Classroom Setup 101
Come teacher work days at the end of your glorious summer break, will you know how you want to set up your room? Do you have ideas but aren't sure where to start? This is my yearly method for setting up my classroom!
1. Reread, Refresh, Refocus.
At the end of every summer, I reread one of my favorite teacher books Classroom Spaces that Work. It is a practical guide for how you should set up your room based on the age group you're teaching. It is a must read for all teachers, especially us newbies! Then, along with this book, its time to pinterest binge, instastalk, facebook creep, look EVERYWHERE for ideas of classroom inspiration. You need to have a vision for what you want your room to look like before you can create it. Do you have a theme? Color-scheme? Layout ideas? I like to have all of my ideas on paper; I write notes, print and paste ideas, basically make a scrap book of what I want my room to look like. But you do whatever works for you, whether that's a pinterest board, list, folder, etc. as long as you have a clear vision for what you want your classroom to look like.
2. Deep Clean
If you did not purge items and clean out spaces at the end of last year, time to do that now! A safe rule is, if you haven't used it in two years, it is time to toss it or give it away. Wipe down all surfaces in your room, desks, shelves, counters, you name it. Now, some people say this is when you organize your belongings, but I save this step for a little bit down the road.
3. Four Corners
Now that your mind is set and room is clean, get all your furniture in place. I start with the four corners of the room. First, my teacher corner, which is where I want my desk to be along with any of my storage items. Then, I do the class library in the next corner. I like to use the shelves to partition the library from the rest of the room, the separation helps students focus when in this area of the room. My third corner is a bit of a dead space, I only have a few feet between student cubbies and the wall. Since I couldn't do much with this corner, I put my second rolling cabinet in that corner. My fourth corner is right by the door and I intentionally use this space for whole class communication and supplies. Mailboxes, folders, paper, pencils, finished work trays, etc., all right in the front of the room next to the calendar bulletin board (I talk about the purpose of my calendar board in a third grade classroom in this post)
4. Whole Group Learning Space
Once the corners are done, I make the whole group learning space clear. Most do this with a carpet in the front of the room facing a board. If you don't have a carpet you can make this whole group space clear by facing all of the desks towards the front and leaving space for students to sit. Colorful tape is a great way to make clear boundaries for where you want students to sit when in this space!
5. Arranging Desks
How you want to arrange your desks is completely based on your preference, teaching style, and needs of the students in your classroom. I am a fan of mini U or C arrangements, that way students are in a group and none of their backs are to me when I am teaching. BUT, my biggest must do when arranging desks is walking around them multiple times and sitting in each desk. I walk around to make sure students have room to move and that groups aren't too close to one another (or other furniture) and I sit in each desk to make sure students can see and hear from their spot.
6. Organize and Decorate
Now that all of the big stuff is in place, or as I like to call it your classroom skeleton is structured, it is time for the personal details. You can set up your desk and personal storage how you best see fit, arrange your library books or math manipulatives, put up your bulletin boards, etc. These are the final touches that make your room feel like you! But, don't get too hung up on the fun stuff and forget to organize your resources in a neat and practical way. Why is this so important? Everyone will have a day where at the last minute need one more copy, want to pull out those task cards for a center, grab that folder full with interventions a small group clearly needs more instruction with. If you are organized and know exactly where your things are, this last minute additions to your day add to more relevance and intention to your instruction without giving away time. However, if you spend 5-10 minutes having to find and gather everything you need for these last minute occurrences, you're just wasting time and all the benefits of your sudden idea are for naught. If a non-teacher hears you wasted 5-10 minutes they wouldn't think it is a big deal. But to teachers, that is one third to a half of your time with a small group, makes you run late into switching blocks or for starting the next subject/lesson, or somehow takes away from your instruction. We are teachers, we know every minute counts, that means being organized isn't optional.
The pictures I have included are from setting up my room this past December. I will be adding more current pictures as I set up my classroom this August! Tag me on Instagram as you set up your classroom! @entering_elementary
December 2017-January 2018 During
January 2018 After
Lauren Mary Medlin