This morning was our first really frosty morning here in Cambridgeshire – time to start to think about making some changes in our classrooms and get ready for the winter months!
As the weather outside changes and temperatures fall so we do have to think about our classrooms and how we have to adapt. Let’s leave the problems of boilers, gritted surfaces and snow warnings to the senior management team, but for now we need to consider our own little patch…..our classroom and of course our children!
School and room temperatures
As the temperatures start to fall outside so the temperatures start to rise from the heating inside the school and also inside your classroom. If you are in a modern building with thermostats then you do have an advantage in so far as you can adjust the heating to suit your preference (although these may be locked and you might have to ask the caretaker). However if you are in an older building then you will find that the radiators can become oppressively hot and you will often be able to hear the pipes and radiators creaking with the heat as the expand!
The problem here is twofold…
- The children come to school more wrapped up to keep warm.
- Just what is a good working temperature for a class?
So let’s leave aside the problems of extra clothing for a minute and look at the potential problems of temperature.
Let me say from the outset that I always run a cold classroom – no, not freezing cold but quite cool even through the winter. I never expect any children to have to remove sweat tops or jumpers when they are in my classroom and I would rather it be on the cool side than too warm.
From my perspective being too hot in a classroom makes it uncomfortable to work, the children seem to develop a sleepy approach to things and to be absolutely honest (and having walked into classes that were too hot)….they can just stink!
Use yourself as a guide….expect to dress for winter and don’t crank up the heating to make it feel too warm. You will have 30 bodies in there…it will soon warm up when you get started!
If you are unable to adjust your thermostat or radiator valves then have a word with the caretaker….turn them down and crack the windows slightly if necessary. Oh and just as an extra…if you are running hot radiators spare a thought for the poor souls who may have their desks backed near to it….it’s not very nice after a while!
Keep an eye on the children in your class
At this time of year you need to keep an eye on how the children in your class are dressing. The weather is getting colder and so we are expecting to see our class arriving in clothes that are going to be warm and protective.
However, this is not always the case and there may be occasions when a child is not dressed appropriately for the weather. This may be for a few reasons, but there are 2 decisions that you need to make.
- Is this a child of concern and do I need to raise this as an issue with the colleague who has responsibility for child protection in the school (if you don’t know who this is then go to the HT who is definitely responsible). Here some form of warm clothing needs to be found for the child
- Perhaps this is a one off situation – let’s say the child is at grans overnight and so do I need to provide perhaps a coat / gloves or even sweatshirt for today…and of course mention something to mum or dad? If you are mentioning to mum and dad then you need to approach this carefully as no-one likes to be criticised for being a poor parent. Perhaps asking “xxxx was a bit cold today – had he/she left their coat at school yesterday?”….be tactful – but it does let mum or dad know that you have noticed and so they need to do something!
(In both these situations clothes may need to be found at school. Usually schools keep a supply from previous unclaimed lost property or have clothes donated from children who have left.)
Be also on the lookout as to correct footwear as the weather deteriorates…again needs mentioning or referring….example summer sandals in snow or no socks!
With all this extra clothing also comes the extra problems – that of identification! There may well have been a reminder sent home in the school newsletter but if not and you want to send a quick note home then make sure you get it ok’d by senior staff before it goes out.
- Coats, sweatshirts and scarves all need naming if possible
- Gloves should preferably be attached to coats by wool etc if possible
- Wellington boots need names inside
The problem is that all school uniform stuff looks the same and most parents buy school clothes from roughly the same stores….so that all looks the same.
The rule of thumb here is just to remind as best you can – but experience will show that it will all end up in a pile on the cloakroom floor and nobody will know who own what! If you have room then pegging wellingtons together at the back of the class really saves a problem as cloakrooms are never designed to deal with lots of spare boot and shoes. This can also be exacerbated if your school has an indoor / outdoor shoe policy for the winter!
When the weather really starts to bite and snow arrives then we have the problem of wet clothes and shoes (and by default socks!)
This is really a pain to deal with. Coats can be left in the cloakroom as we cannot deal with them. Shoes and socks can be put near radiators in the classroom as we try to get them something like dry! If children have indoor shoes then at least they will have something on their feet. For wet trousers or dresses then we are referring to T.A help and looking for spare tracksuit bottoms or alternatives in order that we can get clothes dry. Some quite forward thinking schools have invested in tumble driers which seems a good idea. (wish I had thought of it in my schools!)
For any child whose clothes are absolutely soaked (and being dried) then of course they should be allowed to stay in at break or lunchtimes. However this will be the exception rather than the norm so you shouldn’t have to do this too often – and to be honest if the weather is so bad then it is most likely that the whole school is inside anyway!
Well that’s a starting point to get you thinking ahead towards these things….I will pick up in the next article on getting yourself prepared for the winter months and also the problems of bad weather indoor breaks!