For many of us, it seems like summer has just begun, especially here in the Northwest were we had so much rain that it seemed like April for three months! Teachers know better, though, and while some are ALREADY back to school, most around the country are just about ready to start getting their classrooms ready for the influx of new students in a little less than a month.
Setting up your classroom can be both exciting and exhausting. There’s a lot to consider, after all. On the other hand, so many fun choices make it a great time to stretch your creative muscles. Spending a little time to plan in advance can remove some of that panicky feeling and replace it with confidence, as well as to free up some time for the fun stuff!
To set your classroom up in a way that works best for you, your teaching style, and your students, use this checklist to generate and act on your great ideas.
- Desk arrangement – Do you prefer large class discussions, small group work, or having students a little more isolated to discourage whispering? Think ahead to what kind of desk arrangement will best support your style.
- Focal points – Most of the time, students are facing forward, so think about what things are most important to have at the front of the room. Along those same lines, consider what more distracting things can be placed in the back of the room where they’re accessible but not drawing your students’ attention away from you.
- Supplies – Do you allow students to get their own supplies during the day, or do they need to ask permission? For those things you feel comfortable having them access on their own, make sure they are easy to get to and create less hassle for yourself. On the other hand, you may have some items you want to keep tabs on, and those should be kept somewhere less accessible.
- Self-Expression – Your classroom is an extension of yourself and how you want your students to see you. Use bulletin boards, artwork, and other methods to communicate your style. Not only does it help connect with your students, but it also makes your room feel more comfortable to you.
- Organize! – From the classroom library to what’s lurking in the cabinets above the sink, organizing your materials will save you (and your students) a ton of time and frustration in the long run. Group similar items together and have them located in the classroom near where they will likely be used. Consider using clear plastic bins with labels, and put less-used items further out of reach so you can more easily get to what you need often.
- Set the rules – Every teacher varies a bit when it comes to rules and consequences. Make sure that yours are prominently displayed so there can be no arguments or misunderstandings later.
Each of these suggestions is something you can ponder and decide before you ever step foot in the classroom. That means that when it’s time to head back and get things set up, you will already have a plan and can get started right away instead of sitting in your room feeling anxious about what needs to be done.