Top 5 Mistakes in a Classroom Set-up & Design

11:43 AM

Welcome back to another week of weird meanderings of Emilee Ray. The website where you can get a little laugh out of my life choices!

Every year teachers scan through the web and Pinterest trying to find the *perfect* design for their rooms. 

Or, they don't.

SPOILER ALERT: Everyone is different. Every room is different. 

However, after reading up on the brain of a child, there are a few things that I would have changed in each of my rooms over the years of teaching. So, without further adieu...

Fail GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY | Funny gif, Funny fails, Funny ...

*I'll work on the title

One year, I started my year setting up the desks and thought "I'll set it up as I get to know what the kids gravitate towards." 




After the school year started, the room never came together. It didn't look or feel comfortable. FOR. THE. REST. OF. THE. QUARTER.

It is always a good idea to have SOME idea of where everything will go.

Things to Think About
  • Student Materials
  • Location to collect papers
  • Place to distribute graded work
  • Reading locations
  • Places to have experiments
  • Cleaning areas
  • Stations/Centers
  • Guided Reading Table/Materials
  • In-Class Library
I worked in a school with an AMAZING staff! The teachers were amazing. There was this one teacher (if you're reading this, you know who you are). She has red-hair and an amazing style-sense! Anyways, she had a way of making Pinterest drool over her room. It was ALWAYS pristine! It was themed. It was color-specific and everything coordinated. To say I was a little envious would be an epic understatement! She was QUEEN of decor and rightly earned Teacher of the Year a few years back with her teaching skills. I assumed she spent her paycheck every week to make the room great. SPOILER ALERT ... She didn't. She was TOTALLY into number 3 of this list. But I digress.

Don't get me wrong. I truly support making your classroom YOURS. However, if you are a first, second, or third year teacher, please listen to this next sentence ...

That beautifully designed classroom didn't happen overnight.

Honestly, it probably took years to get everything that is in there.

Classroom decor and furniture is expensive. Please don't break the bank. That will stress you out. That stress will trickle into your teaching ... and all for what? Color-coordinated book boxes and bulletin boards? 

I know this seems completely contradictory to number 4. But hear me out.

My first year I think I spent a grand total of $100 on my room ... for the whole year. I was determined to save my money. Oh, how I regret that decision. The portable was drab. It wasn't inviting. It just wasn't what I would think of as a place that I wanted to be. Just think about how the kids felt about it?! Ugh.

This place that you will be basically living in for 10 straight months needs to be comfortable. Make it YOURS. No, that doesn't mean that you need to add a smart board and a new stage, but maybe a nice rug and a comfortable chair would be something to make it yours.

Plus, don't think that everything you want/need has to be brand new. A lot of seasoned teachers have learned to ways of a DIY project.

  • YARD SALES - see what furniture and kids books are available. 
  • THRIFT STORES - GREAT places to find great deals! Many GoodWills have 50% off days. Some even have teacher discounts! 
  • BUY-SLL-TRADES - So many FaceBook groups revolve around furniture, schooling materials, and even teacher supplies! Look online and see what's out there!

This became HUGE in my room. At one point I had this free-standing (yet bolted to the ground) shelf/cabinet system. Behind it is where my kids hung their backpacks. No big deal, right? Well, come to find out, kids were bullying others each morning back there. It was a short amount of time, so I wouldn't notice. But it was happening. My solution? I hung a mirror on the ceiling. Yep. Problem solved. 

Why tell you this? Because it's important. 

Make sure wherever your kids' belonging are, they are monitored well. You don't want things being stolen from backpacks, or backpacks being messed with, or kids messing with each other. It isn't good for a classroom's community.

1. K*I*S*S 
Keep It Simple Stupid

There was a time that I thought ALL of the walls needed to be covered. Not only that, I tried painting all of the rooms I worked in. One was 2-tones of blue (think Dodger blue and robins egg blue), the other one was 2-tones of green (think grass-green and celery green). Why? Because I wanted it! I covered walls with pre-made posters and banners/pennants/lights. Talk about a circus! It caused so much overstimulation that I decided I would NEVER do that again. 

I also struggled with the layout. Desks here and there. Centers/Workstations all over the room. I couldn't even keep an eye on the kids at the classroom library because of the shelves blocking my view. Oh. The. Stuggles.

Here are my suggestions on how to KISS in the room!

  • Make sure you can see everything from the location that you will be located in most of the time while kids work independently.
    • Reading Table
    • Front of the Room
    • Teacher Desk
  • It can be ANYTHING!
  • Don't make it too 'busy.' Science has shown that kids who are over-stimulated struggle to focus on tasks at hand. Also, children who have ADD or ADHD struggle, even more, when walls are covered or there are a ton of colors/designs in the room.
  • Remember that this is the place you/your students will live in most of their waking hours over the next 10+ months.
  • Make sure there is a structure.
  • Make sure it isn't cluttered - this deters from learning and feeling safe.
  • Have a plan to keep their materials localized and organized.

And there you have it! My top 5 Classroom Set-Up and Design Mistakes.

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