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.

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14 thoughts on “Ready….set…GO! Setting up your Classroom Swag

  1. I love this! So inspiring to a teacher to think about the message your room communicates to others. It is so important to think about our ‘learning spaces’ and how they affect our students – it was helpful to see the steps you take to make it so wonderful! Thank you for sharing!

    • Thanks so much! I’m so inspired to take on the challenge of sparking the flame in others to look deeper and closer at their classroom set up. What an exciting journey. I appreciate your awesome feedback and encouragement!

    • Tasha love this! I love your insight into the importance of creating such a special space for learning. I agree completely that the class should be inviting. Well done!

  2. I love seeing images of your old classroom! Fun. I also love how intentional and strategic and are/were as a young educator. The way we organize a learning space says a lot to our kids and parents about how much we care and it is a subtle indicator of quality.

    Your ideas also connect well with the new MV Continuum and the idea of flexible learning spaces. Way to go! Proud to be on a team with you.

    • Thanks so much! I kept telling and promising myself to center and focus the ideas I had in my head to blog. Only great leaders challege their team to do things like this! Thank you so much for the amazing feedback and growth opportunity. I’m so excited about where my blogging can go from here. You truly are an inspiration. It is my honor and privilege to be on your team!

  3. Congratulations on your maiden voyage into the world of blogging! I love the point you make about the importance of mood and tone. It does matter how people feel when they walk into our rooms. We should all be so intentional about learning!
    You have so much experience and wisdom to offer. I just know this is going to be a GOLD MINE for educators!

    • Your words and feedback are so inspiring! Thank you Amy! I’m so thrilled to enter the world of blogging. I feel it is a step in so many great directions that I would like to go, and ignite the flame in other educators. You make me feel like I can do that. I appreciate you! Thanks so much for reading it. That means a lot to me!

  4. Tasha, CONGRATS on your blog, your posting, and your sharing of practice. This is so exciting, and I am thrilled that I get to learn from and with you in this way, too.

    I’m curious if you’ve ever engaged in this room set-up with your students of that year? Or if your room morphs and adapts throughout the year, do the students participate in that vision setting and implementation with you?

    • Thank you Bo! Your support and feedback means so much to me. I am very excited as well to see what new revelations blogging brings to my life!

      Yes! I have engaged my students in the room set-up, and though I usually already have a theme in mind, they help me to take it to the next level. They come with their amazing ideas, and we transform our space quite often to fit what they envision for their learning area as well. It’s always so exciting to see what they have to offer to the room. I need to blog on that next! The room does morph and adapt throughout the year, and sometimes collaborating with them makes me ‘scrap’ some of the ideas I had. I hope to continue to inspire teachers on how important classroom set up is, and bridging your students ideas into the picture.

      Awesome feedback. Thank you so much!

  5. Thank you so much for sharing Tasha! How could a student not feel welcome in your classroom? Not only is the classroom physically inviting, but so is the warmth and humor you share with your students and colleagues. Your enthusiasm and positivity is contagious and encourages your students to feel safe, available to learn and ready to HAVE FUN!

    • Thank you so very much Samantha! Your amazing feedback and words of encouragement mean so much to me. I’m so happy to inspire others to have amazing classrooms all over the world. That way, the learning does continue in a creative and fun way. You are so supportive. I appreciate you!

  6. Tasha, I was so glad to be told about your new blog. Kudo’s to you for taking that big step, I’m envious – I have not made time to attempt blogging, so I appreciate that you have.

    I was thinking about “the basics” you listed and began smiling when I saw the comfy, cozy places to learn. So glad to read that you are intentionally creating that space for students. Sometimes it can easily be forgotten that PEOPLE need that comfy, cosy space no matter their age. We create those spaces in our homes and they make our homes more inviting.

    The hardest item on your list to achieve, IMO, is that natural lighting. What I wouldn’t give for that. Happy planning to you for the rest of the year and so looking forward to reading about your other ideas!

    • Thank you so much Kim! I am glad and honored that you took time out to read my blog. I’m so thrilled to now enter the world of blogging. It took me a while to get it going, but once I knew what I wanted to say, the words began to flow! I know you can do it too.

      I enjoy creating spaces for students to learn in a fun, safe, and inspirational way. I hope to inspire others to do the same.

      Yes! Natural lighting is super hard. I have had those classrooms that just get none! I have gone as far as adding ‘all year round’ Christmas lights (white lights) to the room, and stars on the ceiling. They love this even more than sunlight! Any type of lighting is a total game changer. It makes them want to be in your room, and it’s almost like you take them to a special place everyday.

      Same to you! I hope you have a wonderful start to the year, and I look forward to reading your blog when you begin it soon;). You can do it!

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