Is your classroom setup not working for you? Are you looking for ways you can renovate or reorganize to make it better for your students and better for you to teach? Changing a classroom set up could be just what you need to make all the difference in productivity and your ability to teach well.
Here are some ideas on how to completely change your classroom setup:
First, you need to know what you’re trying to accomplish. Why do you need to change it? What are you hoping to do with it changed? What goals do you hope to reach with the new set up? Write these things down so you have goals set before you start. Don’t just change to change. Make it purposeful.
Get your students involved – They spend as much time in it as you, right? So why not let them take part in rearranging the set up. They can tell you what they like, what they don’t like, and what they think will help make learning easier. If you are making the change over the summer, chances are, you may need to make changes once the children come. Keep their individual needs in mind. Also, be realistic. What works this year may not work next year and that is okay.
Define pain points – What is it about your current set up that isn’t working the way you want? Do students have trouble seeing the board? Is it difficult to do certain tasks? Do you need more open space in the floor for activities? What are current pain points? Your students can help you work through these when you involve them. Think about your curriculum expectations. For me, the word wall was super important. I wanted to make sure that my students could see it well so it became a viable resource. We are trying to foster independence so make sure that your students can actually use the resources that you are providing around the room.
Clear out the clutter – When you change your classroom set up, you’re probably going to find a lot of clutter. It’s like spring cleaning at home. You move things and attempt to clean and you’ll find stuff you didn’t even remember having. I have a rule, if I didn’t use it at all during the last school year, I sold or gave it away. I also learned after an entire school year that I quit using my paper files and had gone completely digital with google. So, I got rid of the filing cabinet and recycled everything. That was a major purge and it felt good!
Repurpose things you already have – When changing your set up, you can still use many (or all) of the things you have, but look for new ways to use them. You can repurpose storage, wall hangings, learning tools, furniture and more. If it’s there, you can find a way to make it work with the new set up. I liked small defined spaces. Especially for young learners, small, defined spaces make children feel safe. Often when a child is hiding in a corner, it is not an act of defiance but instead a security for them.
With that in mind, I used many small shelves and rugs. I repurposed the back of every shelf to make it multipurpose. On one shelf, I attached a paint tray and made a custom magnetic board. Another shelf had a pocket chart attached to the back of it for word work centers. Makes space multifunctional so you can have less furniture and more room.
When redoing your room, start with your group area first. Then, plan your teacher space out. I had a small desk and a teacher table to work with small groups. I think it’s a misconception that teachers need this massive area but when you scale down, you give students more space. When students have more space, they can spread out and that helps create a more cohesive environment.
These are just a few tips to keep in mind when you change your classroom set up. Are there any tips you would add to our list? Make sure you check out my classroom pictures here.