Congratulations on landing your first teaching job. It has probably been a long four or five years in the making, but now that you have graduated from university you are ready to start your career in education. You may believe the tough days of studying and preparing for class are behind you, but believe me, you are just getting started.
You surely have a long To-Do list in your head right now and are possibly feeling very overwhelmed. However, take this from a veteran educator, just take things one day at a time as you prepare for the upcoming school year and you will be fine. Before you do anything else, though, you should definitely tackle getting your classroom ready for business. Here is a compact list on getting your classroom prepared for the students as they will be entering your doorway in a matter of weeks.
Go Shopping for Classroom Supplies
First thing first, before you can start decorating your classroom, you must have the supplies to do so. Now before you run off and start racking up debt on your credit card, you may be in luck. Most school districts will kick in a few bucks to first-time teachers so they can afford their classroom supplies and decorations. For my first classroom, the school district told me I had $200 to spend and then turn in the receipts after to get reimbursed. Anything over $200, though, was my responsibility.
Arranging the Furniture
Before you start hanging things on the wall, you have to place your furniture where you want it so everyone can actually see the important signs and posters. Begin by figuring out if you are going to arrange the desks in straight rows or if you are going to do more group seating in your room. Also, determining where you place your teacher’s desk is important. You want to be able to control the classroom even while you are sitting down, so don’t make it in some obscure place.
Finally, see if you can acquire a couple of tables for your room as well. Tables always come in handy when you are doing projects together or just for demonstrations. You may think you will never use them, but I guarantee you that you will sooner rather than later. They are pretty handy when you are creating stations around the room for your students to participate in.
Too many educators pack their walls in the classroom with posters and signs so instead of presenting solid and helpful information, nothing stands out in the sea of madness. Less is more with these educational posters as you want the students to actually take in the information instead of it just getting lost in everything else. I have walked into classrooms that have every square foot on the walls blanketed with nonsense. I’m not sure how students could even pay attention or not be induced into seizures by all the craziness. Keep everything relevant to what you are trying to teach your students.
Make Seating Charts
Whether you are teaching the same 25 students all day long or constantly having a new class arrive every hour, do not let them choose where they are sitting. Have a seating chart in place. If you let best friends sit next to each other, you may be okay with some of the kids, but others will feed off of one another and the classroom will turn chaotic.
Cart of Computers
Most classrooms will have a cart of computers readily available as we dive deeper into the 21st century. Rather than keeping them in the back of the room out of sight, have them right up next to the board so you will be reminded to use them early and often. Technology is not going anywhere so you might as well embrace it fully. The internet, if used correctly in the classroom, is much more helpful while teaching than any textbook you may be assigned. Try to use the computers a few times a day if possible. Instead of having your students do their writing projects with paper and pencil, let them use Google Docs instead. Rather than having them do a diorama for some topic, let them use a presentation app and develop these skills that they will use through their whole life.
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