Ready….set…GO! Setting up your Classroom Swag

“It’s the most wonderful time of the year”…and it’s not even Christmas! The beginning of the school year brings about the same hustle and bustle in the stores, and in the streets as one of the most celebrated seasons. As a new or experienced teacher, you are always nervous about a new year. I still dream (in color), about the first day of school. We may ask ourselves: What will the school year bring? How will the students behave? What can I do to help them? How can I make this the best year they ever had? Will I be ready?

In my BLOG, it is my life’s passion to help teachers create and set up a classroom atmosphere, and obtain their ‘teacher swag’ with dynamic classroom management! At the end of the day, it is all about setting a mood and a tone. The MOOD that this is a safe, warm, and friendly place of learning…and a TONE that it includes respecting myself and others as we learn together.

I will provide a few of my own experiences, as well as those of experts and esteemed fellow colleagues.

So what makes a classroom complete to you? Is it all of the ‘stuff’ in it? Or what you do with the ‘stuff?’ In my experience as a classroom teacher, setting up my classroom space was always first and foremost to me. I want my students to feel happy about entering our area of learning together.

Attached you will find the pictures of my very first classroom. Even in 2007, when I was a young 22 year-old first year teacher, I was just beginning my journey of making my way in this teaching world.

Here are a few of the basic things I feel a classroom should have (but not limited to):

*A warm and welcoming environment
*An arrangement of seats that helps all learners
*Walls that students can use/read from on a daily basis to learn
*Clean, open, and moveable learning spaces
*Great lighting (the more natural sunlight that can come in, the better!)
*Comfy corners and sections where they do not feel just confined to learning at their desks

Here are my steps in order of what I do to create a classroom environment:

1.) Select a theme (not always a requirement, but I love a good theme!)
2.) Go in the room, and ‘feel out’ the space. Twirl around for a bit, and see your room in its entirety.
3.) Take posted notes and label everything that you plan to have in the room.
4.) Walk away.
5.) Come back the next day and section off the room. Decide what you will have in each corner and space.
6.) Have a relaxing area where students can feel free to “move about the cabin” when you model and monitor student movement when and where in your room.
7.) Set up your decorations, posters, furniture, and so forth of what you want your room to be for you and your students.

Though these steps may seem simple (or not). Classroom set-ups take a lot of time and preparation. Though it feels like you have to spend a million dollars to set up a classroom, you don’t! The most expensive part is your thoughts, time, and effort. The love and care you provide the second a student walks through your door, now that’s priceless!

Though the appearances of classrooms have changed with technology to a more sleek, modern look than my first classroom pictured from years ago; it still holds true that a room should be open, inviting, and a place of learning. Otherwise, it benefits no one…well, except maybe the walls.

Rather you have begun school already, or still have a few days to go, happy start to the school year all educators of the world~!

Make your classroom a learning home.