to use something from around the house? Grab a box or a tv tray to elevate your laptop.
3. Desk Chair
Whether you plan on teaching all day or just want to rest during that 5-minute intermission, a proper desk chair is key. You could use another chair from around the house, but an ergonomic desk chair provides that extra layer of comfort and stability to support teaching all day, or night. Not in the market for a new chair, but want to add comfort? Adding a cushion or pillow for lumbar support can make a world of difference.
4. Mobile Drawers
Organization can make or break a classroom. “Where did I put my whiteboard?” “What happened to my markers?” “I know I put those flashcards right there!” Mobile drawers to the rescue! You can use something like this in your classroom, and you’ll never lose your props again. The metal frame is a bonus as it can easily hold your magnetic letters. Consider adding small dollar store baskets within the drawers for additional organization. Binder clips can separate flashcards by topic, and each prop can easily find its home.
Your webcam is the window into your student’s world. The better the webcam, the better the connection. With a good webcam, you and your student might even forget you’re on different sides of the world. Remember to get a webcam cover for your camera lens in case your webcam doesn’t already come with one. In a pinch, a Post It note or sticker can be used as a webcam cover for an elevated level of privacy before or after class time.
6. Ring Light
Your desk light might seem bright enough for you, but it’s often not enough light for your student to really get a good look at you and your classroom. Let there be light! A ring light produces a soft, bright light that illuminates your teaching space. Don’t have access to a ring light, don’t worry! Repurposing multiple lamps from around your house can do the trick! Remember to remove the lampshades or angle them for maximum illumination. Students like seeing well-lit classrooms without distracting, dark shadows. Your classroom is like your own children’s television show set. Brighter spaces, brighter students.
7. Mobile Dry Erase Board and Markers
A whiteboard will be your most-used teaching tool. Some teachers like to have multiple magnetic whiteboards. Some magnetic whiteboards are great to have permanently fixed in your background. If you have cut-out cardboard stars, simply add a magnet to the back, and with a flick of the wrist, they can fly to and stick on your whiteboard background. Many teachers like to use smaller whiteboards and dry erase markers to draw attention to grammar rules, phonics, or spelling. Holding a small whiteboard close to your camera allows your student to see your instruction clearly. These days we like to find new uses for previously used items. If you have a binder with a clear front pocket at your house, insert a blank piece of paper in the front pocket, and now you have a new dry erase board!
8. Colorful Mouse
This may not seem like an essential item, but children as young as 4 years old are now learning through online classrooms. At this age, hand-eye coordination and dexterity are still developing. A colorful mouse is eye-catching for a child and can be used as a helpful prop to demonstrate “drag and drop” during the lesson. Having a colorful mouse as a supplemental tool is helpful when showing young students how to use a mouse. Check your desk drawers or garage for an old mouse you haven’t used in years. Consider using acrylic paint or washi tape to give it a colorful facelift. Now you have a useful new prop to add to your collection.
9. Storage Basket
We all have our go-to props and rewards for our classes. A conveniently placed storage basket can hold these items so you can be quick on the draw when the opportunity comes around. Some teachers use baskets to hold their most used props, such as action figures, toy cars, star wands, a ball, or an apple. Other teachers like to use baskets to contain the needed items for different trial classes. Remember to have a basket to hold your extra supplies such as popsicle sticks, magnets, index cards, and new dry erase markers.
10. Extension Cords
Don’t let sockets and wires keep you from your dream classroom setup! Grab some extension cords so you can arrange your classroom just the way you like it, not the way your electrician wants it.
There you have it! These top 10 items can turn even a closet into a classroom.
Want even more ideas? Take a look at this teacher-curated kit or virtual “look book” of items online teachers enjoy having in their classrooms for more inspiration as you refresh or reorganize your own space. You may even recognize a few of the items used in the 2020 VIPKid Classroom Makeover Episodes. Remember, you don’t have to spend a lot of money to have a fresh and updated classroom.
Related article: Teacher Appreciation Week 2020