Posted in displays, Learning, Routines, Technology

Setting up your classroom!

As we approach the end of another school year, my mind immediately jumps to the beginning of next year and what I’m going to do differently, or keep the same…new posters or furniture arrangements, what apps we need on which iPads…

I’m sure I’m not alone.

However for the last 2 years I haven’t had a classroom to set up and I won’t have do do it for 2018 either. But it got me thinking about all the different classrooms that I rotate through and the types of things I would be focusing on as a teacher – if I was staying in the same room, or moving to a different one!


  • Do you have a designated wall space for different subjects? Where do you display anchor charts for various subjects? Or key terminology?
    I am a big believer in visual literacy around the classroom, including word walls, a ‘maths dictionary’ wall and I’ve recently introduced a VCOP wall into one of the classrooms I teach in. In the past, I’ve also had a ‘Wall (or Window) of Fame’ for any students who are featured in our newsletter or local newspaper – I simply cut out the article and blu-tack it to the area – a great way to showcase students and make them feel important. Birthday charts are also a way to help students feel valued, as well as a way to remember and plan for any birthday cupcakes that may be brought it!
    I also like to include very clear instructions and guidelines. These posters from First Grade Glitter and Giggles were used quite often in my class, to avoid me repeating myself.
    A few other things to consider: are you going to display a visual timetable for each day, or have a classroom helper display?


  • Do you have photos or names of all students at the entrance to your class?
    I always had some sort of theme to my class, so in the past I’ve created door labels with their names and our class logo, or ones with their photo. I’ve used similar labels for their lockers or bag hooks and if using set seating, I’ve attached labels to desks.
    If your class has a name, for example the Year 2 Rainbow Fish, I always display that on the door too!


  • Where will your students keep their stationary and books?
    My students have often had their own pencilcases with everything inside. The problem I often found is that even though parents were asked, they didn’t get everything labelled and things went missing and suddenly I had 8 kids in my class without a pair of scissors.

    Sometimes I had pencilcases just for coloured pencils, textas and crayons and I kept the greyleads, erasers, scissors and gluesticks in a communal area for all students to access. I found this worked really well, as students were required to work together to keep all the resources clean and tidy for the whole class to use. Depending on the grade level, I’ve also had tubs on tables with coloured pencils, textas and crayons too, so there were no pencilcases in my classroom at all.

    I created book covers for each of my different subjects (usually an A4 size) and on the first few days of school, we spent a few minutes here or there colouring them in, so that students could personalise them. If students wanted their books covered in patterned contact, I simply attached it to the front of their book using a piece of clear contact. Unfortunately the ones I used to make were made using Microsoft Publisher before I used a Macbook, so here are some other ideas I found.

Notes from home:

  • Where will you collect permission notes, or late slips?
    I used to just have a pile of notes that I’d collect and then potentially lose them. I made myself a little mail box, so instead of giving notes to me, students would just slip them inside and I’d collect them all at the end of day when I wasn’t doing 20 other things and could deliver them to the office without getting distracted!
    I found that it was also important to designate a box in the classroom for Library Book Returns, so that if students brought their books back before our allocated day, there was somewhere to keep them safe.


Hope you’ve found this helpful – comment with any extra ideas that you have for helping set up a classroom!
(I could go on and on, but nobody likes to read a whole essay!)

Posted in displays

Building independence

This year, I was ‘promoted’ from a Year 2 class to a Year 4 class. I was excited at the higher level of independence I was going to see, the students’ ability to manage their own learning, more personal organisation and responsibility and an increased knowledge of how to listen and follow instructions.

I soon found out that I was living in a fantasy world. Maybe my class had too many exercise books, so it was difficult for them to figure out which book they needed to pull out. Maybe I hadn’t been explicit enough in my instructions. Maybe the task was simply too difficult. Maybe their previous teachers had let them use whatever book and whatever pencils they wanted and didn’t care. Maybe I was too pedantic and too much of a perfectionist.

Or maybe I just wanted my students to succeed. I had high expectations of them. I have high expectations of myself. So it was frustrating for me to learn that I wasn’t being explicit enough. Until my teacher aide said to me, “Fiona, you give some of the clearest instructions I have ever heard.”

I then realised that it wasn’t my fault. I have come to believe (and I am prepared to be wrong) that it is how the students are brought up. If they don’t turn the television down, mum will do it for them. If they don’t make their bed or pick up their dirty clothes, someone else will do it. The rubbish bin will always be out out, regardless of whose job it is. Where they relying on technology to tell them, for a bell to ring, for a whistle to sound? I was sick of being that person to constantly re-explain tasks, just because my students have rarely had to do it for themselves.

For one student in particular, his poor listening skills and inability to following instructions was beginning to wear very thin with me! I decided to invest in some posters that I found on a blog by First Grade Glitter and Giggles.. I edited them to make them more personalised and used language commonly used in my classroom.

I realise that this was reducing the amount of verbal instructions, but it began to make my students more independent. They had to use their eyes, their common sense and their independence. There were absolutely no excuses for not being able to understand the requirements of a task.

Teachers are too busy to constantly re-explain the simple elements of a task. Our time is too precious.

Have you come across any other terrific time-saving classroom displays?