How Long Does it Take to Set Up a Classroom?

Discussion in 'Elementary Education' started by raynepoe, Jul 6, 2013.

  1. raynepoe

    raynepoe Companion

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    Jul 6, 2013

    I recently accepted a position teaching 5th grade about an ninety minutes away, I am not sure I will be able to spend on time setting up over the summer.

    School starts the 2nd week of August and new teachers go in the end of July for orientation. We are going to move to the city where I will be working and I have to get a new car (I have a clunker that doesn't make it more than 15 miles without poofing out) so I really don't think I will be able to get there in time before orientation.

    I am wondering how long it takes to get settled in a new room/school? I have taught 5 years in a preschool setting and it usually takes me a week to get bulletin boards/centers/labeling done is that about equivalent? Do schools usually do a lot of PD and staff meetings when everyone goes back? Does anyone have any prioritizing tips for me? I am very nervous. :help:
     
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  3. bella84

    bella84 Aficionado

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    At both of my schools, we had PD and meetings before school started. However, we were also given some minimal time to work in our rooms. It wasn't enough, but it was better than nothing. I plan to go in a few days before all the meetings begin this year to get a few things done. Since it doesn't sound like you can do that, I'd just recommend being prepared to spend some evenings there setting up. It sounds like you have the right idea about what is involved from your preschool classroom. Just be sure to ask your principal how late you are allowed to stay and pack a few snacks or a meal in your bag.
     
  4. swansong1

    swansong1 Virtuoso

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    In addition, don't feel that you have to get the room completely decorated before school starts. The children can help when they arrive.
     
  5. giraffe326

    giraffe326 Virtuoso

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    Do as much prep as you can ahead of time. Have things separated and in Ziploc bags. This will allow you to get things done much more quickly.
    If I am focused, and I prep ahead of time, I could decorate in a full day. I'm rarely focused for more than two or three hours though :p
    When I've been in a time crunch, and I have been a few times, I try to get the visual aspect done as much as I can. I worry about organizing later.
    I agree with Bella- plan on long days and it is doable!
     
  6. sevenplus

    sevenplus Connoisseur

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    Jul 6, 2013

    For me it takes as much time as I allow it. If I have 2 weeks, that's how long it takes. If I have 2 days, that's how long it takes. You do learn to prioritize.

    My very first teaching job I had 2 days. I had zero resources but made it functional. Over winter break that year I revamped everything.

    I find it's easy to get caught up on planning the classroom and forget about planning curriculum, so do both in tandem. Think about your curriculum and the routines you want to establish.

    There is a lot of planning you can do from home, but it helps if you have an idea of the physical layout of the space and the furniture and materials you will have. You can have a general plan of how you will arrange the furniture. Think about traffic flow, teaching spaces, how/where students will be seated, etc. How will your classroom library be organized/displayed?
     
  7. gottateachtx

    gottateachtx Rookie

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    Sevenplus is so right - your curriculum, routines, and classroom management are your priorities. You can start the year with some bare walls - put up some "Under Construction" signs - the children won't mind a bit, especially when they know that their products (art work, good papers, etc.) will go up in those spots. You are the one who makes them feel comfortable and welcomed, not your walls or bulletin boards!
     
  8. RainStorm

    RainStorm Phenom

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    :agreed:
     
  9. Caesar753

    Caesar753 Multitudinous

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    Yes!

    I teach high school, so my advice might not matter much. Our work days before the students come back are always packed with PD. We rarely get any time in our classrooms at all. We're lucky if we can get an hour or two in total. I would suggest that you not count on any time in your room, but be grateful if you get it. If it's important to have certain things set up before the first day, plan to do them in the afternoons, maybe staying an extra hour or two during your work days.

    I think it's best to make a list of what needs to be set up. I keep a running list on my whiteboard and just cross off or add to it as necessary. Prioritize the things on your list: What needs to be done immediately, before students arrive? What can wait for student helpers? What can be finished quickly (in under 15 minutes)? What can be done at home? What is going to require special tools/assistance?

    Good luck!
     
  10. MrsC

    MrsC Multitudinous

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    You've gotten good advice; focus on what you can prepare at home to get the school year off to a good start. We are moving to a brand new building in September. At this point, it looks as though we may get occupancy on the Wednesday or Thursday before school starts. We'll be definitely starting with relatively bare classrooms, as bulletin boards may not be up yet and we won't be allowed to fasten anything to the walls.
     
  11. raynepoe

    raynepoe Companion

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    Thanks for all the responses.

    I am going to keep calm, stay evenings, and remind myself that it is most important to have good things to do in the classroom and resist the urge to over decorate my classroom (that will be done over winter break).
     
  12. Proud2BATeacher

    Proud2BATeacher Phenom

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    It takes me forever and a day.
     
  13. teacherintexas

    teacherintexas Maven

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    It depends on the shape the room was left in. My last room was a retiree and I think she just picked up her purse and left.

    It took a week to organize that stuff and another three days to fit my stuff in the remaining space.
     
  14. yellowdaisies

    yellowdaisies Fanatic

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    Jul 6, 2013

    THIS.

    Last year was my first year, and I taught at a multitrack year round school. I had to set up my room 5 times during the course of the year. From cabinet chaos. In the beginning of the year, it was from scratch. That time took a little longer. Our school is only open limited hours on the weekends, so sometimes I had a total of 10 hours (over more than one day) to set up, but usually less. And guess what? It was perfectly fine. My husband came and helped me. I got my borders up, my library all set up in baskets, my posters/charts up, and my desk stuff all together. I wasn't always TOTALLY ready, but within a couple afternoons after school, I was. I fill up my walls with almost entirely student work, so my boards will be bare the first day of school anyway.

    So don't stress, honestly. If you work smart and hard, you can get it done in much less time than you think. Especially if you can find some help! :)
     
  15. YoungTeacherGuy

    YoungTeacherGuy Phenom

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    Hmmmm...maybe I'm in the minority here.

    Something I make sure to do is have butcher paper and border on every single wall. I enjoy seeing the kids and parents enter the classroom and noticing the bright, inviting, and put-together space.

    As the year progresses, however, the bulletin boards get full of student work. Other than having the butcher paper and border on the walls, there isn't much to display on the first day of school (my calendar wall is fully intact on day one, though).

    I generally allow myself about 5 half-days to set up. It seems like 5 half-days leave me less stressed than 2 full days.

    The thing that frustrates me is when I have to change schools or classrooms and the previous teacher left all his/her junk for me to sort through. I usually end up tossing it all (except for a few goodies I may find).
     
  16. DrivingPigeon

    DrivingPigeon Phenom

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    It takes me a long time, but I like to make sure things look really pretty. :D
     
  17. waterfall

    waterfall Virtuoso

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    Like YTG said I make sure their is paper and boarders on the bulletin boards but I don't have most things up yet because it's mostly student work or things that we create together that I put on the walls. After that I basically just have to put the desks where I want them and organize my supplies. It takes me two days if I'm working continuously- longer if I'm off socializing with the other teachers or being indecisive/constantly moving furniture around.

    Last time when I was in sped I made a binder for each student with divider tabs for each of their progress monitoring areas, notes, data charts, work samples, IEP, and parent contacts. Then I printed out enough probes for their progress monitoring and put them in the appropriate places in their binder so on progress monitoring days I just had to pull out their binder. It took FOREVER to set up but saved me tons of time during the year. That task was a lot longer than setting up the room! I'll do something similar this year but since it's a new job it probably won't be before school starts. I'll need to figure out what systems they use and how they do progress monitoring/data collection before I create them so I don't have to go back and redo things.
     
  18. Curiouscat

    Curiouscat Comrade

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    Jul 6, 2013

    Depends on how many other people are in the building. Lots of people leads to lots of talking which leads to no work getting accomplished.
     
  19. Ms.Jasztal

    Ms.Jasztal Maven

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    I usually take 2 weeks before I have to come back for preschool, though I am sure someone could easily take a whole week beforehand as well. It depends on how organized your materials are, too...... and that's why I take at least 2 weeks. LOL. :)
     
  20. readingrules12

    readingrules12 Aficionado

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    It took me about double (possibly triple) the number of hours my first year then it does now. Therefore, if this is your first year setting up a classroom, I would multiply by two or three the number of hours that it takes most teachers. Since it takes many experienced K-8 teachers nearly 10 hours, I'd give yourself 20-30 hours...just in case you need it.
     
  21. EiffelTower

    EiffelTower Comrade

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    I'm too much of a perfectionist so it probably takes me a good 1-2 weeks of having everything ready to go as I like it. Plus, it depends on if I'm staying in the same classroom.

    One suggestion I have is to find out if your school has any sort of Meet the Teacher Night prior to school starting because that may focus you on what things need to be done since you will have families visiting and you want to make a good first impression.
     
  22. thirdgradebuzz

    thirdgradebuzz Comrade

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    Thankfully, my bulletin boards don't have to be taken down, just covered over the summer. So, my bulletin boards for fall are done when I leave in May. Wall decorations stay up, too.

    I went in one day last week to plan for summer school, and afterwards I spent four hours and put everything back in place.
    I have a short list of things I want to do after summer school one afternoon (get computer hooked back up, re-arrange a few things, etc.). I will be able to take care of that in a couple hours, tops.
     
  23. iteachbx

    iteachbx Enthusiast

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    I'll join this minority. In my school it wouldn't be acceptable to start with the room unfinished. It wouldn't look good for a first year teacher either. Not saying this to scare you, just saying different places have different expectations. I don't have the bulletin boards filled up because my school prefers very little teacher made decorations and mostly student work/anchor charts. However everything is ready to go. Last year I put some of their writing work up as early as the first day of school.

    But if you're going there for orientation, that's when I'd do my setting up. Even if they don't give you much time during the actual orientation, ask how late the building is open and take advantage of the days you're already there to get your setting up done. Going in prepared is definitely good advice. I had everything purchased before I even got to see my classroom my first year. Yes I had a surplus of borders and bulletin board paper because I overestimated how much I needed, but I just saved everything I didn't use for my second year.
     
  24. AdamnJakesMommy

    AdamnJakesMommy Habitué

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    I was an intern last fall and came in while teachers were setting up their rooms. It usually took them at least one full day, sometimes as much as 2 or 3 days. When I started my position in January at the same school, I had to set up my room with my kids in there. I just had them help me and was able to do it with their help in one full day. So, I think it will take me 2-3 days this fall. Prioritize and use whatever time you have available. Leave the odds and ends, things that are more organizational to the last bit of time and make sure the room looks as done as possible if you are in a time crunch.

    The fact that I'll be 9 months pregnant and due any day when I start setting up means I might go into labor during the process!
     
  25. PinkCupcake

    PinkCupcake Cohort

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    I'm the same way. I get super excited about setting up my classroom!
     
  26. Rabbitt

    Rabbitt Connoisseur

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    Our rooms are left with everything in one corner. I usually go in for a half day and push everything into it's spot.

    Then I work from home for hours on everything from schedules, to washing curtains, to making name plates, to lesson plan template, SMARTBoard pages, etc.

    Then I go to school for another half day and hang door display, nameplates, ceiling names, curtains, etc. I cloth and frame my bulletin boards but most remain bare for kids to fill. They look crisp and new. I take lots home and work on it there again.

    I go in for another half day distributing workbooks, school supplies, Daily 5 book totes, copying handwriting books, copying daily math books, making 1-3 weeks of copies, Daily 5 pensieve, etc.

    I always stay away a week before school begins. I try to do nothing but sleep, read, walk, etc. That gives me a sense of another vacation.
     
  27. thirdgradebuzz

    thirdgradebuzz Comrade

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    Summer school started today. One of my coworkers gave me a computer desk she was getting rid of-- I had been using a student desk that was a little too short for me all these years.

    I also got a nicer teacher desk this year from another coworker getting rid of hers. Score! I don't sit at it very much besides during planning, but I like to lay out materials for the day on it each morning.
     
  28. LMichele

    LMichele Cohort

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    As a first year teacher last year, it took me a few half days to set up my reading room, which is smaller than a classroom. The organization took the longest, I didn't want to be fumbling around looking for things when school started and I had students. Next came the decorating which took a day. I wanted the parents & kids to feel welcome when they passed by my room, knowing that I was knew and they had no idea who I was.
     
  29. alioxenfree

    alioxenfree Rookie

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    I come in for 1-2 days before we're due back. I plan everything I want to do and prepare as much as I can over the summer at home. I then recruit 2-3 detail-oriented friends/family members to help me for one day and I delegate :D. I provide each one of them with a checklist and instructions and we get a whole lot accomplished. I usually come back the next day to finish up some things.

    We have one contract day before the students start, but it's taken up mostly with meetings. I usually stay a little late that day because there's always something else to do.

    Some teachers at my school come in throughout the summer and most come in at least two weeks before school starts. I'm always the last one to drag myself in, because once I do, it means my summer is officially over :eek:.

    Prioritizing is key as many have mentioned, but you already mentioned one of the most important things- staying calm!

    Don't worry, everything's going to turn out fine. (Oh my, I sound just like my mother :love:)
     
  30. TamiJ

    TamiJ Virtuoso

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    I need a minimun of a week to just get the bare minimum things done.
     
  31. kpa1b2

    kpa1b2 Aficionado

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    Too long. . .but like someone else said if I only have X amount of time, then that's how long it takes.

    For me, it's the organization that takes the time. The "decorations" not so long.
     
  32. FourSquare

    FourSquare Fanatic

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    At least a week. More when I was in primary.

    This year I experimented with having the kids do 90% of the work in June for the upcoming year. (I'm looping.) I was actually really impressed. :lol: They did all the paper, borders, re-organized the library, cleaned out some drawers, etc. I will not have nearly as much to do as I did last year.
     
  33. txmomteacher2

    txmomteacher2 Enthusiast

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    Since we are allowed to come and go all summer, except for the week that they are waxing the floors I go in a lot. Not for very long, maybe a couple of hours a week.. This year I am moving to a new grade so I have put in a few more hours. The next three weeks though I am busy with other things so I won't go in at all. I have done a few things at home.
     
  34. Upsadaisy

    Upsadaisy Moderator

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    It took me forever. I started with a huge mess of all the new stuff I had bought piled in the center of the room. Organizing and reorganizing resources to work efficiently in a small room was a challenge. I always took more than a week.
     

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