There are so many different ways you can set up an effective classroom! You can focus on specific zones or areas of the room for various subjects such as having a dedicated art space, guided reading table, or a large area rug for circle time. There’s also lots to consider when it comes to student seating. Tables or desks? Groups for collaboration? Or rows to reduce distractions?
There are pros and cons to every classroom setup, no matter which you choose, so do what makes you happy and works best for you and your students! I’m going to share with you several things to consider when setting up your first classroom, as well as what I personally do in my primary classroom. 🙂
- Desks or Tables
There really is no right or wrong answer when it comes to choosing desks or tables for student seating. Some teachers prefer desks so students can store more of their own supplies, reduce distraction among peers, and just give students their own personal space. Other teachers prefer tables to encourage collaboration and team building and eliminate clutter in desks!
No matter which option you choose, mark off an area in your room that you want these to go. Worry about the layout of these after you have the other areas set up. While student seating seems like the most important thing to establish first, you sometimes change your mind after seeing what the rest of your classroom entails! 🙂
- Classroom Technology
If you’re brand new to your classroom and you have a blank slate, first find where your technology is located. Do you have a projector or screen you’ll need to plug into frequently? Do you have speakers and a smartboard? No matter where your technology is located, be sure to set up an area for yourself with access to plenty of outlets! If you have other technology to store for students, consider placing these things nearby your tech area to keep them safe.
- Student Supplies
You can choose to make students’ supplies communal, and store throughout the room in tubs and small containers, or personal, and store in individual desks. Doing a mixture of both is an option, too! This includes crayons, markers, colored pencils, scissors, glue, notebooks – everything you assign on your student supply list. Again, this is totally your preference. You may also want to consider asking your administrator what their protocol is due to Covid this school year.
Most classrooms have a specific area already created for backpacks such as a coat room or just simple hooks on the wall. If your classroom doesn’t have this area already set up, just decide where you would like to see your students’ leave their personal belongings. If you’re unsure, other teachers in your building may have good ideas. Be sure to check with your school fire marshal before hanging anything permanently!
- Classroom Library
Some teachers prefer to keep all of their books out and accessible to their students all year long. I prefer to keep around 50 at a time accessible, and rotate them out as my students read them. I like to store the books in tubs because it makes it much simpler to rotate them out every couple of weeks! None of my classroom library books are levelled, as they are my own personal collection. My school provides levelled books so my students are able to use those without having to store them in my classroom.
- Art Supplies
I have 2 cupboards for my art supplies and keep a specific table near the cupboards so my students have a distinct area to work on art activities. I find this helpful if students are working on different tasks. It’s less of a distraction if students working on art activities are in the art area. 🙂 Unfortunately this past year my art table needed to be used as another student desk due to Covid, but in other years I can use the art table as a means to work with kids one-on-one, too!
- Calm Down Area
If you’ve never had an established calm down area in your classroom before, I highly recommend giving them a try. I’ve established mine to be in a little nook by the door! If you don’t have much of a private area in your classroom, you can simply have an empty desk that the child can work on something at, or provide a box of materials for the students to choose from that will help them calm down. I recommend things like play-dough, silly putty, a band for stretching, paper and crayons – whatever gives the child a bit of a break to compose themselves.
- Student Assignments
Where will your students hand in their papers? What will that process look like? You’ll also need to consider where students will store their papers while they’re working on them – before and after marking.
- Teacher Workstation
Don’t forget about you! 🙂 You can set up your own teacher workstation at the front of the class with a separate area for your own desk, or a workstation right at your desk. You’ll definitely find you’ll want the extra workspace in addition to your actual desk. I use my workspace to teach whole class lessons, one-on-one lessons, guided reading, and other small group interaction. I also prefer to have my workstation right next to my technology so I can access my whiteboard and smartboard with ease.
My actual desk is used to keep my laptop, take attendance, mark papers, before and after school work, attend online meetings, and store my own teacher resources. I prefer to have this more “formal” area for myself when my students aren’t in the classroom.
- Decor and Other Considerations
Lighting is a very important piece to setting up your first classroom. Do you have fluorescent or LED lighting? You can buy covers for your fluorescent lighting on Amazon to soften them a bit. They even have prints and multi-colors to bring a little more fun to your room. Along with lighting, you can table lamps for specific areas of your room, or fairy lights are a nice touch, too!
Curtains are another item to consider for your room. What direction does your room face? If the sun will be streaming in all day, you may want to consider full-length curtains for your windows. There are tons of fun prints out there to choose from!
Some other considerations to think about are traffic flow and line-ups. Can the kids access the doors easily, or are they having to weave in and out of furniture to get there? Are rugs taped down so nobody trips? Are all electrical cords out of the way? It’s also imperative that you as the teacher are able to see all of your students at all times, including from your own desk or workstation.
Setting up your first classroom is so exciting! You’re the boss and get to set up your things as you please. 🙂 Finding what works best for your classroom can be a trial and error process. Don’t be afraid to move things around if you’re not happy with your first decision! Nothing has to be permanent.