Setting Up Your Classroom: 9 Practical Things You May Not Have Thought Of
Getting your room ready for the school year can be extremely exciting. It’s also a whole lot of work. There are books to prepare, desks to arrange, decorations to create……The list seems never-ending.
What we really need to focus on, though, is functionality. Yes, it’s great if our rooms are cute and fun, but it’s more important that we be strategic in how we set things up so that we can maximize our efficiency.
So let’s take a look at some practical areas we can set up to save time and help the students learn.
9 Areas to Include When Setting Up Your Room
- A station for you. You need a place somewhere in the front of the room to stash all those supplies that you need to have handy while teaching. If your desk is at the front, that could work. But if it’s in the back, you need a secondary station where you can keep your notes, pen, etc.
- In/out bins. If you don’t use in/out bins in your room, adding these can really save a lot of time. What I do is I have one large in bin for group work. (After students pass in their papers, the last student paperclips them and puts them right in my in bin.) I then have separate in bins for each class for students to turn in late work or absent work – anything that’s individual and not with the group piles. Finally, I have out bins for each class, and these are what save me the most time. Instead of standing in front of class wasting time passing out papers, I assign a student to pass them out for me. They simply go to the out bin, grab whatever’s in there, and start passing them out.
- Sample tests. I got this idea from The First Days of School, and I really think it’s a great idea. Post a sample test and/or quiz (one for each subject if possible) in your room so that students can get a basic idea of how you will be testing them. Of course this sample shouldn’t include the real test questions, but it should give them an idea of the length, style, etc. This can help allay the fears of students who experience anxiety over testing.
- Post your classes on the door. If you have a self-contained classroom, this is as simple as posting your name and the grade level you teach. But if you teach multiple groups/classes, posting them outside the door is extremely important because it helps students know that they are in the right place.
- Absent folders. Have some type of system for getting absent work to students. I give one student in each class the responsibility of recording what we do in class. (Click here to get a sample of the form I use.) This then goes in the absent folder so that returning students can easily see what they missed.
- Decor. If you enjoy decorating your room to the nines and you have time, then go for it. But if you’re getting overwhelmed (or it’s just not really in your wheelhouse), all you really need to do is create a warm learning environment for your students. The easiest way to do that is to simply put up motivational or instructional posters (like these) throughout your room.
- To-do lists. No, not for you – for your students. Post lists such as what they should do at the start of class and what they should do if they finish an assignment early.
- A place to post start-of-class assignments. If your’e wondering why a start-of-class assignment is so crucial, take a minute to read this post. But you also can’t forget about having a place to post it. You want to put it in the same place every day so that students know where to find it. (Oh and if you teach middle school math, you’re in luck. You can get a free set of bellringers here.)
- A place to post homework. Have a consistent place that students can find their homework assignments. I found it extremely effective to create a poster board for each class that included the class name and then had a spot for each day of the week. I would then laminate these boards and put them up along one wall. I could then use a wet-erase marker to write the week’s assignments and upcoming tests/quizzes. A spray bottle of water and paper towels easily cleaned them at the end of each week.
What other practical suggestions do you have for setting up a classroom?
Back to School Series
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