How do you set up your new classroom?
Some teachers choose to set up their classroom before the end of term, some do it during the summer holiday and some leave it until the Autumn term starts.
Having your room ready is essential because this makes you ready and helps you avoid a lot of logistical problems. A well-organised and attractive room shows that you mean business and children will take pride in their environment.
Whenever you decide to do it, take a look at our tips for organising your classroom.
1. Check school policies
There is something very special about having your own classroom and you’ll want to make it your own but before jumping in, check school policies. Ask colleagues and senior leaders whether there is anything you need to be aware of. For example, there are probably clear fire safety considerations about hanging things from the ceiling or attaching notices to the door. Is it school policy to display objectives or create a newsboard?
2. Desk space
Where you decide to place desks is crucial as this will often dictate the mood and atmosphere of a class and directly impact on learning, engagement and enjoyment. Think carefully about the learning needs of your new class and where children will sit. Do you have any partially sighted learners? What about any children with hearing impairments? What behavioural issues do you need to consider? Who is left-handed? Is your own desk in the way? Is your own desk even necessary? Keep high-traffic areas of the class clear. Think about seating plans.
3. Think ‘Team’
Consider who else will be teaching in ‘your’ room. You might spend the majority of your working week in one classroom but there will be other adults to consider as they will be teaching in the space too. Leave them somewhere to store their resources and supplies as well as an area of wall space for them to display work they do with children. This might be your room but it is a shared learning space.
4. Special Learning Spaces
Think about having places within the class that are special areas for particular types of learning and experiences. You may decide to create an area that is a cosy corner that offers emotional safety for vulnerable children. This might be a concealed space with cushions, bean bags, comfy chairs or an informal reading area that invites children into a space they can read and relax. Whether you have a table turned into a ‘den’ or a specific learning zone, think about the space as a place to inspire, develop curiosity or to help children feel safe.
6. Promote equality and diversity
Aim to create a classroom environment where all children can thrive together and understand that individual characteristics make people unique and not ‘different’ in a negative way. Ensure that you know your children well before you start to decorate and display signs, notices and posters. What are the language needs in your class? Do you have a British Values board? Select books, posters and activities for children with appropriate images:
- images that accurately reflect people’s current daily lives in the United Kingdom, including home, work and recreation
- images of children and adults that represent all groups in the children’s community
- images of all the cultural groups across the UK and in the world
- images that show people of various cultural groups and ages engaged in both similar and different activities
- images that reflect diversity in gender roles
- images that show diversity in family styles and configurations
- images that depict diversity of abilities and body types
- images that counter stereotypes
7. Dyslexia friendly
Is your classroom dyslexia friendly? Think about the fonts you use when making notices (use Arial, Verdana, Tahoma). Some questions to consider include:
- Do your handouts have double line spacing and a line between paragraphs?
- Are they printed on pastel-coloured paper rather than white?
- Are numbers displayed in chunks? Is written information displayed using images, diagrams and bullet points? Are sources of equipment/resources are clearly labelled and organised?
- Are key words placed strategically around the classroom to support current topics
- Are desk top aids are available and their use encouraged?
For further ideas see Dyslexia Friendly Schools Good Practice Guide – Abridged Version
Have a dedicated and consistent wall space for key information that children need to access daily such as the date, timetables, class announcements, news, events, homework, menus, etc. If children know where to find it then there can be no excuses!
Fussy and busy rooms are too much to take in and children don’t learn as effectively. Try to avoid over-decorating and over-arranging so that children aren’t swallowed up by displays and feel claustrophobic. Remember, less is more.
Have a motivation board that focuses on inspirational and motivational messages that focus on positivity, achievement and resilience.
11. Choose a spot
Select a strategic location in the class that you will use for children that need to be isolated from everyone else. Make this a safe place to support any behavioural problems.
This is not really ‘your’ classroom remember and without realising it you can put too much of an imprint on the learning space if your forget that the children should have a say too! Ask children what they would like to see displayed in their classroom and what they would do. Take ideas, discuss and vote.
No, of course not! This is just the start and there is plenty more to consider such as time savers, organising materials, managing technology and rethinking your room at different times of the year but they are other blogs.