Setting Up Your Classroom

When should you start setting up your classroom? Let me tell you a story... School starts in two weeks. You think you have tons of time to hang out and savor the last of summer.

What you don’t know is that much of the staff is already back on campus, having impromptu “hallway meetings” about the upcoming year, sharing ideas. You need to be working - now!

Get into your classroom as soon as possible to start planning!

I didn’t know this my first year, and received a phone call from my principal about two weeks before school started asking, “Are you still going to teach here this year?” I said, “Of course! Why?” and she proceeded to tell me how I was the only teacher that had not been to school yet! Wow – I felt really dumb, but I learned to make an appearance as soon as possible every summer.

What you need to do is call the school and ask when you can start setting up your classroom. Most, if not all, schools are cleaned during the summer. Find out when your room will be ready, and go in at least once to see the layout of your room, pick up any teaching manuals/curriculum you need to learn, and meet everyone in the office.

When you go in the first time, bring something with you that will make you look “ready”. Bring the workings of an interactive bulletin board, or an article you’d like to share, or some centers that you have ready. This will make administration think you’re prepared and they will be happy with the decision they made.

Look prepared, even if you're not!

Once you’re in your classroom, don't just being setting up your classroom! First, just sit someplace comfortable and get the feel of the room. Visualize where the story rug should go, where tables and desks should be placed, where your personal area (or teacher desk, if you need it) would go.

If you're in a Kindergarten or Primary room, think about where your music area will be. If you plan on singing, or using listening center - you need to make sure it is by an electrical outlet.

Before you do anything in the room, think. Having a plan about setting up your classroom will save you tons of time and backaches in the long run.

Think before you start setting up. A plan will save you time, energy and stress.

Lots of teachers go in and spend hours making lots of pretty bulletin boards before the kids ever walk in the door. I am firmly against this. It is a waste of valuable time for you. Also, the children need to own their classroom and if you do all the work, it isn’t their room.

Bulletin boards are fun, but not necessary to start the year.

I only put background paper and border up. That’s it. Really, I’m not kidding. Some principals I have had were fine with this, some were not, some I won over, and some I didn’t. Most principals said something like this, “Aren’t you afraid the parents will think you’re not ready?” No, I’m not afraid because I know how important it is for children to feel comfortable, and seeing their work on the walls makes them feel comfortable. Pick your battles; this is a battle I fight for.

Names are a very important part of school. Kids love to see their names around the room. Make sure you have their name on the desk, locker, table, cubby, centers board, and anywhere else you can. It may seem like a lot of work to do before the kids come, but they will love you more for it.

Before a child or parent walks into your classroom, make sure it looks “clean”. I go through baby-wipes, paper towels and Windex like crazy at the beginning of the year. Make it look good and the parents will feel you’re good.

A clean room is more welcoming.

Lesson plans for the first week of school should be written at this time. They will change, but if you have a basic outline you can hit the ground running when the kids arrive.

Take some time to plan with your team or grade mates. This will help you learn how they organize materials, what skills they feel are most important and how long it takes to plan. If you have an outline of the first week, you will feel much more comfortable to start the year.

Wanting more ideas? Sign up for my free teaching newsletter and get ideas sent right to your email box.

New teacher? Struggling teacher? Download my free eBook that's packed with ideas, tips and tricks to get you through a rough year.

Still have questions? Contact me about setting up your classroom.

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