Do you ever feel like you just need to take everything you can see and stow it away in a plastic tub and deal with at a later date? That all has to do with how you prioritize setting up your classroom. In today’s episode, I am sharing 7 common mistakes I see teachers making when they set up a classroom and how you can do it a bit differently!
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During my first year of teaching, I was in another teachers classroom for a presentation we had to do in our graduate program. I remember sitting in this particular teacher’s classroom and admiring how organized and cleaned off her desk area was.
After her presentation, I mentioned it to her and she said “oh, you should see the box under my desk, I literally took everything that was out and shoved it in this box before y’all got here.”
I think that is the case for a lot of teachers. It’s how we end up in the middle of November with our classrooms no more organized than they were on the first day of school.
Mistakes to Avoid When you Set Up a Classroom
If you can take the time at the beginning of the year to set up a classroom in an intentional way, then you set yourself up for success all year long.
Here are the mistakes I see teachers making the most:
1. Start with decorating
NO! Don’t do this!!!
Inside The Organized Teacher Framework™, I teach the “cake method” which is the order in which the classroom should be set up. The decorating is the LAST thing you want to do.
A cute classroom will only last you so long so take time now to set it up correctly. The decorating can come later.
2. Bounce around from item to item
Do you ever open up a box, unpack one item, and put it in a cabinet then as you are in that cabinet, you realize you want to rearrange the cabinet (“it’ll only take a couple of minutes” you tell yourself).
Thirty minutes later you are reorganizing your desk when you realize “oh yeah…that box!”
Be sure to set timers as you are unpacking your classroom. Twenty minutes to focus on one box should be more than enough. Then, move on to the next item and set another timer.
3. Forgetting about Classroom Management
How many times have you gone up over a weekend or holiday break to rearrange your classroom?
Again, we get so excited about making our classroom look cute and cozy that we focus on getting all the boxes unloaded and unpacked instead of thinking through the flow of how things will work in your classroom.
When getting ready for a new school year, it’s really important that you figure out how you will manage your classroom and behavior. Students need limits from day one and it’s important that you have them ready to go by then, too!
The summertime is a great time to map out your routines and structures. The Organized Teacher Framework™ and workbook has a whole section devoted to helping you map this all out.
4. Not giving things homes
If I had a penny for every time I said “your items need homes….”
But for real, you want to be as purposeful as possible when putting items where they belong. Try giving themes to your cabinets so you know what goes where.
5. Neglecting the Top 3 Areas
In episode 57 I covered the top 3 areas you need to have organized in your classroom.
If the focus is on getting things up on the walls and getting your room decorated, then you miss out on the time to get some really important areas of your classroom set up.
6. You set it up for “perfection”
I am preaching to the choir here because there isn’t a thing I don’t do without trying to achieve perfection. It’s a fatal flaw of mine, but also a really important part of the success I have in helping teachers organize their classrooms.
We think that EVERYTHING needs to perfect for the first day, but sometimes done is better than perfect.
The exception here is that sometimes people take that to mean “I am going to get my classroom looking super cute and cozy” and whatever doesn’t have a home or get handled before the first day will be thrown in a cabinet. And that is where we end up with the issue come mid-November and nothing in your classroom is working.
If you are going to strive for perfection, I would rather you do it with getting your organization and routines down to perfection and worrying about the decorating later.
7. Focusing on cute over purpose
We get so wound up in getting that “Pinterest perfect” classroom that we know we will never reach, yet we continuously strive for.
Teachers create bulletin boards that are overdecorated and students can’t focus. We use fonts that are cute but students can’t read. We try to have everything match and go so well together but we end up with polka dots or stripes all over the place.
Yes, this is YOUR classroom. But it’s also your STUDENTS classroom. Please make sure that the classroom is more for them than it is for you.
When you set up a classroom, you want to be sure you are not making these 7 common mistakes:
- Start with decorating
- Bounce around from task to task without finishing
- Forgetting about Classroom Management
- Not giving things homes
- Neglecting the “Top 3” areas in your classroom
- You set it up for “perfection”
- Focus on cute over purpose
Remember to have grace for yourself if you have made one (or all) of those mistakes! (The only reason I can tell you these are mistakes is because I myself have made them.)
I’ve shared lots of links in this post. Here’s a quick recap:
- 6 Steps to Setting Up a Classroom
- How to Organize Your Teacher Desk
- Small-Group Area Organization Tips
- Student Paper Workflow (blog + free guide)
- How to Organize Student Materials
- Podcast sponsor: Cora Feminine Products
- Podcast sponsor: Master Your Classroom Training
- Prep for the First Day of School 3 Day Challenge
- Top 3 Areas to Organize in Your Classroom
Until next time,