The Classroom Setup
One area of teaching that is quite difficult to prepare for is knowing how to setup and collect resources for your classroom.
What resources do you need? How do you obtain them? What sort of a budget is the norm?
One thing is certain. I have noticed as I have been doing relief teaching work that classrooms are very reflective of their teachers.
Some classrooms are so organised and clean that it is hard to believe children actually use the room. Conversely, some classroms are so filthy and messy that it is hard to perceive how children are able to learn at all under such conditions.
Are there rules in most schools for this type of situation? Do principals and school boards monitor teachers and their classrooms?
What is the standard?
The purpose of this page is to share our ideas and reasons for setting up a classroom in any given manner.
I have spoken with many teachers already who strongly feel that the placement and set up of the desk for students is of paramount importance.
Even as a student teacher it was stressed that the way in which a teacher sets up the desks in a classroom is reflective of their teaching style.
For instance, a classroom that is setup in a traditional manner, ie. rows of straights desk facing the front, is often used by teachers who choose to use direct instruction as their main teaching strategy.
What about putting tables in groups – are there advantages and disadvantages?
It is always a good idea to note how any classroom is setup and to adapt ideas, run with trial systems and attempt to reach a balance that you find is workable and suitable to you and your class needs.
Below are just some of the ideas that I have listed as I have been student teaching and doing temporary relief teaching in many different classroom settings -
* How will the children name their drawers/lockers? Will you do it or set it as a task specifically for the children? [Be aware of permanent markers - don't forget, this is for one year only.]
# Make your room attractive even before children enter by putting up some posters and any other display material you have. You can always take it down once you have students’ work to display.
# I have noticed that many classrooms have old bookcases/cabinets/desk that look as if they are ready for the rubbish heap. Sometimes they can be utilised to house class libraries or even as learning centres. (I must admit this is an area that will test me because I can envisage myself taking in half of my home if I am not careful)
# You will need a file cabinet/s. An absolute must for keeping all your important files and loose pieces of paper.
# Have you checked your class list if it is available? Do you have any special needs to cater for?
# My mentor suggested to me that a good way to have your room clean and bright for the first day of school is to contact some of the parents and arrange a working bee in the week prior to school beginning. It makes light work of cleaning those large classroom windows and gives you and the parents an early opportunity of meeting one another.
# Work out a long term strategy for how you will distirbute pencils, books, rulers and other stationary to the students. It seems that in most instances, once the budget is used, children will need to then provide their own books and writing tools.
# Writing an opening letter to parents when introducing yourself, also allows an opportunity for you to mention such factors as book and stationary provision and how it will work over the coming year.
# Do you know all the fire drill/saftey procedures? Do you have diagrams and posters detailing these procedures in the classroom. Do NOT forget this.
# Plan any folder or portfolio systems and allow an area for these and all books to be kept.
# Music in your room? Some teachers use this continual
ly – some do not like it at all. Make plans for this if you feel that it is something you will want.
# Resources in your class from the library. It has been said to me repeatedly at schools that you need to be quick at the beginning of the year if you want any of the “good” resources for your room. I imagine every school has different methods and I would hope that a friendly and amiable approach would allow for ALL to share evenly. Having siad that – DO NOT MISS OUT!
# What do you know your room will have in the way of computers, sporting equipment, art tools? Have you thought of areas to keep these items? How will you monitor their use?
# Students’ stationary – how will you expect them to be covered/named/looked after? Can the students’ write on the covers? Will you allow ANY pictures and photos to be glued on books? Believe me, some children will test your limit continually in this area.
# What about the children’s locker area. Is it secure? Will you allow bags in a classroom – if so, where will they go?
# Drinks and food in the classroom?
# How will you make backgrounds for some of those old, dilapidated display boards? well here are a few options. You can paint them, or cover them with old material. You can even use newspaper as a backing – it’s cheap and can look very effective in some instances. One other option is to use alfoil but it is not cheap.
# It is a good idea to involve parents in all of this process. Ask for old (useful) materials from home to be saved for class.
# Tissues – will you buy them or will you set up a class system for this type of situation?
# Have you thought about your own set of rules? Will you allow children to take things from your desk – if not how will you enforce this rule?
# Many of the behaviour management ideas are mentioned in the Management section, however, make sure that you know in your own mind what you see as non-negotiable, ie, your desk space, your personal belongings. Some items and areas need to be set out from the start as YOUR areas and not for the children. If you do not do this your sanity will be tested!
Previous comments from Teacher Education v1.3
Submitted by: Natasha Pouw-Bray
Location: Adelaide Australia
I always try to monitor students borrowing from other students. You would not BELIEVE how many arguments this causes and how much time is wasted trying to sort this out.
Teaching responsibility for their own belongings and respect for others is important. If the students are unprepared and need items such as a pen or ruler etc., it is often a good idea to have a supply of these out the front of the class for those who need them.
Unpreparedness is not to be encouraged but sometimes it cannot be avoided. A good method here is to have the student write their name and what they borrowed on the board/paper out the front, and erase it when the item is returned (it keeps them accountable).
Submitted by: Debbie Ingle
Location: Georgia, U.S.A.
I am a first year teacher, and I have spent most of my year learning strategies for organization. I have learned the hard way that organization is the key to my own good teaching. One thing I have had success with is a student filing system. I bought several crates that hold hanging files. In them I placed one hanging file and one file folder for each of my students. Each class has its own color, too. I know that all the blue folders are 5th grade reading and all of the orange ones math, etc. I have students turn any work in to the folders. That way, I don’t have stacks of papers laying all around my desk. When I need to take a grade, I just go to the crate and look through the folders. It also helps me keep track of how individual students are doing.
Submitted by: Aido
I am helping to set up a classroom to run spec
ial class for a group of 4 autistic children at age 4. I just acquired a room adjacent to a youth centre. I hope we can start the class by Sept 2000. Where do I start? Please advise.
Submitted by: Will Gilligan
Location: New Zealand
I am now in my fourth year of teaching. A simple thing that I have found invaluable to me is keeping a grid of the pupils names with, say, 20 small boxes next to each name. It is a simple matter to quickly head up a new column with, for example, spelling ex. 2/4/00 and then using this as a check list to ensure that each child has handed in his/her work. I know this may sound a little basic, but when you are trying to keep track of many things throughout the day, the good old check list is a real help. I am looking for some ideas on using learning centres in the classroom – any links?
Submitted by: Tiffany
I designate one color pen/folder for each subject. It helps me to keep each subject area separate and filing papers is easy!
Submitted by: Anissa Jones
Location: Canberra Australia
I am in my final year of Ba.Ed(Primary) and have had all my classes seated in groups, which was convenient to the classroom teacher. I noticed that at times it does work for discussions of classwork etc but not for social lives. Many students had to be moved to another group because of distruptive behaviours even after a full class agreement in regards to this seating arrangement. I must add this was in both Kindergarten and Year 5. I personally like small groups or lines because the children are more focused on the task than what they are doing at lunch time.
All my prac teachers had files and grids which worked great and I will be using them when I get my own class. It is important to be organised. It is drilled into first year teaching students (at my University) from day one.
Keep up the good work!
Submitted by: Rose Ofsoske
Location: New Zealand
What I advise teachers to do is make easy resourses that can be laminated and re-used year after year. It doesn’t take long to type up headings on coloured paper to stick on your walls and its nicer for the children to look at. I often go into classroom and teachers have just hand written signs and labels, bearly readable! Not only don’t they last but they also look tacky. Teachers, make your classroom inviting and pleasant to look at. If you want the children to present beautiful work, set your classroom up like it!
Submitted by: Alecia
Location: New Zealand
This is my first year out after 3 years of uni. At the moment I am completing my fourth year, so I am casual teaching to get some experience and ideas from other teachers out there.
Submitted by: JoAnna N
Location: Tennessee USA
One trick I learned that has helped me with substitute teachers. I have several index cards that are held together with a small ring. On the index cards, I have written how I handle certain situations that arise in my classroom. From scheduled bathroom breaks, to the daily schedule, to time fillers. My substitutes love this idea. Best of all, I only had to write the information down one time.
Submitted by: Glenna Combs
Location: Kentucky USA
Help I am a first year teacher trying to set-up an autistic classroom of three seven and eight year olds! I need ideas for walls and teaching strategies.
Submitted by: Tobias
Location: Western Australia
I’d like to know about teaching as a career and all the skills and qualifications needed. How a te
acher has to behave and teach.
Submitted by: Fred Martin
I’d like to recommend an extremely valuable resource for all teachers.
It’s a piece of software called Toolbox, and it creates a variety of puzzles and other worksheets instantly. It’s a shareware thing that you download and use free, then if you like it you pay, but it’s not expensive.
The website is www.discoveryeducationalsoftware.com
Submitted by: Nancy George
Location: Nelson House, Manitoba, Canada
Seven years experience, with some breaks due to medical reasons (actually a car accident made the break rather extended). this is my first year back after a 2 1/2 year absence from the classroom… Grade one class I am teaching were trying to adjust from 1/2 day to a full day of school. They enjoyed singing, in fact some of the repeaters did also. To get things accomplished, singing set the tone. Lights out – heads down, rest, listen for instructions. Good cool down time for some of the more active ones. The above is just some small contribution to your list.
I want to thank you for some reinforcements that I have found.
Submitted by: Clarissa Stewart
Location: Melbourne, Victoria AUS
I myself am interested in becoming a pre-school teacher. If any one can help with information and/or courses – that would be fantastic. You see, I have two small children of my own so I wondering if there is any way of part time study or anything along those lines.
I really hope to hear from some-one.
Submitted by: Denise O’Mara
Location: Central Queensland, Australia
As a reading recovery/learning support teacher, I just want to mention that for work requiring copying from the blackboard/whiteboard/OHT, children’s desks should be placed facing the blackboard. We have all wrung our hands at some children’s inability to copy notes, diagrams, etc accurately. Perhaps looking at how these children’s desks are placed will help with this. For them to view, turn then copy accurately is quite an expectation. Also, in my classroom, one of the rules was always respect for others & their property – devised by the children with teacher guidance This applied to the whole class, teacher included. If they wanted to borrow or look at something of mine, they asked, and the same rule applied to me…I asked if I wished to look at something that was in their tidy tub, school bag, etc. Fostering this mutual respect negated the problem of anyone helping themselves to others belongings.
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