First Year Teacher: Setting Up a Classroom

I am so excited about this upcoming series. I have gone back and forth a dozen times on what to blog about this summer, especially considering I am not at school and don’t have any “new material” coming into mind. But one of my passions is helping out teachers, specifically new teachers who are trying to figure it all out. That’s why this month I will be blogging about setting up a classroom, with first year teachers in mind!

First Year Teacher: Setting Up a Classroom

But before we get into all that…how’s everyone’s summer going? I feel like it’s really easy for me to tell people “oh my summer’s been good. It’s been busy, but good.”

And while that is all true, I think it’s important to not always default to the “standard answer.”

My summer has been busy, but I was thinking last night about the word “full.” Full would be a better word. Last summer I had so many things I wanted to do but no motivation to do them. So I just ended up sitting around feeling pity about all this I needed to do on my summer break but not enough time or motivation to get it all done.

I promised myself that this summer that would not be the case. Even though I am trying to plan a wedding amidst doing all the things I had planned on doing back before we got engaged. It’s safe to say this summer has an even longer to-do list. But my priority has been to just have peace throughout everything I do. If all I have motivation for is to lay on the couch and watch Netflix, I don’t beat myself up over it because my priority is rest and sometimes blogging is “rest” to me but sometimes a long nap is what I need.

How about you? Any deep thoughts this summer?

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So that was a random tangent I got on…Let’s move forward.

This week we are going to talk about setting up a classroom. Any teacher can use this “method” but in a different order just because they already have a classroom versus a new teacher walking into a brand new classroom.

How exciting! Congratulations to the new teacher getting ready to move into their brand new classroom and set up for their very first year.

Setting Up a Classroom

I thought I’d list these items in “steps.” That is what works in my brain so hopefully it translates well and makes sense to you

1.Organize things at home- I know that you have been collecting things over the summer and filling up your amazon cart with plenty of goodies for your new classroom. Do yourself a favor and organize them BEFORE you move them. Get a few boxes and put all your desk supplies in one box, all your library books in another box, classroom materials in a different box. This will help you when you get to step number three.

Setting Up a Classroom for First Year Teachers

Setting Up a Classroom for First Year Teachers

2. Layout the room first- To me, it makes sense to start with the “biggest” things first. So that’s why I say to layout your room first, specifically your big areas. Before you even start bringing boxes into your room- lay it out. Make sure to start with your 3 key areas (whole group area, classroom library, and small group area). Once you have those figured out, place your desks where you want them (I encourage you to set them up in groups of 4 for cooperative learning.)

Setting Up a Classroom for First Year Teachers

Setting Up a Classroom for First Year Teachers

(Please forgive me. I know the picture quality on these photos is quite terrible. But in all fairness, I took these with my iPhone 4 in 2012 when I had no idea I would ever be writing a blog that people actually read….)

3. Fill up your cabinets- This is when you will bring all those boxes from home that are organized and unpack them into cabinets that will be organized by like things. You can read more about how I organize my cabinets by like things. 

Setting Up a Classroom for First Year Teachers

I know that you will be tempted to skip this step in favor of getting your room all cutesy-fied. I promise you we will get there! But do this first!!!! Why?? It is tempting to come straight into a new room and put every pinterest pin into action and make your room look and feel at home (it’s important that you do that!). But then, you spend so much time with that and all the sudden it’s then 3 hours till Meet the Teacher Night and you have seven boxes of stuff that you are going to shove in your cabinets so no one sees them. Once the school year starts I promise you, you will not have time to organize them so then it just becomes a jumbled mess that gets more and more disorganized as the year goes on.

Avoid that chaos and do this step first, and I promise it will help you in the long run! 

4. Decorate your room- YAY! Now to the fun part!!! Get your pinterst board pulled up, start working on all those projects and make your classroom look and feel like home. You need and your kids need it. I would go so far to say that your kid’s parents need it to. 

Setting Up a Classroom for First Year Teachers

Setting Up a Classroom for First Year Teachers

Time Management

I’m not sure how long you have in your classroom to set up. I have usually only had about a week before PD starts. Some of my friends have access to their classroom all summer. Pros and cons to both.

Either way, you need to be very intentional with your time. As a teacher I have found that I am very scatter brained. I will start organizing one cabinet and need to go in that box to get out this thing but then I find that thing that goes in that cabinet and then all the sudden I’ve spent thirty minutes on the other side of the room starting a totally new project.

Don’t do that!

Setting Up a Classroom for First Year Teachers

I’ve started setting timers. Sometimes even for just fifteen minute increments. I will organize cabinet A until that timer is off and then I will take a break or move to a new cabinet. This is especially important to do when you are decorating because it is SO easy to get side tracked while doing that.

You may have noticed that throughout this entire blog post have been random words bolded in blue. That’s because I have SO much more to tell you on those specific topics.

I have written an ebook “The Simply Organized Classroom: Your Complete Guide to Classroom Organization and Management.” There is a WHOLE chapter dedicated to first year teachers. But also a lot of other chapters on topics listed in bold blue.

If you want to get your copy then click the image below. You’ll be taken to a page with way more info about the book and have the opportunity to buy your own copy.

Want classroom organization help? Be sure to fill out the form to schedule a time for me to come help you in your classroom!

Until next time,



First Year Teacher: Setting Up a Classroom

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