You turn the key and unlock your classroom…for the first time ever. You’re stepping into a career you’ve been working toward for years. It’s amazing; it’s exciting; it’s…overwhelming. Students will be arriving in a few days, so how to you get your first school year as a teacher off to the strongest start possible? You…jump in and get started.
As a new teacher, you’ll quickly realize time is a valuable commodity, and it will be through the entire first year of your career. You’re moving into a new arena, where you have many decisions to make and a great deal of planning to do. Here are some quick, practical tips to get your room, your lessons, and your mind ready for the first day of school.
SETTING UP THE ROOM
One of the most exciting moments is walking into your very own classroom. You have the opportunity to “design” your room—as much as the facilities and furniture will allow. That means you can implement some of those ideas you’ve discussed in your COE classes.
What kind of seating arrangement do you want?
IDEA: If you’re concerned about behavior management, consider putting desks in orderly rows. If you want some student collaboration through the school year, group desks. For the most in collaboration (yet probably also requiring the most of your skills in behavior management), opt for tables rather than desks.
Which way do you want your students facing?
IDEA: Try to achieve the fewest distractions (windows, hallway traffic, etc.) and greatest focus on the lesson (clear line of sight to boards and overhead screens, for example).
What kind of foot-traffic path do you want to create in your room?
IDEA: Set up your room so students have easy access from the classroom door to their desks. It will help with classroom management and safety issues, as well as any fire or tornado drills that occur through the year.
Where do you want to locate supplies your students will need on a regular basis (writing folders, textbooks, etc.)?
IDEA: Think easy access and routine. Use a file cabinet drawer or storage crate for each class period’s writing folders or other material. Make sure the cabinet is easily accessible for your students. Make space on a shelf for each class’s textbooks, if you need to store them through the day. No matter what grade level you’re teaching, several plastic tubs of varying sizes will come in handy for compartmentalizing highlighters, markers, etc.
Where can you place your own desk so it provides student access…but not SO much access that it will become a distraction?
IDEA: Angle your desk in a corner that gives you good visibility around the room but also takes up a minimal amount of space.
What types of “decorations” would you like on your walls? A theme approach? Inspirational items? Content-connected items? A few personal items to share your personality with your students?
IDEA: Begin with minimum décor; post times for various activities, key information that you want them to remember (ex: a process for checking out a book), lesson objectives, essential questions, etc. There will be plenty of time later on to create a truly personal learning area.
Are you a bulletin board person? How can you best use that space?
IDEA: Use one bulletin board—the one students have the most access to—for business…to post schedules, announcements, and other materials your students will need; use a less accessible spot for less vital items, such as photos and other materials that show your personality.