Monday, April 2, 2012


Day one of Spring Break finds me catching up on laundry (finally), making buckets (excited), catching up on all things bloggy and pinteresty, and of course my DVR. I'm not to the point of making anything or pinning anything yet, but what I am finding interesting is following my pins. If you are familiar with Pinterest you know that if someone repins your pin you get notified, what I usually don't follow up on is the comments that others (complete strangers) make on my pins...that others repined. Did you follow that??

The pins I am referring to are the ones of my own classroom. Most of them I originally pinned and others have been pinned from my blog (with my permission of course). Curiosity got the better of me, and therefore I spent some time reading the comments others had left on my pins that others pinned. Have you ever done that? Overall, I can't complain...I blush at the compliments.

But the one thing I did find, that was a constent, was people really questioned the fact that this was really my classroom, that it was unrealistic and probably never looked that way again, that I have a HUGE classroom, and very little students. The top two was that a classroom should not look like mine, that the students need to take ownership of the room and I should have their work and things hanging all over the room...the second I believe was an actual comment on my blog or maybe had to do with the color of the room and how red has been studied to invoke anger and hostility...had I noticed that in my room??

So I decided to possibly answer some of these comments and questions. Not that those who made the comments would link back to my blog, but maybe just to give myself peace of mind. I keep telling myself that because I decided to blog, have a business, and participate on pinterest I have to take the good with the bad, that not everyone would agree with what I had to say or how I do things....and I'm okay with that...I think. But the reason I chose to write this post was to possibly answer some of the questions, comments, or concerns (sounds good right?!).

First of all I have 23 students in my classroom. The picture that most are questioning is the one from my first classroom reveal. Yes I had fewer students, and that is why I ended up volunteering to be displaced.

This set up was for 21. I only had 17 at the beginning of the school year, and again this was at the school I taught at for 7yrs prior to volunteering to be displaced. In that school I was in three different rooms, some smaller than this but because of my minimalistic approach and how I organize my room, it tends to look/feel much larger than they are.

Here is my new classroom (second classroom reveal)

I tend to have everything in bins, buckets, containers, etc. And all of my furniture is placed against walls...therefore giving me maximum floor space.

The other thing that I felt I just "had" to address was posting the student work...well I do post and keep anchor charts, notes, and other things as we are using them. However with all the testing, fire marshallness, and because I put my furniture against the walls I don't have much wall space to use. I do hang A LOT of things outside in the hallway. But I assure you that there is A LOT of learning going on here :) 

The other thing was that people couldn't believe that my room would stay like that and how it would look like once the students "took over". Well...not much different. I do set very high expectations for how my classroom should look and run. I have a lot of procedures and as my students will tell you...the first day I meet them I let them know that "Mrs. Falkenhagen is a neat freak".

I think it really started with me when I took a class in elementary school called "Where There is a Will there's an A". It taught students how to stay organized, the importance of using your agenda, keeping your notes neat, how to take good/neat notes, and so on. It really clicked and worked for me! So I try to pass that along. I'm not saying my classroom is sterile and students are scared to learn, create, and be kids...but when we are done doing all of that...they know how to leave the room, then next time we can find what we need. So I took some pictures of our day. Take a look at how my classroom is used, cleaned, and "lived in".

Here are pictures of our Math and Reading block...we are currently in CRCT March Madness Review time. Not pictured is the back table that I was meeting with small groups.

And here are some pics of the end of the day, the kids did all the picking up, stacking of chairs, etc.

As for the comments about the color red, well I did not study colors and how they effect student behavior. For nine years my color theme was blue and green, it was this year that I chose to change it. I have not seen any difference in how my students behavior or react in my classroom. I still have the same daily struggles, behavior situations, and third grade drama that I have had in the past.

Okay so now that I have put the questions and comments "to rest"...I know I know they will still be there and more will be made, but I hope you can also see that my classroom is real, it is "lived in" and used...I am normal :) well sort of.

Have a great Monday,


Mandy said...

Some people are just plain, ole' mean. Your room is lovely- the first photograph all the wall down to the "lived in" last phograph. You r students are lucky to have someone that is willing to teach content AND life skills.

I can't remember if I asked you this- I am a third grade teacher in Georgia, too. I was contacted by a fellow blogger, Abby at the Third Grade Bookworm, and she hatched the idea for a Georgia blogger/ blog follower meet up! I wanted to reach out and personally invite you. We will be meeting on Wednesday, April 4th (I think this is many metro counties' Spring Break) by Perimeter mall. We thought this might be a somewhat central location. We would love to have you join us!

Please let me know if you are available!

3rd Grade Thoughts said...

Hi Jessica,

I think the pics of your room were the first ones I pinned onto my "Classrooms I <3" board- it is amazing! I love the organization and the lack of visual noise- the 2 Sisters (Daily 5 and CAFE) talk a lot about that and I think your room has just the right amount of colorfulness :)

How weird that people would waste their time, and yours, commenting on silly things like they did.... sigh... I think that we, as teachers, have enough stacked against us and our jobs- can't we as teachers support each other more?

I loved this post because the pictures gave me even more inspiration for my own classroom- thanks a bunch!

Have a great Monday & keep up the great work!

3rd Grade Thoughts

Lisa said...

How I would love you to organize my room! Your room really is lovely! I much rather have my child in an organized room than a messy one! I highly doubt red bulletin board paper leads to angry kids! I have teh sweetest little ones and I have lots of red. After all, it's a school!

The Creative Journey said...

Wow!! Can I tell you the reason I bookmarked your blog was all your great organizational ideas. I love your classroom! I am messy so I look for ideas all the time to help me get organized. Keep up the great work!

Holly said...

LOL - I had no idea it was your room when I pinned it. For the record, I LOVE YOUR ROOM and it makes me say "ahhhhhhh....." because my own is WAY sensory overload. Those other people are just jealous....

Crisscross Applesauce in First Grade

S. Parker said...

I love everything about your room! It is neat, engaging and appealing.

Anonymous said...

I love your room!!!!

Cathy said...

I have done a lot of blog trolling and your room is my absolute, hands-down, no-contest favorite. In fact, you inspired me to spend a lot of my spring break pulling my decorating and organization together in my own room. Keep it up! I'm always checking back to see what you're up to. :)

Anonymous said...

I know I'm not the first to say this and I won't be the last, but really, people are jealous. I get told, 'You have WAY too much time on your hands if you made THAT!" when I proudly share something I created. This not only takes the wind out of my sails, but it makes me a) not want to share it and b) resentful of the implication.

YOU have created and sustained an environment that is friendly, warm (yes, warm, so poop on the red naysayers), organized and you have somehow managed to make it rich in learning and curriculum.

While it was nice of you to explain WHY your room looks like this, you shouldn't have had to a defense for negative comments. Those of us who were wondering how you fit all your "stuff" in (so we, too could become better organized) appreciate that explanation, but I think it's sad that you had to take your free time to defend that your room IS a real place of learning.

We ALL have our challenges, whether it be a large class size, a small room, frequent moves, small budget, or a nasty administration. I believe that instead of inventing excuses of why our rooms "Can't look like that..." or asking why yours does, we should just applaud you for your inspiration, creativity, hard work, high expectations and most of all, for your generosity in welcoming us into it.

Kudos to you!


Booky4First said...

I have to admit...I pinned your room because it is amazing. I think it WAS the colors that caught my eye first. But it isn't busy because you duplicate red and black. Now if you had several colors mixed in I might not think the same. :) I, too, am a neat freak. When I hear others comment it may come off as a negative. But I am glad you share your ideas--because I've used several in my own room. Keep sharing pictures, please!

KRISTA said...

I love everything about your room. It is so neat and organized! Your room was one of my inspirations to begin reorganizing my classroom. I just love the desk arrangements with the shelving units.

Have a wonderful spring break.

hmichaud said...

I just wanted to say that your classroom looks wonderful. It's bright and open, and you can just tell that it runs efficiently because it is arranged so efficiently. I honestly can't imagine other teachers criticizing your classroom, it looks great! =)

Mrs. Macdonald said...

I am so glad to see your post. It is so frustrating to search blogs and see all of these classrooms filled wall to wall, floor to ceiling with student work and anchor charts. Do these people not have fire marshalls?>> I always wonder how they get away with that. Also, we cannot staple into the walls where we are, which by the way is in a very humid part of the country... so try tape, you say? nope! I'm glad to see that you've cleared the air.. even if it might just be for your own peace of mind....
Also, I'm assuming the small book shelves that you have at each set of desks are your own, since they made the move with you... so can you tell me where you got them? thanks.

travelingteacher said...

I LOVE your room!! Neat and organized is the only way to go---it saves time and energy and helps students create good habits!

Love it!

Madeleen said...

I love your room and you are very well organised!

Ranae said...

I am an elementary ed major getting ideas for the day I have my own classroom. I do not like clutter as it makes me feel claustrophobic and overwhelms me. If it does for me, it would for my students too.

Your room is amazing. My favorite shots were of the students because it showed a relaxed, comfortable, and well-run atmosphere. Thank you for sharing.

Anonymous said...

I've started collecting items to use this color scheme in my room next year. I think I'm being switched to teaching students with behavior disorders. I'm not worried about the red. I love the way your room looks!

Kellie King said...

I usually do not leave comments but feel compelled to do so based upon the negative comments left by others. First of all, I absolutely LOVE your room and would love to duplicate every part of it. Secondly, thank you for sharing with us and giving us the inspiration to make changes in our classrooms. Finally, I am shocked by the negative comments. If someone does not like it or disagrees, then close out of it and don't use the ideas. Wow!

Mrs.Olson said...

I was one of the people that first heard about you from Pinterest. I was looking at different classrooms and getting ideas. I have to say that I just love your ideas and what means the most is that you are a real teacher and you share how you design things and how it works with students.

Looking and blogging about classrooms helps pass the time whiel I am in college. It will be about 7 years before I have a class of my own. Thanks so much for blogging and sharing. I have "pinned" so many of your ideas for when I have a classroom of my own.


Tara said...

Very inspirational! I am curious about the dimensions of your room? I have a square room and am in the process of configuring my room to optimize space. Also, I noticed little cups on their desks.. What are they used for? I live the idea of group shelving. How tall are yours? Also, what do you feel is the best things to keep on the shelves? Do your students have room inside their desks? Thank you!

Lesson Plan SOS Teachers said...

I just found your blog by one of my teacher friends. She emailed me your blog link to this post and said that she wanted group her desks like you had them and provide a bookshelf for each team. I just wanted to say that after visiting your blog, I absolutely want to do the same thing! I just hate putting the bookshelves together!!! Congrats on creating a clean, organized, and creative classroom! I am sure your students just love it!
:) Melissa

Anonymous said...

This is the first room that caught my eye. I am actually looking for ideas for my classroom full of ADHD and behavioral,kids. Yours looks just like what I had in my head. I dont really believe the color/colorless debate is the real issue. Your room looks less cluttered up than most.

Anonymous said...

Hello! I love your room and would love to try bookshelves like you did! Did you blog about what you actually put on the shelves? What do you have your students keep there? Thanks so much!