Setting Up a New Classroom - The Autism Helper

Setting Up a New Classroom

Categories: Classroom Setup

Setting Up a New Classroom

The 2020-2021 school year was one I’ll never forget. Yes, we survived COVID, but my classroom survived so much more. This past year ended with both of my assistants and myself out for unexpected medical reasons (totally separate and independent of each other) for the entire 4th quarter. That left my classroom with only subs. Two sub assistants and a sub teacher. Did I mention I’m moving classrooms at the end of this year? And my entire classroom and office had to be packed and ready to move by the last day of school? And that I’m getting the largest caseload of kindergarteners of my career next school year? 

Sometimes you just have to let go and hope for the best, and that’s exactly what I did 4th quarter. A dear friend stepped up and packed my classroom. They managed my instruction, data, and assessments. It allowed me to rest and recover. I knew I was going to have a long summer ahead of me preparing my new classroom.

I walked into my classroom for the first time in months to find it empty and ready for our new social worker who will be taking the space. I said a silent goodbye to the classroom I’ve loved for the last 5 years. As I walked to my new classroom I could feel dread setting in. I knew what I would find but it didn’t make seeing it any different. Boxes upon boxes were stacked all over the classroom, my furniture all over. The reality set in that I was going to be setting up a new classroom.

Setting up a new classroom takes time, planning, and lots of thinking. I’m going to bring you along this summer as I start to set up my new classroom. Let’s get started with the layout.

Layout

Before I can even think about unpacking a box or moving furniture around, I have to think about how I want my classroom to function. The layout will determine so much of what happens and how well things flow in a classroom. The first thing I look for are safety concerns, especially for any kiddos who elope (and I have a few). In my new classroom there are two concerns and they are both doors. One door leads directly to the playground and one door leads to a hallway. I want to prevent behaviors, especially those behaviors that are potentially dangerous. The first thing that jumps out at me is that I need to make the door to the playground an indirect path from my working areas. However the path needs to be wide enough and clear enough that my students in wheelchairs and walkers can safely exit and enter. If students elope, I want to make it difficult for them to do so. This may mean using some sort of temporary divider that is easily moved by adults. 

Next I need to consider the things I can’t move. Doors, windows, and anything attached to the walls in this case. The promethean board is in a spot I wouldn’t have picked, but I need to make it work. It’s over near the door to the playground, making it more difficult to keep that exit safe from elopers. There is a massive whiteboard that is eight feet long opposite the promethean board. And there are two huge bulletin boards. With all of that combined, there is very little wall space for things to be hung up. 

Needs

Next up, I need to think about the needs we have in the classroom. I need a communication station for my related service providers, a space for my assistants to put their items, a space for centers, independent work, ABA cubbies, a spot for small group instruction, and a spot for whole group instruction. Now that I have a list of all the things I need, I can start laying out the room. To do so, I draw out the classroom on paper and mark all of the un-moveable items. Then I start brainstorming where to put things.

That’s where I’m at. I’m drawing and brainstorming ideas. I’m going to take my time figuring it out, and once I have it on paper, I’ll live with it for a few days before moving things into place. Classroom set up isn’t permeant. It can change as you go and change as your classroom needs change.

I’ll continue to share my classroom set up as I go this summer. With time, I’ll create a space my students, assistants and I love to be in that meets all of our needs. Here’s to a new adventure!

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