Setting up your classroom...

Discussion in 'Elementary Education' started by cocobean, Jun 27, 2016.

  1. cocobean

    cocobean Companion

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    Jun 27, 2016

    I just found out I'll get the keys to my classroom August 1st. Students come back August 10th.
    This will be my first classroom, so my question for you is: how long did/does it take you to set up your classroom from scratch? What's your process?
    Any tips and tricks would be greatly appreciated!
     
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  3. CharRMS

    CharRMS Companion

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    Jun 27, 2016

    I had about a week to set up my room last year (my first as well, but a middle school classroom), and it took me the whole week and more to set up my room before I felt like it was student ready. It was a crazy time, but awesome at the same time! :) I spent some time throughout the year moving some things (mostly bigger pieces of furniture) as I realized what really worked well in the room. My tips are to work on setting up the student desks and your desk first. Figure out how you want to arrange the bigger pieces in the room, and then everything else will sort of fall in to place. Plus, if you do all the big stuff first, the smaller things can be done over time. Also, set up your classroom management and expectations and some of those things will help you figure out how to set up the room.

    I personally situated my desk where I wanted it first and then arranged my student desks around the whiteboard/projector screen; they are in sideways rows (easy to move into groups when needed). I have my desk off to the side of the room out of the way.

    Congratulations on the job and good luck for the upcoming school year!
     
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  4. Leaborb192

    Leaborb192 Enthusiast

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    ,
     
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  5. RainStorm

    RainStorm Phenom

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    What grade?
     
  6. cocobean

    cocobean Companion

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    Third grade !
     
  7. otterpop

    otterpop Phenom

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    It usually takes me 2 or 3 class days. This will be my third year teaching, so I'm hoping it will go more quickly. I get easily distracted, so in reality, I think I could probably get everything done in a day if I really stayed focused. Stapling is what takes the longest! I also have a tendency to move desks around, look at them, and then move them into another arrangement. Not the best use of my time. :eek: However, our classrooms are super small and it's hard to find an arrangement that actually works.

    One tip I have it to not use butcher paper for your bulletin board! Use fabric, used sheets, or (the cheapest option), plastic table clothes from Dollar Tree. It helped speed up my process a lot. Butcher paper can be a pain in the neck, and it also fades! Also, Dollar Tree has some great deals, but I'd recommend not purchasing the bulletin board border there. It looks great, but it's short, which means you'll do double or triple the amount of stapling. If you go to a teacher store and pay $3-$4, it's longer and the package includes more border, so I think it's worth it.

    Finally, I totally recommend not buying too much until you know what you need! I bought a ton, and it wasn't at all what I actually needed. Take care of the basics and buy as you find a need for things. :)
     
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  8. mkbren88

    mkbren88 Cohort

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    I usually spend a week or so setting up my room. This year, I'll have only about 3 days to get it all set up before meet the teacher due to trainings. I'm not too worried because I know where everything will go and how I want to decorate already.
     
  9. TnKinder

    TnKinder Companion

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    Setting up a classroom is so much fun and so stressful al, at the same time. We can get our keys about a week before we officially ome back. I like to go in and set up my desk and student tables first. Then I set up center aresa, library, listening, and writing. Last I pull out the shelves and arrange material according to where. I use themail during the school year. I go in two days before I service week for about 4 hours each day. My P gives us about 2 1/2 days spread out over inservice week.

    Here's a tip. Don't put any pressure on yourself to make it perfect. This is your fist classroom and you will be tweaking things well into the school year to get things just right for you and your students.
     
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  10. YoungTeacherGuy

    YoungTeacherGuy Phenom

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    Jun 27, 2016

    This is what I would do each and every time I moved into a different classroom!
     
  11. YoungTeacherGuy

    YoungTeacherGuy Phenom

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    One piece of advice I'd like to give is to see if you can bring someone along with you to assist with bulletin boards! Buy 'em lunch for their time!
     
  12. yellowdaisies

    yellowdaisies Fanatic

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    It depends. Is the room empty, or is there a lot of stuff in there to begin with?

    I've moved into two completely empty classrooms (other than furniture) - one was a newly constructed campus, and one had never been used as a classroom. I'm moving into another empty room in a newly constructed campus again this year (I don't know how I've managed to do that twice in 4 years...2 different schools, though.)

    Anyway, starting from scratch with an empty classroom, I would say it realistically takes me a little over a week. But I typically do not spend a bunch of 8 hour days in there - my time is interspersed with other things like shopping a bit for last minute items I realize I need, creating things, planning for the beginning of the year, etc. Your time frame will be just fine. I like to go slowly because I want it to start out very organized so it's easier to maintain throughout the year. The library usually takes me a very long time if I'm reorganizing it, or when it was new and I was organizing it for the first time. I actually organized and labeled all the books at home and then brought them in when I was new and again when I changed grade levels from 1st to 5th.

    If it makes you feel any better, it does take me less time when I'm not starting from scratch (which has happened once in my 4 years of teaching), so it'll get better after this year if you stay at the same school (and especially in the same room).

    I agree with YTG's idea about bringing a friend - you really do NEED someone to help with bulletin boards. They are the worst. Bring a level, too, if you're planning on hanging anything and you'll be bothered by crooked things like I would be.

    I totally agree with TnKinder - do not expect it to be perfect! My first year I taught at a year round school and had 2.5 days to set up. I remember being completely stressed out, but it was totally fine. Just get the major things set up. You can always tweak and adjust later. Make sure not to fill all the walls - you want space for anchor charts and student work. Don't feel like your classroom has to look like one of those blogs with the model classrooms - it doesn't EVER have to look like that, and especially not when you're just starting out!

    Setting up your classroom is really so much fun. It's a lot of work, but I love it. :) Hopefully you will too!
     
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  13. RainStorm

    RainStorm Phenom

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    Third grade is a wonderful grade! First thing, find out from the principal or another grade level teacher if there are "required" bulletin boards to have up -- like daily math, word walls, calendar math, school mottoes -- stuff like that. Otherwise, you put up stuff, and then have to take it down and replace it with required stuff. (Can you tell that is from personal experience??? :) ) Second, make any thing you want for your bulletin boards in advance -- if you have a theme, cut out the letters, or punch them out, or whatever, ahead of time.

    Another thing about bulletin boards -- if you run out of time before the "meet the teacher" night, or the first day of school, just put up the paper and the border with a sign "Under Construction -- Excellent Student Work -- Coming Soon!" or something like that.

    Bulletin boards are not the most important thing, but as YTG said, bring a friend if you can to help you put up the paper or fabric -- it saves tons of time. The most important thing to me is the layout of the room. Get the texts, books, desks, in the place you think will work best for you, and set them up. Don't worry if you aren't sure -- desks can be moved if it doesn't work out. Don't obsess over it.

    I've been teaching for a while and can get a room set up in about 4 days (less if the bulletin boards are done). If you are new, it will probably take longer, but you know what? Get the desks in order, the "under construction" signs up if necessary, put student names on the desk (if you have the information in advance -- most schools have it in advance, but not all...) and don't sweat the small stuff.

    Best wishes,

    -Rain
     
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  14. yellowdaisies

    yellowdaisies Fanatic

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    This tip about the bulletin boards is SO important!!! I don't have required bulletin boards exactly, but my current school uses GLAD, which requires room for LOTS of anchor charts. That means teachers put up less student work. It's a school culture thing. Well, my previous school had basically wall papered with student work. I'll never forget having to tear down two bulletin boards that took FOREVER to make during the first month of school because I needed more room for my anchor charts...

    Yeah, don't make that mistake. Definitely ask about the walls.
     
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  15. cocobean

    cocobean Companion

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    Thanks for all the advice!!
    My room will be empty, and the principal has told me I can decorate/display work however I see fit.
    I've already recruited my husband and sisters to help set up bulletin boards and whatnot ;)
     
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  16. Leaborb192

    Leaborb192 Enthusiast

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  17. otterpop

    otterpop Phenom

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    I was also just reading something that said that an overdecorated room can overwhelm kids at the start of the year, and that empty shelves and walls can feel like a refreshing blank slate. As others have said, you can add student work as the year progresses.
     
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  18. Leaborb192

    Leaborb192 Enthusiast

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  19. Obadiah

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    A few tips I've learned over the years. I've used flannel material in a neutral color such as light blue to match any new borders or displays. The flannel material also held pictures that I might add during a lesson with a strip or two of flannel Scotch-taped to the back. The other advantage of flannel is that it lays against the board more neatly than lightweight paper and the holes don't show. I tried to leave one area of the room relatively blank and this was the wall where most of the students' attention would be directed from where they were sitting, so as to have a quieter and less stimulating background during lessons and seatwork, but I was careful not to over decorate the other walls. (In my room, my less decorated area was the chalkboard area, and not that it was totally blank, but before class I would write/draw what was needed for that day's lesson on the board. A tip here, thick colored sidewalk chalk from Wal-Mart was my favorite chalk). The best cleaning tools I've found are 1. Vinegar in an empty spray bottle from Dollar Tree to spray on chalk dust and to clean up messy science experiments (but caution: the smell lingers for a couple of hours) and 2. Food Lion's version of the hand wipes Wet Ones; they clean virtually any mess quickly, especially the inside of desks. They also quickly remove sticky stuff from objects and fingers.I was fortunate to find a spray nozzle that would screw onto a plastic vinegar bottle, and I could screw the vinegar bottle cap onto the spray bottle which I filled with water so that I could keep an interchangeable vinegar and a water spray in my cupboard. It's handy to have a roll of masking tape accessible to quickly clean up loose debris on the floor; wrap the tape around your hand a few times, sticky side out, and gently pat the debris to pick it up. If possible, explore the school's Closet of Forgotten Teacher Items; sometimes it's a treasure chest full of materials. Explore other teachers' rooms; that can give you a feel for the climate of the school's usual décor. If you are allowed, a quick way to assign texts is to give each student a number and then just write a number in each textbook. Don't make my mistake of stapling onto a plaster wall--at the end of the year it looked like the wall was attacked by flies with mini-machine guns! There's a putty-like stuff that teachers often use, but again, check with the school's policy, as even this putty can lighten the color of the paint. If you use masking tape, it helps to stick the tape on horizontally rather than vertically, which tends to unroll off the wall. I'd apply tape to the four corners and one in the middle of a chart. For sorting student papers, I had flat plastic shelf-like sorters that stacked onto each other on my desk, but the benefit of this idea will vary with class size and desk space. In my desk drawer, I used magnets (from pizza shop ads, etc.) Scotch taped to the back of containers--the best were from candy boxes or similar plastic trays with various shapes/sizes of indentations to hold small desk supplies such as scissors, staplers, pens and pencils. A plastic jar with a rim of magnetic tape inside is great for paper clips; I avoided glass containers--I think there's an unwritten rule in schools that if anything can fall and break, it will. Concerning time, hmmm, there's never enough time for me to get ready; but as the years progress, you will discover shortcuts. It's great you have help.
     
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  20. TamiJ

    TamiJ Virtuoso

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    I'm usually in there a good week and a half before school starts, but it takes a day or two to actually set up. This does not count the more tedious work of cleaning materials, and reorganizing things, just the physical layout and set up.
     
  21. mathmagic

    mathmagic Enthusiast

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    I'll always remember my first week: I got the job the Friday before our "prep week" (staff meetings, meet and greet, etc..), had to move that weekend, got down already emotional, and then had an empty room I had to put together from scratch on Monday. I broke down almost daily that week, especially given that my creativity in terms of "setting up"/decorating isn't quite as amazing as most others. My absolutely wonderful principal noticed that, and walked me through a variety of other classrooms in the school, showing the wide variety. In that, she said, similarly to others have said here, that too many posters/pre-formed anchor charts, etc..., often times she finds can be distracting for kids because of too much sensory input. I know I need to work on utilizing bulletin boards a bit more, and create some more anchor charts together, but I've received extremely strong/positive evaluations in my first two years in terms of the classroom environment.

    Focus on what's vital to your classroom management and to making it feel like their classroom. Many of the decorations, artwork, posters, will be added over the course of the first few weeks. If you have too much set up, it'll feel more like your classroom.
     
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  22. otterpop

    otterpop Phenom

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    That's a great anecdote. The first year of teaching is very stressful. It's nice your principal was so understanding. :)
     
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  23. Pashtun

    Pashtun Fanatic

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    I would first figure out your classroom "philosophy", what "structures" are the most important to you that will influence student learning. Then make sure that everything on your walls fits with those things you identified.
     
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