This post was featured on Classroom Chronicle on Wednesday, July 23rd 2014

HSClassroomAnother school year is almost upon us! Along with content, systems and management planning, thinking strategically about how you set up your classroom this year will boost student engagement and success all year long. How does classroom set up do this, you ask? Classroom setup directly correlates to classroom management. If it’s structured strategically it can diffuse potential disruptions and conflicts, leaving you with more time for teaching and learning instead of behavior managing. Additionally, Tennessee teachers spend at least 1,440 hours in your classroom a year, maybe more. Thoughtful design will make it a place that you want to spend your time.

Here are some tips that I’ve learned through trial and error about the best way to set up a productive and positive classroom:

  1. Plan it out before setting it up 

    The last thing you want to do is realize half way through posting on your walls is that you don’t have room for everything! I always sit down with a piece of paper or two and sketch out what I want my classroom to look like and where everything will go before doing anything else and make sure my key messages are all present and clearly visible.

  2. Leave space for student-driven creativity 

    This tells your kids that they are a valued part of the room. I do this by leaving space to post student created work, top scoring assessments and even giving students room to bring in and post their own college banners.

  3. Strategically position classroom systems 

    Will systems make it easier or more difficult to manage students? For example, if you’re going to have a data tracker will it be posted in a place that’s clearly visible to all students? Or will it create a bottleneck when students rush to check their updated stats? Thoughtful position can save you a world of stress later on

  4. Finish it before the first day of school

    This may be the most important component of room setup. A half-finished classroom isn’t going to be one in which kid want to spend time. We can certainly add to the room as the year goes on, but it should look like a finished product on day one.

Prep your curriculum. Plan your classroom systems. But don’t put classroom setup in the back seat. Spending that extra time on setup this year might be the thing that takes your room to the next level academically!

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