If someone would have told me when I first started teaching that one day I would be teaching from my kitchen, I would have thought they were crazy. Now, almost all of us have had the experience of teaching remotely and we know how important it is to have a functional workspace in our homes. While you’re probably asking yourself why I didn’t write something like this during the very beginning of the year, it’s because it takes time to develop a functional space. After getting my routines and procedures set, I created a workspace that would be organized for my daily routine, while not completely taking over my studio apartment. Here are five things in my teaching from home set-up that support my classroom routines…
Storage was the game changer for me. I had piles, boxes and bags of supplies surrounding my kitchen table, spilling over onto kitchen counters. I just repurposed a set of plastic clear drawers and put them under my kitchen table. Currently, I’m keeping things like books to reference from school, supplies to organize for supply pick-ups, extra work packets, whiteboard, alphabet visuals and other office supplies. While it does take up some space, it is under the table and out of the way. I store my pencils and other supplies in cups on my table, but there is room in the drawers so I can put them in there at the end of my work day, so I can relax and eat at my kitchen table without feeling like I’m at work.
I take out all the essentials I need and have them on my table throughout the day. This includes my planner, a small whiteboard, my stack of cookbooks (for getting the just right camera height), my small notebook, Jolly Phonics letters and my cup of pens and pencils. Also have a cup of self-care items including hand serum, lip balm, cuticle serum and a jade roller, for breaks and prep time. I try not to have a lot of items because my apartment is small and I use a lot of materials online. I keep these essentials in my plastic clear drawers when I am not teaching. Being in a small space and having limited trips to my classroom really made me think about which learning materials were really essential and which could be adapted online.
3. Flexible Seating
I didn’t realize how physical my job was until I started working from home. At first, I always sat in the same place, but then I realized that I needed to be able to stand because it just felt better for my body and more like I was teaching when I was in the classroom. I created a very inexpensive stand up desk using an Ikea stool and a stack of cookbooks. I also will sit on two different sides of my table during small group instruction. Having the variety of seating does mimic my work day and standing for at least part of the day is helpful for physical health and focus.
I decided to post my schedules on the wall because it’s hard to flip back and forth between tabs when teaching on Google Meet. I will also be posting my assessment schedules and passwords as a quick reference as well. It’s not something I remove from my wall on a daily basis, but it is not distracting to me when I am trying to put my work materials away in order to relax and maintain a work-life balance. Plus, it gives me the opportunity to practice lettering and an excuse to keep buying different kinds of colorful writing instruments.
I have decorations that are just for myself and ones that are for on camera. I took things from my classroom that reminded me of work: a picture of my first class, an owl stuffed animal and a pencil case shaped like a pencil. For me, this just makes my workspace look and feel joyful when I am standing up and teaching. I also decorated one of my walls with spider garland for Halloween, since sometimes I teach with that wall behind me. I don’t put up instructional materials because most of them are online. I will definitely update my spider wall for the upcoming seasons and holidays.
I hope this gives you some ideas on how you might want to set-up or adjust your teaching from home set-up. As always, please share your ideas for having an organized workspace at home. Stay safe and healthy!