Special Education Summer Series- Classroom Setup
This week is all about classroom setup. Next to working with students, setting up my classroom is my favorite. I love the blank slate and the ability to get in there and tweak things that didn’t work the way you wanted them last year. I’m switching districts this year and my new school is getting new cabinets in the classroom so I can’t get in to the building until later so I’m going to talk about more of the PRE-setup strategies and ideas I use because I will definitely be returning to this topic towards the end of summer and sharing pictures of my new classroom.
*Plan for more students then your administration says are currently there*
Right now there are 6 students in my new classroom next year. However, I’m planning the layout and structure of my room around having 8-9 students in my room. If I only have 6 students next year then I will be over prepared but happy. But I didn’t do this last year and I had 3 new students added to my room the first week of school and I was scrambling to adjust my plan to accommodate more students. I can’t stress this enough and I really wish that I’d had someone to tell me this when I started teaching. The table above is my plan for center rotations this year and I purposely have two extra centers that I can easily add if I get more students. Ideally I will have one student at each center but if I need to I can make a couple of pairs or add the extra centers if that’s a better fit.
*Define your spaces but spread them out strategically*
You’ve probably read it before but it helps to have your clearly marked and defined using dividers like low shelves to help your students stay in and use each part of your classroom correctly. Totally agree! Just make sure you lay it out well. Don’t be like me and put your block station next to the library center. It looked cute but my little lovelies didn’t want to sit and enjoy a book when they could watch or join in with their friend at the block station. I learned my lesson and now I plan on putting my library center in the corner with the independent work station on one side and the computer station on the other and have the computers face away from the library center so my readers won’t be tempted by the computer screens. The block station will used in the morning after they complete their Check In and I’m putting it there so it breaks up a big open space and its easy to keep an eye on in this location. Also notice that my center rotation will have the kids going in a big circle around the room. Last year they were bouncing back and forth across the room so I made a mental note not to make the same mistake this year.
*Stay flexible and have some backup ideas*
I’ll have a new group this year so the computers by the books may end of being a total disaster and that’s ok. If so, I have an alternate layout that I think I could like just as well if I need to change things.
*Decide if you need a teacher desk*
Some love it and use it correctly and efficiently. That’s not me. I sat junk on it and lost important papers to the magical black hole that was my teacher desk. So I got rid of it. And it was amazing because it gave me a big chunk of my room back, forced me to be a little more organized and made it really easy to explain to my para’s why they didn’t get a desk. I’m not saying your should or shouldn’t have one. I’m just saying when your thinking about classroom setup it’s worth thinking about if you need and how you’ll use a teacher desk. I have my teacher computer setup right next to the smartboard and a two drawer file cabinet that serves as my storage space.
*Think about how you want to use your paras*
We’ll talk more about this later but when your setting up your classroom it’s important to have an idea of how your going to use the para’s in your room. Will they be running any centers or stations? If so, do they need any room for supplies? What kind of work space will that require and can it be stored in the same area the para will work in or do those resources need to be stored somewhere else? Will they stay in one area during set times or do you need a floater that travels around helping out as needed? Do you have any 1-1 paras? What kind of space will that require? The answers vary a ton but no matter what it important to give some thought to how you want to use your para’s before you get to far down the classroom design process.
*I’ll definitely be coming back to this once I can get into the new room but for now hop over Adventures In The ATC and check out her great ideas!