10 Steps to Setting Up Your Classroom For the New Year

It is the start of the school year and you have so much to do. You might be a brand new teacher, have changed year levels and classrooms or be looking to arrange your classroom in a different year to last year. You walk into your empty shell of a classroom, the cleaners have been through and piled everything in the corner and you might be wondering just what to do! Don’t be overwhelmed – this is when the fun starts!

Personally, I have either changed schools, grade levels or classrooms every year but one, so after doing this a few times, I finally have a system down pat, that works for me every year! Following this system means I am not spending all day, everyday at school towards the end of the summer vacation and ensures I have a smooth start to every school year.
Step 1. Cleaning
If you are moving classrooms, or staying in the same classroom as last year, it doesn’t hurt to open every cupboard up and see where everything is. You may rearrange the coloured paper to suit your needs, separate the maths and literacy resources (I like to have different areas) or maybe just give the cupboards a quick tidy. It is during this step, I like to look at the bulletin boards and remove any remnant staples or thumb tacks. This is the day I always get dirty from so much cleaning!
Step 2. Bringing In Your Resources
Bring in your bigger resources from the car or the storeroom. Do you have shelves, cushions or other bigger furniture that you need to place in the classroom. Look at the sizes of furniture.  

Step 3. Where Is Your Desk?
How are you going to use the desk in your classroom? Where does you desk need to be placed? Do you need to connect to an IWB or Smartboard? Will you sit at it during the day (so does it need to face the students) or can you have it against the wall?
Step 4. Creating Spaces
Think about what spaces you want to create in your classroom. Do you want a reading corner? An independent writing space?  Classroom Library? Morning Maths space? Computer/ICT space? Some of these you will be confined to. During this step, sort out where your floor sitting area/s will be. I like to have two, one in front of the IWB or Smartboard and one in front of the Morning Maths board. Roughly create your spaces, not setting up areas until Step 5 is complete.
Step 5. Tables
Place your tables out in the classroom. How do you want your children to be seated? In table groups or in rows? Think about the direction the children will be sitting at each location, what their view is, can they see the board easily and is there enough space around each table. Once you are happy with your arrangement, check your other spaces in the room to make sure you have enough room for the extra furniture.
Step 6. Unpack Resources
Unpack your bigger resources, setting up your classroom library, organising your maths resources onto shelves etc. Don’t worry about student resources (books, pencils, crayons etc.) at this stage.

Step 7. Bulletin Boards
Now I have my spaces organised in the classroom I like to put up my bulletin board fabrics. I have found simple poplin the easiest to use. It doesn’t fade and can be taken down at the end of the year, washed and rehung the next year. You do need to cut it to size though. Fabrics and borders go up and I start to see how the colours are going to look in the room. I put some posters up (like Alphabet cards and number cards) but like to add things as I go with the children – eg. Anchor charts, student work etc.
Step 8. Student Tubs and Book Boxes
Usually by this stage I know what my classroom theme is and have been working on posters etc. at home. I will have my class list and make up name labels for individual tubs (including teacher resources if required), book boxes and bag boxes. I use clear contact for my tubs and bag boxes (easy to peel off at the end of the year and stay looking neat all year) and laminate my book box labels.
Step 9. Stationery Supplies
If children have individual pencils cases then you can skip this step. Alternatively, decide if you are going to have a writing implement station for children to collect pencils, markers, crayons, glue sticks and scissors from, or will you store the supplies on the tables in tubs? I like having cups with resources and put them on tables each day.
Step 10. Lesson Planning
The whole classroom set up usually takes me a couple of days by the time I change my mind and move things around. I am also very particular about ensuring there is enough space everywhere (including group sitting and sitting in a circle). Depending on when I have been allowed into my classroom, sometimes my lesson planning is done at home before I can get into school, or I do it once my room is ready. By then I am in the school swing of things and am not in vacation mode.

I hope this has been helpful! Good luck!

Here are some of my products that can help kick start your new year!




  1. This will be me on the 27th! Brand new school, new class, and new year level! Gosh it's exciting and daunting all at the same time!! In 9 years of teaching I've been in a different classroom EVERY year!

    Learning to be awesome

    1. I know exactly how you feel Erin! Good luck with setting everything up for the new room! Definitely exciting!

  2. Great post and fabulous advice. I am almost at move 30!

    1. Move 30 is about 20 too many for as long as you have been teaching!

  3. Here in the U.S., I'm into very cold temps and my fifth month of school. I'm home today with a sick daughter. Reading your post was fun! I got to share in some of the back-to-school excitement! Have a great year.
    Laughter and Consistency

    1. Haha! It is funny when our school systems are the opposite! We have to move with the seasons I guess!

  4. What a great post. It is very informative with pragmatic steps for set-up. I just love seeing photos of your fabulous room. It must have been so hard changing rooms so often.

    Emma :)

    1. Thanks Emma for your lovely comments. It is hard work, but exciting at the same time!

  5. Thank you so much for this post. I am a big "checklist" person, and often need a plan of action before I begin working on a project. This is very helpful!

  6. Thank you for posting this!!! I am going into my first year of teaching and couldn't be more excited (or nervous). I'm super happy I got kindergarten :)

    Do you have any tips on lesson planning for the first few weeks?? I student taught in 2nd grade and feel like I know nothing about kindergarteners. I am hoping my great team will allow me to use their plans as a guide for a couple of weeks or until I get the hang of things. Hopefully that isn't considered inappropriate for a newbie :/

    As you can see, any advice you have would be so greatly appreciated! Thanks again!!

    1. Roberta Emery, Rhode Island25 August 2015 at 09:19

      Good Luck Taylor. Kinder Kiddos are great. Your first two weeks should be all about your routines, your transitions and such. Spend a great deal of time teaching, rehearsing and all out practicing...once they get it...academics will come along...get them believing in the power of their own unique "community". If you are not sure of your routines and such...sit in your classroom and think out each and every move...how will they line up for lunch? How will they line up for dismissal? How do they get from their seats to the rug and vice versa. and ALWAYS...seek out information on "building wide routines/transitions"...what does the fire drill look like? What about lockdown drills? There are soo many things. Last bit of advice...keep a notebook to journal in at night...write what went well and why you think/know it did...what went so different from your expectations (never say "wrong" because mistakes ARE how we ALL learn)?? Map out the layout of your room and think on it from time to time...make adjustments as needed. Have a wonderful time learning from your kiddos!!

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