It was the best of times.. it was the worst of times.. getting my classroom together for the start of the new school year. We’re a bag of mixed emotions come late July/ early August. There’s excitement for a fresh school year and a new batch of beautiful students.. and then there’s stress… stress over the fact that you are returning to a bare-boned classroom and have to start organizing and decorating from scratch. To alleviate some of those nerves, we’ve come up with some tips to help you get started decorating your classroom from scratch for a brand new school year.
Choose a Theme
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This part is super fun but can also be overwhelming with the amount of available options and possibilities. While you can just stick with a certain color scheme, you also have the option to pick a theme such as succulents, llamas, polka-dots, superheros, farmhouse, etc. My favorite places to shop for the trendiest and best selection of classroom decorations are Schoolgirl Style,Oriental Trading, and Amazon.
I enjoy having a simple, clean classroom, so this year I decided to go with a farmhouse meets industrial look. I wanted my classroom to look like Joanna Gaines from HGTV decorated it, so I incorporated shiplap and simple black and white accents throughout.
If you are looking to incorporate shiplap into your classroom, you can purchase this bulletin board paper below. It is SUPER easy to cut and hang up and its extremely durable, so you can reuse this resource many times. I have white shiplap, which I abolutely love, but a darker wood look is also available.
Decide on a Layout
The layout of your classroom is of utmost importance. According to Today’s Classroom, “no perfect arrangement exists”. However, students should be able to see the teacher during instruction at any given time. So, it is imperative that every student has a good view of whereever most of the teaching takes place. This blog post from Today’s Classroom will give you some great ideas and resources on classroom layout options.
It is also really important to consider the functionality of your classroom. Of course you want a beautiful classroom, but you also want the setup to be purposeful for your daily use. Where does most of your teaching happen? Will you use stations or centers often? Will you have individual student desks or tables? All of these are important decisions to make BEFORE buying any materials to decorate your classroom. The layout should be functional and foster student engagement.
Make Your Classroom Cozy
Flexible seating.. it’s ALL the rage these days with teachers and students. There are endless choices and possibilities when deciding on cozy furniture and pillows. If you choose to use flexible seating, make sure you have classroom expectations that cover when students can use it and WHO can use it. If you want to start small, only offer flexible seating to students for good behavior. If your students really enjoy it, maybe you can expand your flexible seating choices.
Create a Library
Organizing a classroom library is our FAVORITE! If you are a brand new teacher, you will have to start small if you are planning to create a library space in your classroom. Here are some suggestions on finding books:
- – Ask for childrens’ books that family and friends are no longer using
- – Search thrift stores
- – Go to garage sales that advertise childrens’ books
- – Ask your coworkers and administration if anyone wants to donate to your classroom
Once you have books, you’ll have to come up with an organizational system. Do you want to organize by genre? By level? By author? See what your school suggests or decide what works best for you and your students. Either way, you’ll need a few things to get started:
- – Bookshelves
- – Book bins / buckets
- – Labels
Create a Working Wall
It would be wise to create spaces and walls that help with the functionality of your classroom. Consider creating a working wall like this business center, where you can automate your classroom’s paper system.
Create a Display Wall
Students really enjoy seeing their work on display. Consider creating a space where you can show off your students’ best work. Check out our resource for displaying student work. It’s super simple and can go with any classroom theme.
Remember That Less is More
You may be tempted to cram every square inch of your classroom with materials, decorations, and just… STUFF. Take a step back and survey your classroom. For an optimal learning environment, it is best for students to have clean, open spaces. WeAreTeachers has a fantastic blog post about ways to declutter and purge items from your classroom. You can check it out here.
Other blog posts that may you may be interested in:
- – Ways to Make Your Classroom Warm and Inviting
- – 10 Things That Every First Year Teacher Should Do
- – 5 Tips for Making ‘Meet The Teacher Night’ a Success
- – Ways to Engage Young Students During Writing