I remember walking into my classroom for the first time. It was brand new, and I could not wait to start setting up my classroom. This is an OLD photo of me, hence the blurriness. To say I was excited was an understatement. I began dreaming of what I wanted it to look like.
The next day I started moving things in. There were piles and piles of stuff. Stuff that needed a place. The problem was, I didn't have a plan. I ended up sitting in my brand new classroom floor crying.
My mom came in and reminded me how blessed I was to have such an amazing classroom. She told me to make a plan and get started. Before I knew it, my classroom was perfect.
I don't want you sitting in your classroom crying. No one has time for that! Here are some tips to help you as you set up your classroom.
1. Be kind to everyone in your building.
Be kind to everyone in your building. It's just the right thing to do.
You'll need the custodians to help you put things in high places, fix that broken bookshelf, and carry heavy furniture. Be genuinely kind to them, and they will be happy to help you.
You'll need the secretary to be nice to you when you forget to do your attendance. He or she will also keep an eye out for that package that's arriving this week and tell you where the best office supplies are hidden.
2. Keep an open flow.
There are an endless amount of desk arrangements that you can try. Whatever you choose, make sure that it doesn't block the flow of movement in your classroom.
If you store manipulative in the middle of the classroom, make sure that desks aren't going to block traffic to this area.
If students use your whiteboard and/or interactive board often, don't put anything in front of them that would block students having easy access to this area.
3. Don't use all of your wall space.
Don't get me wrong - I love a cute classroom! I love all of the matching decor and pretty colors. Absolutely use your wall space - just don't cover it completely.
Research shows that children in highly-decorated classrooms are more distracted, spent more time off-task, and had lower learning gains.
4. Make it feel comfortable.
You and your students spend the majority of your day inside your classroom. Why not make it feel like a home away from home?
Your classroom doesn't need to be perfect. But it does need to feel welcoming.
Use students' names to label things. Give everyone their own cubby, or place to put their backpacks. Use name tags on their desks, book boxes, and anywhere else that students will use.
If you have a reading corner, add some bright pillows and even a blanket, if you can. If you're worried about germs, you can use kinder mats and make these cute covers. If you're not crafty, ask your students' family members if they would like to help with this project.
5. Create a place for everything.
My motto is, and always has been, "a place for everything, and everything in its place."
Before those precious children arrive, make sure that you know where everything is. If you have a label-maker, use it! I have this one. It's wireless and creates the best labels!
As you are making plans for those first weeks back to school, show your students where everything is. Let them know if there are any areas that are off limits (such as filing cabinets) and tell them where to find everything. Then tell them again.
Make sure you have a procedure for EVERYTHING. Let me say this again. EVERYTHING needs a procedure. Can students get up during a lesson to get a new pencil? What do students do if they need a red marker? Are students allowed to use notebook paper to draw if they finish early? Make a procedure for everything.
I hope these tips are helpful as you are setting up your new classroom!