Summer’s winding down, and it’s time to start thinking about setting up your classroom!

Yes, think about desk arrangements.

Yes count your book bins.

Definitely break out your label-maker, but let’s not start there.  

Instead, let’s step back and look at three tips to kick off your classroom set-up:


  • Create a calm and consistent classroom environment through COLOR


You want to create a warm and inviting classroom environment where your students can learn, so let’s not set them up to be distracted!  So much of the bulletin board and border paper on the market is, itself, distracting — too bright, too shiny, too patterned. Stick with the basics. Choose 2-3 consistent colors for your classroom, and use them across all of your bulletin boards to create a cohesive and calming environment. Get some ideas HERE and HERE! Want to learn more about how color affects mood- HERE’s some research!)


  • Think about FLOW and how students will be moving around your room


Imagine that you will be laying down walkways for all of the paths your students will be walking most frequently. Are these pathways:

  • Clear of obstacles (if they have to walk around the projector cart, will the projector get bumped and disconnected daily)?
  • Clear of distractors (will the students touch the computers and every time they go to gather their writing materials)?
  • Clear of traffic jams (are all of the students’ reading bins lined up on one shelf, setting the stage for pushing and chatting)?

Check out THIS great video on classroom choreography! Plan ahead, considering travel paths, to maximize efficiency, minimize distractions, and optimize classroom space.


  • Take your students’ VISUAL PERSPECTIVE


Sit on your rug. Sit in every desk. Look back at the board from where your students hand their backpacks. See what your students will see.  When you are on the rug looking up at where the lesson charts will be, what distractions are up there? What is competing with your students’ attention (teacher materials? computer screensavers? window to the playground outside?).As you set up your classroom, help your students focus by taking down anything unnecessary.

Not every student will have the same view from his/her desk, so think about your most distractible students.  What will she be looking at? Can she easily see the board, rather than turning around (which has the potential to lead to wandering eyes)? Is he looking up across all of the other students’ desks — potential for peer distraction rather than focus on work!  Can he see what he needs to pack for HW from his cubby? Strategic planning of classroom environment and layout can help set even our most vulnerable students up for success.

Setting up your classroom is about more than flashy posters and laminated charts. It’s about seeing around corners, sometimes literally, to help your students feel calm, successful, and independent in their new classroom. Get more ideas about setting up your classroom HERE and you can also even set up a virtual classroom!