You are in the pre-planning stage of classroom setup. It’s time to brainstorm and get your head right. These 20 questions will help guide your decisions and classroom setup.
1. How many adults do you have?
This will drastically shift your classroom setup because the more adults you have – the more centers you can have! If you are low on staff you will need to plan on having bigger groups of kids and more independent work. (insert sad face emoji…)
2. How many groups can you organize your students into based on ability and level of independence?
You may not know your students yet but get your hands on those IEPs and start playing around with some potential groupings based on IEP goals and behavior needs. You can always change them later but start to see how many groups you can get your classroom into so you will know how many centers you need. You can’t have 5 groups of students and only 4 centers in your room (where is that last group going to be?!!?)
4. Are your students working on more basic/foundational skills or academic or a mix of both?
Again you may not know this but this is something to start to think about. If your group is pretty diverse (like many of our classrooms are!), you will just need to plan for additional space and storage within the room.
5. Do any of your students have a one on one aide?
Those one on one aides are off limits on running a class wide center (bc they will need to be with their student at all times), but ensure there is either a dedicated space for that student and aide (if they need maximum structure) or space within each center as they rotate around the room.
6. Will you be having a desk for each student?
You don’t need to! Flexible seating is all the rage these days and I must say – I am proud for being ahead of the trend 😉 You’ll be able to fit more centers in your room if you don’t have a dedicated desk for each student. More on this to come.
7. What type of independent work system will you use?
This is the backbone of your class. Most classes don’t have the luxury of a perfect ratio of adults to students so more than likely your students will be doing a decent amount of independent work. Which is fine! We need to teach them to work alone. Check out my super, space saving independent work system here. More on this to come as well 🙂
8. What other independent activities can your students do?
You’ll need more than just task boxes! Think about drawing, puzzles, games, books, etc. What else can your kids do on their own?
9. Will you have a teacher desk?
Again – you don’t need one! Save space and avoid the desk clutter!
10. Will you be cooking with your class?
If you will be cooking to work on social skills, following directions, life skills, literacy, (shall I go on? Read more here.)
11. How many student will your biggest group be?
Check back in on those groups you started making earlier. How big is your biggest group? Each center needs to be big enough for at least the many. Spoiler alert: your kids will each need a chair when a group is at a center!
12. What’s your sensory approach?
Are you a sensory center person? Sensory choice board? Sensory bins? Sensory break area? How are you working your students sensory needs into your day? Dang – this became a lot of question. Get those wheels turning!
13. Do you have any students who are aggressive?
If so you may want your break area to be a safe space. Think limited hard surfaces, soft dividers, not large toys/objects, lots of floor mats. It’ll only take on time of getting hit in the head with an etch-a-sketch to rethink your break area. #truestory
14. Do you have any students who are runners?
This will significantly alter your classroom setup. Think maze. Think blockades. Think multiple opportunities to grab him as he runs to the door. Obviously we aren’t blocking the door or anything like that and yes we will be working on a function based intervention for this but in the meantime – make things easier on yourself – don’t leave a clear path to that doorway.
15. How can you keep things age appropriate?
Are you a junior high teacher? Get those primary colored plastic chairs outta there! Are you preschool? Load up on everything cute and adorable. Check out the grade level equivalent rooms and echo that vibe.
16. What technology will you have access to?
Do you have a smartboard, iPads, computers? Plan how you will be using these, storing this, and keeping them safe in case of emergency.
17. Where will students keep coats and backpacks?
Closet? Lockers? Hanging on the backs of chairs is kind of my pet peeve because – hellooooo, distracting and messy! If this is your only option, brainstorm ways to keep things a little more neat and tidy!
18. Where will you store your resources?
This is one of the trickier parts of our jobs. We spend all of this time and money making all of these amazing resources and then we completely forget that we have them. I don’t know how many times I have pulled something out months after the holiday or the time I was working on the skill. Or we end of wasting so much time looking for the right resource when we need it. You need an easy to use and simple system of organizing your materials so you can find them when you need them quickly! Check out these posts: file folder organization, sort organization, and worksheet organization.
19. Where will you store extra materials?
Same with our resources, you have to find some space for extra markers, pens, construction paper, and all that stuff! Having everything out in your classroom is a perfect recipe for a gigantic mess. Pack up what you aren’t using!
20. What budget will you give yourself for classroom setup?
This is such a loaded question. I try to give myself a budget for classroom setup so I don’t end up being the only person able to spend $300 dollars at the Target dollar spot alone. Yes we may need to spend some money on our classroom during this process but giving some guidelines, helps me from getting out of control…. (somewhat….)