Classroom Design 2020: Stirring up the Peace of God

As I’ve been preparing to welcome small groups of students back come Mid-October, I’ve been as intentional as possible to create a calming classroom space. Here are some elements I’ve chosen to include to develop that kind of atmosphere for my students.

As many plants as possible

With the help of a handful of donors, some local Facebook groups related to plants, and more, I’ve been able to secure about 10 plants to grace the tops of my bookshelves. As COVID-19 has made the prospect of students’ sharing printed books more daunting, it is much more likely students will be reading books on websites like Kids A-Z. With fewer books on display and greater mental/emotional strain on both students and teachers, my plants have become a priority.

With a toy brontosaurus guarding our ivy and the leaves of the golden pothos trailing the floor, we are more than ready for students to develop their stewardship through plant care.
I am have added this light-changing essential oil diffuser with the hope that when students are overwhelmed, allowing themselves to be captivated by the calming lights will help them feel centered. Please pardon the spilled mulch. 🙂
Year after year, students have loved planting seeds in the soil of this terrarium, watching seedlings grow roots, and gradually tending them.

Scripture on the Walls

May our students be captivated with wonder for the beauty of God’s word! In order that they will love the Lord with all of hearts, souls, strength, and entire beings, love to share verses on the walls. In addition to teaching about God in conventional and unconventional times of day, Deuteronomy 6:9 advocates for “writ[ing] them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates”. With two posters of verses from the Psalms, one from Jeremiah, and another from Hebrews, I hope that these verses will lead my students into productive day dreaming about the majesty of God.

These books are a reflection of my three focus areas for this year: faith, nations, and the natural world.
Verses from Hebrews and Jeremiah guarding the going in and coming out of our storage closet.

Focus on the Nations

This year, I’ve sensed such a real opportunity to teach my students to pray in intercession for the nations. I’m hoping to use National Geographic Kids country profiles and other resources from Kids A-Z to focus on 2-3 nations per week, teaching several facts about each as we intercede for them in prayer each morning. Just as I want my students to internalize their responsibility to steward the Earth through plant care, I hope that they will internalize a responsibility for the nations and Church worldwide through prayer.

With God’s favor, I found this complete puzzle for free on a curb in our neighborhood! Not even a piece was missing, and several students and staff in the building were able to take a brain break from their tasks to help me construct it.

What next?

While our control might be limited as to the contexts of teaching and learning, it has been obvious from our first month of digital instruction that the students are still learning! Some students who even struggle to remain focused in a 20 person classroom have even benefited especially from learning at home. As we learn new ways of being together, accepting that there may be a time to refrain from embracing, we can celebrate knowing that again there will be a season where we can enjoy learning in person.

My favorite children’s book (that features illustrations with art from around the globe) has a timely word for this season.

Published by Haley Nus

I am a bilingual Christian Educator in the heart of D.C. who longs to see revival transform K-12 education both domestically and internationally. I believe that inquiry-based and experiential teaching methods pair seamlessly with godly awe and point us through the gospel towards a Creator who invites us to taste and see his goodness (Psalm 34:8). While I love sharing the gospel with people, I take Jesus's invitation to welcome children in his name (Luke 9:48) and Jesus's exhortation to become like children (Mathew 18:3) literally! In order to shape the world well for adults, we must serve the youngest among us so that we will truly understand who we are as sons and daughters (2 Corinthians 6:18).

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