What are kids’ basic needs in the classroom? In the first section of the book, The Third Teacher, the authors provide a variety of key points. Following Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, one should start with the basic physiological needs: Food, Water, Shelter, & Warmth (possibly Coolness too if the weather is like it is in Seattle today). The next level up is safety (security, freedom from fear, and so on). I like how the authors stress that this must be in place before moving up further as “children are ready to learn only when they’re safe and secure.”
As I prepare to move in to a new space in the fall, some things have already been taken care of by the design of the building. “Many classrooms feature a speech intelligibility rating of 75% or less. That means listeners with normal hearing can understand only 75% of the words read from a list.” Acoustic panels will be in every room which will hopefully help with communication and increase the intelligibility rating. Another design element that will be in place is increased natural daylight (even the grey winter skies in this part of the world) will come streaming in through large windows . I’ve been in two classrooms in the nine years I’ve taught at my current school and both those rooms were in a basement space. Apparently more natural light improve test scores. Whether that’s true or not, I’m really looking forward to naturally ventilated and naturally lit rooms with skylights and floor to ceiling windows.
This part of the book also recommends changing up the locations of various activities in the classroom. In most lower elementary classrooms, teaching is done on the carpet, at their desks, in small groups around a center and hopefully as I begin to arrange my classroom in August, these spaces will become clear. The book has a great companion website. Click the image below to get there.