Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Prioritize your Elementary Classroom Set-Up

If you have ever found yourself standing in the middle of your classroom during the summer wondering "Where do I start with the set-up process?" then I have some steps for you to follow.  In my opinion, planning your year-long curriculum and lessons is of the utmost importance, but that can be done at home in most cases.

 If you are IN your classroom and needing to transform it from bare or messy to organized and functional, there are some steps to take to ensure you are efficient and making great decisions!

It is important that you decide on a personal classroom budget and stick to it.  Most teachers do not have a large budget supplied by the school (if you even get any money at all!) so the money you do spend needs to really be planned out.  If you are spending your own money like so many of us, it is really important that you stick to a budget that works for you and your family.  

As tempting as it is to dive into decorating and creating a comfortable and inviting space for you and your students, it is a good idea to de-clutter  and create empty spaces on walls and surfaces first.  I like to think of it as making a clean canvas upon which you can build your classroom environment in a meaningful way.  Then you can focus on organizing the things you already have.  That might include organizing your teaching supplies, craft supplies, books, resources, and manipulatives. Do all of this BEFORE allowing yourself to work on any crafty or decorative projects that could potentially take up a lot of time...and that you might not even have adequate space to showcase!

Once you have created space in your room or purged extra materials that you won't need anymore, it's time to arrange your furniture.  I highly recommend sketching out your plan ahead of time so that you don't have to move heavy furniture more than absolutely necessary.  Create spaces for a library, for a whole group meeting area, work areas for students, and a small group area among others.  

I know that planning your first week isn't technically part of setting up your room, but I think that's it's imperative to add it into the setting up process.  I've been guilty of getting so caught up in classroom design and decor that I haven't spent adequate time getting my first week of school activities organized.  Then, the summer disappears and I'm left scrambling.  As I've gained more experience (and set up many classrooms) I've learned that before allowing myself to do any fun decorating, I have to ensure that I've planned out my first week.  My tip for you is to plan it, print it, and keep masters in a binder or file folder labeled "First Week of School."  I even put page protectors into my binder and slip in game cards and paperback story books that I definitely want to use.  If you need some first week of school activities, you can see what I use here.  Now that I've set it up, I just pull it out at the end of each school year and put it in an accessible place for back to school!

Remember how I suggested that you leave some empty spaces on the wall and surfaces?  Surprise!  This is not the time to fill them all up!  Set up your wall space with the "must haves" first.  Maybe you need a calendar or a focus wall or word wall. Maybe you want to set up an area for the anchor charts you will create with your students.  Work on those.  Next, choose a few areas in the room that you would like to decorate.  Maybe you want a "Welcome" banner or a grade-specific saying, or a motivational poster or two.  Put those up.  

Also use this time to create or put up a few additional items that bring you joy or you know the students will really love looking at.  In my opinion, moderation is key.  For me, I've used my crafting time to make tissue paper poufs that brightened the space and brought some joy and cheer into the room.  Other times I have created a tree or a banner to make the space unique.  

However, in all of your creative and Pinterest-inspired projects, remember moderation.  Not only will you save yourself time (and money) but you will be creating a space that you and your students can decorate TOGETHER.   You will want to leave room for the students' artwork, the students learning evidence, and charts and posters that you all create as a class and individually.  

All that being said, we spend a lot of time in our classrooms, so don't feel guilty about investing some energy into making your space one that YOU love, however that may look!  Have fun!

I hope you are able to take these tips and tweak them for your needs!  If you are looking for any back to school resources to make your prep a bit easier, you can take a look at my "Back to School" section here: 

No comments:

Post a Comment