07/30/2014 01:12 pm ET | Updated Sep 29, 2014

A Teacher's Supply List: A Rug, a Lamp, and a Plant


I asked a group of elementary and secondary students this question: "What should teachers be doing right now to get ready for the first day of school?"

Their answers may surprise you as much as they surprised me. These are just a few of the responses from students:

• Make the classroom feel like home. It should be very welcoming when I walk in.

• The room should be attractive and inviting.

• Don't put out so much stuff. It's too hard to concentrate when the room is packed with stuff.

The overwhelming feeling conveyed during our conversation was that a teacher at any grade level must create a cozy, attractive, warm and inviting atmosphere for students.

I thought back to my own teaching days and remembered three things that helped me achieve that kind of environment. I always made sure I had a rug, a lamp and a plant. These three tangible objects made such a difference!

If you don't believe me, then go try it yourself. The effect will amaze you. The warm glow of a lamp completely changes the feel of the room. A rug conveys the softness of home. A green plant feels inviting while making the room more pleasing to the eye.

I realize that asking students instead of the teachers what teachers should be doing now to prepare for the first day of school might seen like a backward approach. Were the answers what you expected?

Maybe all of us who teach should listen. After all, the classroom should belong to the students too, right?