Classroom Tour


I’ve gotten quite a few messages and emails requesting a classroom tour, so today’s the day!


Tables for Student Seating

As you can see in the photo above, which was taken from my doorway as you walk into the room, I use long rectangular tables for student seating. Each table can seat 5-6 students, although 4 is more ideal because that way they can spread out their books and papers and things and have some elbow room.

  • PROS of tables: The upside of using tables is that you have built-in student-to-student interaction. Students face each other, so they naturally gravitate toward working together, asking each other questions, and discussing what they’re doing. The kids at each table get to know each other better and trust and bonds are formed. I do a lot of partner and group work, so the tables eliminate kids having to scoot their desks around to be near each other.
  • CONS of tables: Just as our own biggest strengths can also be our biggest weaknesses, the closeness and communicative nature the tables encourage also make it difficult in certain situations. I can’t spread my students out well for standardized testing and semester exams, but luckily those events don’t occur too often during a school year. Also, if a student is off-task or being too social, it impacts other students pretty quickly due to their proximity to each other.

For me, the pros outweigh the cons. Nothing’s perfect and there are days when it would be easier if I went back to individual desks and rows, but for the most part, I really love using the tables.



Reading Area

Because I teach some remedial reading classes as well as an advanced (college-prep) reading class, I thought it was important that my classroom have a designated reading area. I made mine with cheap bookshelves and seats and 4 rugs put together. The students love having a different place to sit and read when given time to read in class. This area makes kids excited for time to read, and they get more enjoyment out of it (seems less like a chore or schoolwork). The only downside to this area is that it takes up a lot of floor space, so my room is a bit crowded.

Classroom Reading Area

Here’s the whole reading area. As you can see I use a variety of chairs, from dorm room style dish and folding chairs to plastic outdoor Adirondack style chairs. It’s funny how kids always develop their “favorite” chair style or chair for the year.

Classroom Reading Area Side

When I set up the reading area, my first thought was to have some sort of fake fireplace on this side wall. Try as I might, I couldn’t find an area of wall where I could stick a fireplace decal and not have chairs covering it up. So as a compromise, I bought a bunch of these little Andy Warhol flower prints and put them up like you would wall art in a living room. And check out my “raven” up there on the bookshelf! He’s been with me since I started teaching back in 1993. His name is Poe. 😀

Classroom Reading Area Library

Then here’s a closer view of my classroom library. The 4 shelves on the left side are all fiction, organized by the author’s last name. The one tall shelf on the far right is mostly nonfiction, but the top shelf is poetry, short stories, and a variety of other genres that didn’t fit anywhere else. I have books out on display in this area and I rotate these frequently. I find that when a book is “featured,” more students pick it up and want to read it. Makes it look more special, I guess.


On the Walls

I do a variety of things with the walls of my room.

Classroom Skills Wall

One area has reminders of all of the main skills and concepts we’ve worked on (I add a new brightly colored paper up as we start each new unit/skill throughout the year).

Student Visualization Projects

I also have student work displayed in some areas. This photo shows student drawings made in a lesson on visualizing what we read. Students chose passages either from Ray Bradbury’s Dandelion Wine or Something Wicked This Way Comes, or from Washington Irving’s “Rip Van Winkle.”  They had to highlight and record all of the sensory details they could find in their passages, then draw a scene that included those details and fill in any gaps with their mental picture of the scenes.

Chess Life wall

Then there’s the Chess Life wall area, where my chess team players post either inspirational quotes or funny jokes or memes related to chess.

assignment posting area

Another wall area displays a small white board where I post the week’s activities and assignments for my classes. This year I only have two preps so there are only two rows. I use washi tape to mark off the areas, so when I have more preps I can just add another row. You can also see my classroom felt letter board here in the front corner, as well as another of my plants. I have artificial plants sprinkled throughout my room to give it a more homey, relaxed atmosphere. They’re artificial because I don’t want to have to worry about them over Christmas and spring break, and especially not over the summer when I’m not here. To the right of this assignment board are my smartboard and another larger white board area. This wall makes up the “front” of my classroom. Although, since my students are in tables they face every direction and this makes it so there really is no “front,” or back for that matter,” in my room.


Everything Else

There are several other features of my classroom that I think are pretty cool.

Disco Ball in Classroom

One of the coolest things about my classroom is the DISCO BALL! It’s hanging right smack dab in the center of my room. Why? Because doesn’t a disco ball make everything seem just a little more awesome? YES!

tiki man bobblehead

This is the Tiki Man. He’s a bobblehead that a former student of mine made and then gave to me. Probably because he didn’t want to take it home with him, but that’s okay because I think he’s pretty neat. The kids always think Tiki Man is keeping an eye on them.

free books in the classroom

This is a little shelf area in the back of my room where students can get free books to take home. Some are ones I’ve weeded from my reading area that don’t get read as much anymore, and others are ones students themselves bring from home to share with other students. I am running a little low now that we’re nearing the last quarter of the year, but I usually have anywhere from 10-15 books in the free stack.

fake succulent

When I told a few of my students I was doing a blog post with a classroom tour, they insisted that I include this little fake succulent. It’s possible that this little plant gets more student questions asked about it from year to year than anything else in the room aside from the disco ball and the reading area. And maybe Tiki Man. The kids always think it’s real and pick it up to see. It’s been dropped about 10 times and has cracked and been glued a few times, but it still keeps on keeping on.

classroom storage tubs

Here’s a close-up of the tubs I use at the back of my classroom. You can also see these in the picture at the beginning of this post that shows the whole room. I have a tub for each of my 6 periods of the day and kids keep their class journals and folders in them, and some kids also will keep their books for independent reading in them, though a lot of kids take the books with them to read other places besides my classroom. I like it when they do that.

classroom computers

On this side wall I have a bank of 5 student computers. It’s not enough for a whole class to use at once, but they’re helpful in periods when students are using them on a flowing basis. We can also borrow Chromebooks from some of the teachers in my hallway who have a cart with a class set.


So that’s my classroom! What I didn’t get a photo of was the big table along the far side wall where I keep photocopied papers and beneath which I store a big tub full of all of our chess sets for chess team. As you can see, quarters in my room are a bit cramped. I try to make sure there is at least 2 feet between all items so students can walk from place to place. I sometimes have wheelchair-bound students and students on crutches in my room, and they are able to get wherever they need to go. I guess it’s more visually cluttered than anything.


Even though I’m a high school teacher, I try to make my room inviting and fun. In a future blog post I want to do classroom tours to show you some of my colleagues’ rooms. There are a few teachers in my hallway alone whose rooms are way better than mine. Can’t wait to show them to you sometime!


Going back to those student tables, do any of you out there use them at the secondary level? What do you like about them? Dislike? I am thinking of requesting those “corner” desks that can be put together easily to make a square small group area. My hesitation is, what if you want to do do groups of 5 or 6? Always looking for ways to improve student seating, so if you have any, share away!

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classroom tour

3-Year Blogiversary Favorite Things GIVEAWAY


This month I am celebrating my 3rd year of fashion & lifestyle blogging! For me, the best thing about doing this little blog has been the interaction with you, my awesome readers, over the years. I can’t tell you how much your readership, comments, and participation mean to me.


I started this blog as an outlet and a space to talk about all things style with a teacher-slash-mom twist. In my everyday life, I don’t go around talking about what I’m wearing or what styles are trending, what recipes I’m trying at home, how I’m changing up my home decor, fitness ideas and tips, or how I decorate my classroom. Somehow those things just don’t come up when I’m teaching my students, hanging out with my family, going to church or kids’ sporting events, walking my dog, working out, or grading. Crazy, right? But here at Everyday Teacher Style, I get to share my thoughts about those topics and also hear yours.


What I never expected was all of the great opportunities this blog has given me, from amazing new products to try to fun experiences.  Best of all are the meaningful friendships I’ve gained! Friends, I want to humbly thank all of you for sticking around and listening to my largely unimportant and irrelevant, but hopefully occasionally fun, fluff. So first off, THANKS!


Second, everybody knows it’s better to give than to receive (especially this time of the year when my closets and counters are full of things I need to organize, put away, or purge….ugh), so even though it’s my blogiversary, I’m giving away a pretty fantastic little box of presents!


blogiversary giveaway prizes


One lucky sweet reader will receive a fun mix of my favorite things:
  • $25 Target gift card
  • $25 Starbucks gift card
  • $50 Jord Wood Watches gift card
  • $25 Amazon gift card
  • Leather leopard-print drop earrings
  • BaubleBar Mitra Y Choker Necklace
  • Natural Chic Hand Woven Ring Handle Tote
  • Pom Pom Tassel
  • OPI Nail Polish in x, x, and x
  • Monat “The Champ” Dry Shampoo
  • Cork Journal/Notebook
  • Pilot Acroball Pens (2)
  • Pastel M&Ms
  • Target Sunnies
  • Pineapple Wall Art


More info and a description of each of these items is below.


How to Enter

Leave a comment letting me know what you’d like to see on Everyday Teacher Style this year. More reviews? Instagram outfit roundups? Fashion picks? Quick/healthy recipes? Home projects? Fitness/health? Teacher and/or mom hacks? Videos? Let me know! To enter the giveaway, complete the mandatory tasks on the Rafflecopter widget. You can get extra entries by doing the additional (optional) tasks.   This giveaway is not sponsored or affiliated with any of the brands or merchants included in the prize package. The giveaway is open to US residents 18 and over: not responsible for damage or loss in shipping. Good luck, everyone!

a Rafflecopter giveaway


More Info on the Prize Loot


target amazon jord starbucks gift cards

Pretty self-explanatory here. The gift cards include Starbucks $25, Target $25, Amazon $25, and Jord Wood Watches $50.


leather leopard print drop earrings lightweight

These lightweight leopard-print leather drop earrings are from Similar ones are still available.


bauble bar mitra layered turquoise y necklace

I laid this necklace on the white paper of the notebook so you could see it better. It’s from Bauble Bar and it’s the Mitra Y Choker in turquoise.


natural chic woven ring handle tote bag summer

This is the Natural Chic Woven Ring Handle Tote (from Amazon) and I am also including a cute little tie-on pom pom tassel from Target that you can attach or use for something else.


OPI Tropical Shades Nail Polish

Aren’t these nail polish shades perfect for spring and summer? They have a beachy, tropical vibe that makes them my favorite. The shades are That’s Hula-rious (light green), Tutti Frutti Tonga (light coral-pink), and Gelato On My Mind (light blue). Sweet!


Monat’s “The Champ” Conditioning Dry Shampoo is hands-down the best dry shampoo I’ve ever tried. I’m on my third can now and it’s amazing. Smells great, leaves my hair clean and shiny, gives added volume, and doesn’t leave my hair “powdery” or chalky/gray. My previous favorite, Klorane, is good (Battiste didn’t work well for me — too chalky), but can’t touch The Champ. If you dry shampoo several days a week like I do, this is a MUST.


Mead Cork Notebook

This is just a small (8.5″ x 6″) cork college-ruled notebook by Mead that I use for basically everything. I’m on probably my 6th one of these little guys. I carry one around with me at school to jot down ideas or make lists, and I also have one that I use for home/personal stuff that I have either in my tote bag or on my kitchen counter. So handy!


Pilot Acroball White Pens

Have you ever used Pilot Acroball Pure White Vivid Ball Point Pens? Well if you had, you’d know why they’re my favorite. These are my holy grail pens, especially in blue ink (sorry, these two in my giveaway are black ink: couldn’t find any blue ink ones at the store).


Why is it that the pastel Easter peanut M&Ms taste better than regular peanut M&Ms? The world may never know.


These Target Cateye sunnies have a bit of the cat eye look, but they’re subtle — almost more like a larger Wayfarer shape. The pink/coral pearl acetate sides are pretty, and they have a rose gold tint to the lenses. Spotted them at Target and knew you’d like them. 🙂


This little cutie is a wood-edged flush-mount pineapple. It’s 6″ x 6″ x 1.5″ so it would be perfect for your gallery wall or maybe the kitchen or bathroom.


That’s it! Hope you love all of these items as much as I do!

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Note: I purchased all of these items for the giveaway except for the $50 Jord gift card, which was given to me by Jord Wood Watches. Nearly all of the links in this post are affiliate links, which means clicking on them may result in my earning a small commission. I truly appreciate your support of my blog. As always, all opinions expressed here are 100% my own.


Foot-Friendly and Fashionable Series: Keeping Your Feet Happy


Welcome to Part 2 of my Foot-Friendly and Fashionable Series! In Part 1 I shared with you some cute summer sandals that you can actually walk all day in and not end up with sore feet.  Part 2 is all about how to keep your feet happy so you can keep on wearing cute shoes, conquering your world, and just plain being awesome.


This will be the first-ever Everyday Teacher Style guest post, and I’m super-excited to introduce you to Amanda Walrath, a physical therapist and fitness-slash-faith blogger at TempleTrain who’ll be sharing with you some ways to keep your feet happy in Part 2 of this series. Amanda and I go way back. I first met her at a hospital. No, she wasn’t working there…she was being born. Yep, Amanda’s my younger sister. She also happens to be the best physical therapist and fitness guru I know, so I’m thrilled to have her here letting us know how to keep our clod-hoppers in good working order.



Amanda Walrath, PT

Our feet are our foundation for supporting our entire body! Each foot sports 26 bones and over 100 muscles and ligaments.  Today I’m sharing a few tips and techniques you can use to protect your feet from injury and maintain general foot health. Keep in mind that to diagnose a specific foot issue, you should see your physician or other qualified health care professional.


Over-the-counter cushions and supports:

There are many over the counter options that can cushion and/or provide support to your feet and help them stay comfortable when walking or exercising. Two examples are arch supports and metatarsal pads. You may need a more custom orthotic as well.  YOUR HEALTH PROVIDER CAN HELP YOU DECIDE WHICH SUPPORTS WOULD GIVE YOU THE MOST BENEFIT.


For example, Jenny uses Spenco Total Support insoles in her fashion sneakers to provide support for walking, and they’re also great for working out if your running or training shoes’ built-in insoles are lacking. There are a variety of insoles for various foot needs.

Preventing & Treating Common Foot Issues

Here are a few tips to self-treat some common foot issues and keep your feet happy.


  • Maintain a healthy weight. Extra pounds are hard on weight-bearing joints and cause extra stress.
  • Warm up before working out. This could be as simple as raising up and down on your toes 10-20 times or taking a short walk or slow jog.
  • Stretch before, during, and after a workout. Warm muscles stretch better than cold muscles, so save most intense stretches for when your muscles are warm.  (See standing calf stretch and Soleus Stretch below.) 
  • Wear well fitting shoes. Choose shoes with a wide toe box to maintain plenty of room for the toes. Toes should never be cramped or pushed together in shoes.
  • Strengthen the muscles of the foot with balance and intrinsic muscle exercises.  (See foot strengthening exercises below.)   : 1. balance with one foot on a Bosu ball, mini trampoline, or even a pillow or couch cushion. Try to hold for up to a minute. 2. Scrunch a towel with the toes, repeat 5 x toward you and 5 x away.  3. Pick up small items ( tissues) with your toes.

Standing Calf Stretch

Face and lean into a wall. Extend one leg back and keep leg straight and heel down. Gently lean forward until a stretch is felt in the back of the calf. Hold 20-30 seconds and repeat twice on each leg.

standing calf stretch and soleus stretch

Standing Calf Stretch (left) and Soleus Stretch (right)


Soleus Stretch

This stretch is similar to the standing calf stretch, except you slightly bend the back knee while maintaining your heel on the floor. The stretch will be felt lower in the calf and down into the heel.



Foot-Strengthening Exercises

A. Balance with one foot on a Bosu ball, mini trampoline, or even a pillow or couch cushion. Try to hold for up to a minute.

B. Scrunch a towel with the toes. Repeat 5 times toward you and 5 times away.

C. Pick up small items (tissues, etc.) with your toes.

foot strengthening exercises

Foot-Strengthening Exercises



If a foot injury occurs, remember RICE:  Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation. A great icing technique for the foot is using a frozen water bottle to roll under the foot.


With a little extra attention to your “foot foundation,” your feet will be able to carry you through everything with style.

Tread on!



Read Part 1 in the Foot Friendly and Fashionable Series: Sandals

Note: This post contains an affiliate link. Clicking on this link (to the Spenco Insoles) may result in my earning a small commission. As always, all opinions expressed here are 100% my own.