There is no better time to let your inner-decorator come out than the beginning of a new school year. While planning my classroom space this summer, the colorful classroom boards on Pinterest flashed before my eyes. I envisioned my room as a homey, color coordinated, earth-toned space a Pottery Barn stylist would envy. Then I remembered my classroom was a rather small, cinder-block rectangle adorned with white laminate cabinets and teal counters, and my budget was more Target and Dollar Tree than Pottery Barn. Curse you, reality!
What I did realize was that without spending a lot of money or time, I could still create a warm and welcoming environment that would serve my students well. This week, I’ll share with you how I set up my classroom in less than three hours leaving me more time to spend planning lessons and enjoying my family during these last days of summer.
Watch this video of my actual classroom set-up to learn the zones every classroom needs, how to make sure your floor plan flows, the secrets to fade-resistant bulletin boards, and what you need to put in your teacher tool kit at the end of this year. Mobile users, please go to: http://bcove.me/u5le4fe4
Do as much prep work as possible at home, including sketching furniture layouts and creating bulletin board components on the computer. Even though I’m still technically working, I love that I’m doing it in close proximity to my family.
My kitchen table about a week before set-up. We ate out that night!
Choose a time when there are not many people in the building. Don't be distracted with colleagues you haven’t seen all summer. Setting up your classroom quickly means you’ll have time with them — later.
Stay away from the computer. Often, sitting at my computer, one click leads to another. I've realized it’s best to get my computer work done at home and only leave printing for school.
Before you arrive, decide on everything that needs to be done and designate a specific time for each task.
Set a timer to help keep yourself on track.
|Furniture Arrangement||35 minutes|
|Bulletin Boards||40 minutes|
|Hallway Display||30 minutes|
|Decorating and Desktops||40 minutes|
|Copies and Planning||30 minutes|
Everything does not need to be done for you to declare your classroom set-up finished. Think of your room as a work in progress.
I aways leave bulletin boards empty so the students can get excited when their work, not mine, fills them.
My classroom library is still under wraps on the first day of school. Introducing and setting out a few book baskets at a time over the first month of school helps build interest among my young readers.
Remember when the theme every single September was simply Back to School? In this day of teacher blogs and Pinterest boards, it is easy to feel inferior to the teacher who has used paper clips to recreate the Eiffel Tower for her City of Lights theme.
Do what works best for you no matter what that may be. I’ve had to teach myself it’s okay if everything doesn't match our theme, and in the process I've reclaimed hours of my life. I'll just hope my third graders and their parents will appreciate me for teaching my students all they need to know in a warm and caring environment, even if I’m not wearing a beret!
As the video shows, my classroom is quite traditional. It includes spaces for large and small group instruction, and areas where students can easily collaborate or work independently. There is a teacher work center and student utility areas where homework can be turned in and lunch count taken.
During the decorating portion of set-up, I used just over five minutes to create a "curtain" out of a plastic tablecloth, duct tape, and an old tension rod. I was pretty excited about my $2 creation that will hide my messy bookshelf.
I created these at home and printed at school during the last portion of my set-up.
Click on the pictures above for an editable binder cover you can personalize. The font used on the first two is Fontmoochers from KevinandAmanda.com. You can download for free!
I love creating water bottle labels as an easy way to provide an extra-special touch. Download my template to create our own labels. They're not just for the start of school — you can make personalized labels for special events all year.
For nearly two decades I have purchased my Lesson Plan Book from the Teacher Store. I love its extra large size, and it comes with a CD that allows you to create your plans on the computer.
Strategically setting up my classroom in three hours has already gotten my school year off to a great start. I've been able to enjoy these last few weeks of vacation with my family. Previously I would be heading off to school nearly every day for a few hours to "work in room."