This week, I started my ninth year of teaching. I’m at a new school in a new district, so of course I have a new room to set up. Classroom decor is a lot of fun for me, so I was excited to get in and start setting up!
The posters and labels I used in my classroom are from my Beach Theme Music Room Decor Kit. All of the decor was done on a tight budget. In the summer, beach gear and decor are easy to find at the dollar store. I bought fish nets, inner tubes, beach balls, and more for a dollar each. I made a beach ball garland by printing and laminating beach ball clipart, and hot gluing them to string. Decorating this classroom did not break the bank!
This week, I get to start working in my new music room, and I’m excited! New school, new room, new possibilities! Since this will be my ninth year teaching, I’ve learned a few lessons about classroom setup, and I’m sharing my top five tips.
TIP #1: GET A SNEAK PEEK.
As soon as you can, get into your classroom! Look around. See what resources you’ll have. Take pictures! Get pictures of the insides of closets and cabinets, the instruments you will have, and the different walls of your room. If you can, bring a tape measure, and record the dimensions of any bulletin boards, whiteboards, and shelves that you have.
TIP #2: MAKE A PLAN.
Remember those photos? They’ll be your best friend now! Use the photos as references to help you create a diagram of your classroom. You can draw this out on paper, or if you’re Type A like me, you can create one on your computer, like so.
I don’t have a lot of moveable furniture to work with, but if you use PowerPoint or Keynote to create your diagram, you can move around the shapes to see where you prefer different pieces of furniture. As you plan out where things will go, think about the flow of your lesson. Where will the students line up? Where will they sit? Play instruments? Play games? Where and how will they obtain supplies like pencils and whiteboards? You may change your mind about certain things and move them around once the school year begins, but it’s good to have a plan to start with.
TIP #3: OBTAIN SUPPLIES.
Okay, if you haven’t noticed yet, I’m a planner. I plan out every little thing I can, because it puts my mind at ease. If I know what I want to do with my classroom early enough in the summer, I have time to find the best deal for everything I need. I can search Dollar Tree, Target’s dollar spot, Walmart, Michaels, Party City, and my beloved Amazon for decorations, office supplies, and organizational tools. Use measurements of your bulletin boards to determine how many yards of fabric, plastic table cloths, and/or bulletin board borders you will need. Once you’ve obtained your decorations, and printed and laminated everything you need, put them in a box with a stapler, sticky tac, glue gun, and extension cord so that you’re ready to rock and roll.
TIP#4: PLAN TO STICK AROUND.
In addition to all of my setup supplies and decorations, I like to bring in a few other things for my own comfort. Setting up a classroom is long and hard work, so why not make it as pleasant as possible? Wear comfy clothes and shoes. Bring plenty of water and snacks (maybe even some extra caffeine?). To pass the time, I like to bring headphones to listen to music, podcasts, and audiobooks on my phone. Most importantly? Bring a fan. Many classrooms are HOT, especially when school isn’t in session yet. That fan should follow you like a shadow around your classroom as you work.
TIP #5: ACCEPT ANY HELP.
Some teachers are lucky enough to have friends or family who are able to help them set up. If that is the case for you, take them up on the offer! They can staple borders to your bulletin boards, stick decorations on the wall, and be an extra set of hands for moving furniture. Buy them some coffee in the morning and some lunch on your break to show them appreciation for their awesomeness.
Hopefully, these tips will help make your classroom setup as smooth as possible. You will spend countless hours in your classroom this school year, so I hope you can make it a cheerful, functional space!
Welcome to my classroom! I thought I would take you on a tour of how I set up, organized, and decorated my classroom this year. It’s my second year in this classroom, so I was able to brainstorm over the summer to see what I wanted to change up from last year.
COOL DOWN AREA
When you first enter my classroom, this is on the left. The table is the cool down area. This is where students go to calm down and reflect on their behavior. For more information about behavior consequences in my classroom, you can watch this video. http://bit.ly/2DnlVJP
Next is the word wall. On the shelves are most of the classroom instruments, and some other supplies, like pencils, crayons, and dry erase boards and markers. The baskets are from the Dollar Tree, and the clear bins are from Walmart. I wanted to label all of my storage, so I hot glued labels on the bins, and used binder rings to attach labels to the baskets. On the bottom right shelf are most of my picture books, though there are many more in my sub tub. I have a picture book obsession, and I’m not sorry!
To the left of the whiteboard is our behavior wall. We have a few school-wide systems in place, which need to be represented in each classroom. Our PBIS rules, our Kids at Hope pledges, and other school-specific programs are in this prominent place, where the students can always see the expectations. I also added some paper lanterns on the wall. In my district, we aren’t allowed to hang anything from the ceiling, so I improvised by attaching them to the wall.
Below is the view from the risers. My students sit on Wenger Flip Forms, so that they can see the whiteboard, behavior expectations, and word wall from their seats. When we do movement activities, we walk around behind the risers to the big open space behind them, so that we have plenty of space to move. To the left of the whiteboard is our Points Chart, where classes earn points for being safe, respectful, and responsible. If they earn at least 25 points in a quarter, they get 20 minutes (half a period) of choice time, where they vote on their favorite music class activities. If they earn at least 50 points, they get an entire class period (40 minutes) of choice time. This is usually very good motivation for my classes to work hard.
Above the whiteboard are our Curwen hand signs posters. Our visual music schedule is always displayed on the right side of the whiteboard, using magnet tape. I keep the extra schedule cards in the blue basket on top of the piano. The objectives are always posted in dry erase pockets by grade level, so that I can quickly switch them as needed. The little white cart underneath the objectives is from Michaels, and it is where I keep the manipulatives and materials I need for the week’s lessons.
On the right wall are my bulletin boards and more percussion instruments. I like to keep maps available so we can reference where a song, musician, composer, or dance is from. The composer bulletin board changes every two months, but it’s always a set from Music with Sara Bibee. You can find this bulletin board kit by following this link. http://bit.ly/2F07sEp
Along the back wall is where we keep our Orff instruments. I had one extra Flip Form, so I put it to use storing xylophones on it. I labeled each instrument, and put our Orff instrument expectations on the wall above them. My favorite part about this section? My husband Steve was kind enough to rewrap most of the mallets. He’s a keeper!
That’s about it for my classroom tour. Most of what you see on the walls is included in my Rainbow Dots Music Room Decor Bundle, which you can shop here http://bit.ly/2DUtsRA. Once I finish organizing my storage closet, I’ll give you a tour of that, as well! Before I go, here’s another look at my classroom in the midst of setting it up this July. What do you like about your classroom/cart setup and decor? What would you like to change?