The back to school season is a daunting task! You may be moving to a new room, or have a vastly different number of students from year to year. It’s always hard to strike a balance between limited setup time and making your classroom a great-looking place to be. Setting up your classroom for a new school year can be a great opportunity to reflect on what worked well and what needed improvement in the previous year. Was your room messy or organized? Did you have good systems in place for turning in work and making transitions? Let’s take a look at some tips and tricks for your setup so that your classroom continues to run smoothly all year!

Organize Beforehand

Before you move into a new classroom, end the last year, or are a new teacher make sure to label everything such as boxes and drawers! Make an inventory of what you have and take it home with you. That way, when you are thinking through how you’d like to set up your classroom, you know what you have on hand already without having to riffle through boxes!

Enlist Help

We all know that teachers need a lot of supplies! If you are moving classrooms, enlist the help of your own children, friends, or teengers in need of service hours to help you carry boxes. If you have small children, try to find someone to babysit for a few hours so you can get parts of your setup done without tiny helpers underfoot. However, if you do need to bring your kids into the classroom while you are setting up, even small kids can help sharpen pencils, put books on shelves, or set out bins!

Gain Clarity

Think about how you want things to be set up prior to going into your classroom. Draw it out if necessary! Have an idea of how you want the desks arranged, what you want on your bulletin boards, and where you want your centers. Find some inspiration on teacher blogs or Pinterest. 

Label Everything

Make your life easier and label everything that you can! Cute binder covers like these can help keep your binders and papers organized. If students use binders for their work, these can also help them to be clearly labeled! 

In Your Student’s Shoes

As you are setting up your classroom, put yourself in your student’s shoes. Ask yourself the following questions: 

  • Do I know where to turn in work? 
  • Do I know where to get supplies? 
  • Do I know where to put my lunch and coat? 
  • Do I know what to do or where to go when I finish my work? 
  • Do I know where to line up? 

Although you will cover all of these questions as you ease into the school year, it’s important to have visuals around the room as reminders to the students as they move about the room. A big sign for the turn-in bin can remind students to turn in their work. Numbers on centers or stations can help students know in what direction to move when switching. Lines on the floor show students where to line up. Be sure to consider visuals when setting up your classroom!

Center and Group Work

Cooperative learning helps students learn better! Let students know what group they belong to with fun grouping techniques like these. Groups can be easily changed, and students will know immediately who they are working with. 

When you are setting up centers, make sure that all supplies are available and organized. For example, at a writing center, be sure there are pencils, correcting pens, graphic organizers, scratch paper, editing checklists, and final copy paper. This cuts down on time wasted trying to find supplies. Directions for each center should be clearly posted with words and pictures.

Supplies and More!

Sometimes students need supplies that are not their own. Be sure that supplies are accessible and clearly labeled. Books should be on shelves that students can reach, with spines facing out. Markers and crayons should be available in boxes or bins. It should also be clear to students where to put supplies back when they are done! 

With these simple tips, your classroom will be a well-oiled machine as you begin a new year!