The whole reason I started this blog is because I LOVE to help teachers organize and find the most effective ways to set up their classroom. I love the puzzle of figuring out where things go- big and small. I enjoy sharing my ideas with other people and allowing people to think differently about their classroom. Helping teachers makeover their room is my DREAM JOB!
Teresa was my very first “classroom makeover.” I met Teresa at school. She was teaching SPED my first year. She spent two years there and then we both moved to second grade during my third year of teaching. Teresa had no “classroom experience.” Of course she had plenty of experience in other peoples classrooms, but this was her first time in her own classroom and she was struggling.
She reached out to me (or I might have reached out to her- I can’t remember) a few weeks into the school year. We planned to spend a day over Thanksgiving break working on getting her classroom setup in a way that maximized her space as well as get some routines in place for her and her students. Check out the pics below to see what all we did!
In true Kelly fashion, I forgot to take before pics. So the “before pics” are more like “30 minute in pics.”
Teresa had a small group so her tables are set up in groups of three to four desks- which is what I always recommend teachers do, this sets up for great cooperative learning opportunities and helps students develop communication skills while working with teammates.
Here is another pic of her classroom. I am standing at the entrance and you can just see at the bottom of the picture, a big brown shelf that is sticking out from the wall to create an entrance way into the classroom.
Teresa did what I think a lot of new teachers do. Or at least…I assume they do because I did this and I have seen many other newbies do this. She has furniture pieces sticking out in her room. I know what she is trying to do here, she is trying to create “nooks” and separate different areas from each other. But this breaks the room up SO much.
We started by setting up routines for student materials. We put together some caddys for materials and also moved all of their textbooks to this area so that they weren’t taking up space in their desks.
The classroom library is one of the most important areas in the classroom, so we did that next. We organized her books into sections and then created labels for each of the categories. We created a little library area. You can see we didn’t do anything fancy. I think it is typical to feel that you have to spend hundreds of dollars to get your classroom set up. But sometimes, just a desk made into a shelf will work! At least until you have time to find something for a good price.
Next we got her area set up. We pushed her desk back against the wall and put her U-Table in front of it. She still has a “nook” area, but it doesn’t create as much separation and makes the area feel more open.
Teresa struggled with setting up routines for managing papers, plans, and work to be graded. So we used some of her bins to create places for everything to go. Remember my rule? Everything has a home! 🙂
We gave all of those papers a home. We made a spot for her guided reading materials. Teresa’s lesson plan materials are in the black crate separated by subject/day. The red hanging files on the left have folders with student numbers on them. This way she can put work that needs to be completed in the students folder and they can make up failing grades or get work that they missed while they were absent.
Again, we tried push as much stuff up against the wall as we could. The plus to having this brown shelf sticking out is that it provides extra “wall space” to hang anchor charts or station activities. We have some bins for each of the tables for math station manipulatives.
We created word walls for each subject that she teaches and then we labeled them with letters from the die cut machine.
Lastly, we used my favorite method for setting up seating arrangements. Each student is given a sticky note that is based on their level. I usually go based off DRA scores to determine their levels at the beginning of the year. The idea is to split your class evenly into four groups; High, High-Medium, Low- Medium, Low. Then you are able to move the sticky notes around to an arrangement that works. I always write the table number they are sitting out so that I can be sure to move them around and keep from placing kids at the same table again.
Teresa is the person I have worked the longest with, right after my friend Holly. We have spent three years together and it has been so amazing to watch Teresa grow as a teacher from Year 1 to Year 3. One of the most important things to be able to do as a teacher is to know when to ask for help- and Teresa does this so well! She is always looking for new ways to teach her kids that are the most effective and engaging.
Thank you Teresa for letting me help you out all those years ago. I know your room as changed since then, but only for the better!
Want to makeover your own room? Click the box below and get your free copy of my “Classroom Makeover Goal Planning Sheet.” I walk you through all the steps of identifying your “top 3” areas and creating a plan to help you execute your classroom makeover. And…if you do makeover your classroom, take some before and afters for me, please!
Also, if you would be interested in having me help your organize your classroom, please don’t hesitate to reach out. It is truly what makes me happy and I would LOVE to help you!
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Until next time,