If you’re a first year teacher, you might have a lot of questions about how to set up a classroom. But the truth is, teachers have to switch classrooms all the time. So it’s always useful even seasoned teachers to have a game plan for classroom set up. I’ve had to switch classrooms quite a few times, so I’ve been able to practice my process and come up with the best way to set up a classroom.
Read on for the 7 steps of how to set up a classroom!
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How To Set Up A Classroom
Setting up a classroom from scratch is a HUGE job, and it can be hard to know where to start. I remember feeling so overwhelmed during classroom set up week, so I knew I needed to create a system for myself. Breaking things down into steps has been unbelievably helpful. Following these steps will help keep you organized and on track in the process of classroom set up.
Here are my 7 steps for How To Set Up A Classroom:
- Zones of storage
- Wall displays
- Classroom bins
- Put it together
- Teach it
Step 1: Decide Your Classroom Layout
The first step to classroom setup is definitely deciding on a layout. There are lots of ways to configure a classroom, and these decisions really depend on the size of your classroom and which grade/subject you teach.
Here is an example of my classroom layout:
Some important questions to ask yourself while deciding on a layout:
- Do I have student desks or student tables? What formation of these would be best for learning?
- Where will my classroom library go?
- Do I want a large rug for group lessons?
- Where will my teacher desk go?
- Do I want a small group area in the classroom?
- Are there other special areas I want? For example, a calm corner, a place for tech storage, a spot for group work, flexible seating areas, etc.
If you’re having doubts, don’t stress too much. You can always shift things around if they’re not working. Just commit to something as a starting point, and move everything into place. Then give yourself permission to shift when needed.
Step 2: Create Zones of Storage
Classroom storage is a big step in how to set up a classroom. It’s important to think through the types of storage you will need so you can allocate your cabinet and shelf space wisely.
Some areas to think about planning for:
- Student materials
- Student backpacks and lunches
- Arts and crafts supplies
- Center works
- Teacher storage for items not currently being used
- Office supplies
- Curriculum storage
- Classroom library
Here’s a little video showing how I allocated my storage space in my classroom:
Step 3: Plan Your Wall Displays
Next up, it’s time to think about your bulletin boards, whiteboard, and any other displays you want the walls. Many classrooms come with some built in bulletin boards and a whiteboard, but you can easily add more wall display areas to fill empty wall space or cabinet doors.
Think about what you want displayed (at least for the beginning of the year, as you will probably switch out these spaces as the year goes on).
My list of wall displays includes:
- Sound and alphabet posters
- Sight word wall
- Themed bulletin board (for whatever season or theme we are studying)
- Positive reinforcement board (you can check that out here)
- Student work display
- Math fluency display (you can check that out here)
This is honestly such a fun step, so let yourself enjoy it! Be creative and start thinking about the décor your might want.
Step 4: Find Your Classroom Bins and Baskets
Okay, so we know it takes a lot of baskets and bins to make a classroom. But how do we decide which ones we need to buy? Once again, I like to break it down into smaller pieces.
Think about what kind of bins or baskets you’ll need for the following:
- Books for classroom library
- Student materials
- Art supplies
- Centers – both when they’re available for students and when they’re being stored
- Storage for materials that aren’t currently being used
- Office supplies
- Teacher supplies
Here are some of my favorite practical bins for these things:
Step 5: Put It All Together
This step is really just about getting to work. You’ve done your planning, now you need to get to it! Your to do list might look something like this:
- Move furniture into correct spaces to match your layout
- Organize your books into your book bins
- Get student materials ready to go in their containers
- Fill up baskets with materials, label them, and put them on shelves
- Put up your bulletin boards and wall displays
Step 6: Time To Decorate!
It’s hard to save this for last, but when time gets crunchy, you’ll be glad you got the important stuff out of the way first.
Once you have those important first classroom set up steps finished, then you get to have fun! Think about what other classroom décor you want (you probably already started thinking about this with your bulletin boards and displays). Maybe there’s an empty corner you want to spruce up, or maybe you want some fun tassels for your teacher desk. Or maybe you want to add some fun pillows to your classroom library. The possibilities are endless!
Go area by area and use Pinterest and Instagram for inspiration – there are endless examples of cute classrooms once you start looking!
Step 7: Teach Your Students About Their Classroom
I guess this step is technically extra, since your classroom will be fully completed without doing this one. BUT… I wouldn’t skip it!
A lot of teachers don’t spend the time needed to teach their students about their new classrooms. Students need time to adjust to their new environment. Plus, we want them to be invested in keeping their classroom beautiful and respecting the materials inside of it.
Start thinking now about the routines and procedures you want your students to use in their new room. Think of fun ways students can familiarize themselves with the classroom layout and storage. Plan time to teach and practice routines and procedures.
Best Way To Set Up a Classroom
Now, these tips I shared with you are my best practices for setting up a classroom. But in truth, it’s a very personal process. It will look different for everyone. These steps can be guide posts for you as you discover what works best for you. Let yourself be flexible in your setup process.
But anytime you start to feel overwhelmed, you can return to these steps and they’ll help you get back on track.
What part of classroom setup are you feeling nervous about? Let me know in the comments! xoxo Laura