I firmly believe that classroom teachers should intentionally prioritize the setup and organization of their classroom to create safe spaces. Melanie let me help her out with that in this elementary classroom makeover.
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Melanie reached out to me a few days before meet the teacher night in pure panic and stress. In three days parents and kids would be entering her classroom and she was still completely in boxes and no idea where to begin.
I walked Melanie through the process I use to set up classrooms in an organized way. If you want some help on that too, then head to this blog to get more info!
An Elementary Classroom Makeover
Melanie is a 4th grade math and science teacher. The school she is at is literally busting at the seams. This area of town is growing like crazy and the school isn’t able to keep up!
Melanie’s classroom is not really even a classroom at all. It used to be used as a communal space for the campus. There were no built in storage cabinets for supplies or any cubbies for the students’ materials. So needless to say, we had to get creative!
Here are a few before pictures of Melanie’s classroom.
Because the school was busting at the seams, she was told that there were no desks available for her to use. She had 3 U-tables in the middle of her room as well as plenty of boxes, crates, shelves, carts, and tubs loaded with all of her supplies.
The plan was to use the U-tables as her student’s desks along with the round table in the picture above and a rectangle table she had as well.
We spent a solid hour and a half trying to make this work and it just wasn’t! Luckily, we found some desks that we stole politely asked for. Once we had the desks, it was game on!
Classroom Organization Process
I walked Melanie through this tried and true classroom setup process. If we can follow an organized set of steps while setting up, we are “setting up” ourselves for success!
Whole Group Area
The first thing we wanted to do was to define the Whole Group Teaching Area.
This is where she will spend a lot of time with her kids and we wanted to make sure it was a focal point of the room. She had plenty of bean bags, cushions, and pillows that helped to make the space more inviting.
You can also see in the back corner that she has a SMART board which is used as a station.
We put the small circular table there to add a seating area for the kids to work at during independent work time.
Next we worked on getting the desks situated. We moved the desks into cooperative groups by placing 4 desks together in groups of 4 and 5.
All desks are facing the front of the room so that no students’ backs are to the front.
Small Group Teaching Area
We defined her small group teaching area by placing one of the U-tables at the back of the room.
When setting up your small group teaching area, be sure to include tubs, bins, and shelves to organize your small group teaching materials!
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Other Classroom Areas
Once we had the main classroom areas defined (whole group, small group, and student desks area) we moved on to some other important areas in an elementary classroom.
We pushed this shelf of cubbies up against the wall to free up this space and make the entrance to the classroom more inviting and open.
Classroom Library Area
As elementary teachers we want to encourage our kids to love reading. One way to do that is to create an organized, thoughtful, and engaging classroom library.
In addition to her library, she also has a super cute reading nook! Her theme this year is “Alice in Wonderland” so this nook is her “rabbit hole”!
Math Station Organization
One of the things Melanie was doing really well in her classroom was her Math station materials.
Each of these white baskets have the TEKS on it. That way, when a kid is struggling with a certain concept, she can send them over to the station area and they can pick a Math activity of their choosing and work on it.
This allows them the option of choice as well as it allows Melanie the ability to focus in on the exact skill that that student is lacking in.
Here is a close up of the bins.
By 8:15 we were both exhausted. The room wasn’t complete by any means, but we had made a really good start!
Melanie could see the light at the end of the tunnel. One of the hardest parts of setting up an organizing a classroom, no matter how experienced you are, is getting started. Getting started can seem so daunting.
But that’s all Melanie and I did- we got started.
And we made a lot of progress.
Melanie was feeling so much more motivated and in control after our short 4 hours together. I told her she needed to leave because HELLO it’s 8:15…why are we still here?!?!
But…she text me at 10:00 that night with pictures of even more work that she did in her room.
Want to do a makeover in your elementary classroom? Or high school classroom, for that matter!
Grab your copy of the Classroom Makeover Goal Planning Sheet and get to organizing!
Until next time,