An attractive and welcoming classroom environment is often top of mind as we head into the new year. But, the thing you have to remember is, it is you, as the teacher, that makes the classroom.
For some teachers, it is important to set up their classroom in a certain way at the beginning of the school year. The urge to go all out in your first few years of teaching may be strong. If that is your personality type, go for it! If you are more the low-key type, embrace it and if you feel you should have more, trust us when we say, your room is just perfect.
Here at Rainbow Sky HQ, Ash is a Type A teacher, and Alisha is a Type B. So, we can confidently say, we both have very different processes and expectations of ourselves when setting up and decorating our classrooms.
We decided to put our heads together and brainstorm all those time-saving hacks we have found along the way that have helped us create great learning spaces for our students:
★ Check what furniture, resources, and materials that are already in your classroom. Is there anything you have inherited that can get you started?
★ Use masking tape or painter's tape to line up your display letters so you can pin them up straight. (Note: painters tape is also a good blutac substitute if you need to be careful of your classroom walls)
★ Setup your class library with your books in rainbow order. It may seem a little over the top but will help when the students are returning the books (plus it looks great!)
★ Use post-it notes to plan where you will display things. It is easier to move around post-its instead of entire displays.
★ Create large letters in a word doc (we suggest making your text size 400-600). Print on coloured paper and leave a slight border around each letter so they pop on the wall (Bonus tip: use a hole punch to help cut out the inside of the letters).
★ Use fabrics, contact, wallpaper, wrapping paper, or plastic table cloths as backing on pinboards (we like to use solid colours so that what is on the board stands out).
★ Layer/double the border on your pinboards to make them even more visually appealing – we suggest matching a straight with a scalloped border.
★ When laminating put two pages through at once (we promise it works!) While you are at it, put a small smudge of glue on the back of the things you are laminating to avoid them slipping around.
★ When putting up lettering, start in the middle and work your way out so they are evenly lined up and centred on your wall.
★ Recruit some friends and host a working bee where they can help you cut, laminate, or move furniture.
★ Display things on an angle to avoid needing to get it ‘perfect’.
★ If you have walls that need velcro dots, add velcro to the back of a class set of pegs. Use the pegs to display student work.
★ Fasten bird netting to your classroom roof or hangover display lines. This netting looks great when you are putting up student craft.
★ Use cheap party supplies to brighten your classroom – bunting, tassels, battery-powered fairy lights, and fake greenery can be cheaply sourced and look great on pinboards, along your whiteboard, at the front of your teacher desk, or in other spaces in your classroom that need an extra element of excitement.
★ Don’t want to pay a fortune on sit spots? It’s okay if you do, we have over the years and they’re great but unfortunately, they don’t always work on every classroom floor type. Here’s what you can do instead. Get some colourful duct tape ( there is such a thing) and place the mini square on the floor. They work a treat.
★ Instead of sit spots or a class carpet, use some durable tape and make a rectangle big enough for your students on the floor.
★ Classroom supplies can be found at a range of different stores. For all our Aussie teachers, hit up Kmart, Bunnings, Ikea, dollar stores and Spotlight for cheap supplies (these caddies pictured are from Spotlight).
★ Create a ‘WOW Work’ wall. It looks great in an empty classroom but it also allows you to swap out student work easily and regularly.
★ Use hanging shoe storage organisers to create an instant storage space for each student (we recommend the pocket style). This can work inside our outside a cupboard door. Pick your preference.
★ A shower caddy or any container with compartments can be used to store whiteboard supplies such as erasers, markers etc.
★ Dedicate an organised place for small bits and pieces to make teacher life easier!
We could continue but we are going to stop there because we know we have given you plenty to think about already!
Need more help? Last year we asked some Aussie Instagram royalty how they tackle setting up their classroom. Read what they said here.
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One more SPECIAL thing before you go...
Do you wonder how that other teacher looks like they have it all together? Seriously, they are able to do everything expected of them and don’t ever seem frazzled OR stressed!
We have designed an online course called TRANSFORM YOUR FIRST YEARS to not only help you with the nitty-gritty of everyday teacher life but also provide you with a supportive community of other teachers who are in exactly the same position as you. A place where questions, big or small, are celebrated.
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