Building a healthy and happy classroom community takes time and consistency. Creating a safe place where students are excited to be each day is part of the magic that teachers get to create. From decorations to furniture placement, we hold the power to creating an environment that our students can thrive in. One of the ways you can set your classroom up for success is by keeping the following ideas in mind when setting up your room at the beginning of the school year. Here are a few things to keep in mind!
Creative Seating Options -Don’t be afraid to try new things with your classroom seating choices. My motto? If it doesn’t work, keep trying. I did this multiple times. I moved furniture and we tried several things until we found a good fit for us that year. Sometimes, we did it all again six weeks later. Your classroom is your blank canvas. Table groups, flexible seating, and other creative seating options are a great way to build a strong classroom community. Establish clear expectations, and trust your students. Search Pinterest for amazing photos of classroom set up examples, and great ideas for starting flexible seating in your classroom this year!
Intentional Seating – Being intentional with seating arrangements can also help build a strong classroom community. Be okay with moving students every six weeks or so and be flexible with your students’ needs. You may find out in a few days that a student pairing isn’t as successful as you had hoped. Try your best not to single students out. Simply move their names at the end of the day and let them know of the change privately the next morning. Make it a priority to pair students together who can build each other up. I love creating table groups of students that have a wide range of academic strengths. I had a student who was extremely shy and I sat her at my large group table along with another student who was very shy as well. I couldn’t get them to stop talking! Sometimes, moving kids around and giving them an ideal place to learn makes all of the difference. You can involve them in this, too! Ask them, “Where do you learn best?” Help them learn how to take ownership with your coaching along the way. Be willing to be flexible, know your students, and make it fun!
Bonus Idea: Use a sharpie paint pen to write your student’s names on the tables. The paint pen stays on and erases with hand sanitizer and a wipe. This option makes it easy to remove names when its time to switch up seating.
Inviting Decorations – A blank classroom and a new year holds endless possibilities. The more we put on the walls with our students, the more it will feel like our space. A teaching mentor taught me that one of the best ways to start out your year is with wall space. Find a theme or color scheme and focus on simplicity and what is absolutely essential. I found that clutter, bright wall posters everywhere, and bright lights all create an over stimulating environment. Lamps, curtains, and light shades will help create a cozy atmosphere that is calm and inviting. Can your classroom feel like home? Absolutely! The more at home your students feel, the more cohesive and safe your classroom space will be for both you and your students. Create a space where you want to be each day! You can check out my previous classroom set ups in these blog posts HERE, HERE, and HERE.
What do you keep in mind when you are working on your classroom setup?