It’s back-to-school time for kids across the country, but for the lucky sixth- to eighth-grade students in Stephanie Stephens’ classroom at James L. Capps Middle School in Oklahoma City, they’re already off to a wizardry first few days of learning.
“One of the toughest things as a reading teacher is instilling a love of reading in students that do not like reading,” Stephens, 31, wrote to ABC News of her magical “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone”-themed classroom. “This year, I chose to go with a Harry Potter theme because if I am excited and enthusiastic, students tend to follow suit. My goal is to help students find at least one book or genre that they can find exciting and be as enthusiastic about as I am regarding Harry Potter.”
When her kids walked into her elective reading and math classroom on the first day of school Aug. 20, they were all excited to take a tour of the room that felt like they had walked straight into Hogwarts.
“The majority of students loved the potions most!,” Stephens wrote.
It took the creative teacher a week to plan and order the different book-themed items.
“I thought of everything that happened in “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone,” she explained. “ I chose to keep with only the first book regarding decorating. I made a list of things that I could decorate the room with. I thought of all the magical things Harry saw and experienced and put myself in his shoes and picked the things that I could pull off in a classroom. I never got to a broom or mirror, but I plan to add that to my room at a later time.”
Stephens and her husband are such avid fans of the “Harry Potter” books and movies that she says they actually “fall asleep to a ‘Harry Potter’ movie every night.”
She’s encouraging her students to be enthusiastic about school and learning by splitting her classes up into different “houses” where they will earn “house points” for positive behavior.
“Each class is a different house and they will earn house points for different positive behaviors in my classroom (5 points for a 100% on an assessment, 1 point each day when a class picks up the classroom before leaving, 2 points for students who bring all their supplies to class, 5 points for students who are kind and help others without being asked, etc.),” Stephens wrote. “Once the house points jar fills up they get a class reward.”
The prefect desk will also be used to highlight her student helper for the week who assists her in the classroom with checking iPads in and out to their fellow classmates, passing out papers, collecting papers and running errands for Stephens.
“A student is chosen for the prefect desk by following our school beliefs: ‘Be Safe, Be Respectful, Be Responsible, Be Prompt,’” she explained. “The students are very excited about the chance to be a prefect.”
The photos of Stephens’ magical classroom have gotten more than 10,000 views since her husband posted them to Reddit. She’s grateful for all the attention they’re receiving, but says she simply does what she does for her students “because they deserve the best.”
“My students mean the world to me,” she added, “and I hope my enthusiasm for reading will transfer to each and every one of my kids.”