Specifically, 10 things I wish I knew about setting up a classroom as a beginning teacher. 1. It will take far longer than you think. You may have it all mapped out in your head, but you will need a large amount of time to put it into action. If you can, get into the classroom at the end of the previous school year. Map it out in your head. Take the staples out of the wall if you can, and hang backing material. Trust me, it is far cooler (and easier) in December, rather than sweating it out late January. 2. Bring a bucket of hot, soapy water and cloths. Chances are those tote trays, maths equipment and book boxes are going to need a really good wash out. They are disgusting, and if you don't want to touch them, then neither will your students. 3. Bring needle nose pliers, music and something nice to drink. There is likely to be many, many staples in the walls. Even if you hang backing fabric, you will need to take them out so they don't ruin the effect of your display. 4. Don't be afraid to search the recycling bin for containers in your classroom. I know many teachers who have spent large amounts of money on containers for their classroom. Don't feel obliged to do so. In the beginning you are likely to be incurring many costs- from new clothes through to classroom supplies. Use clean tin cans, ice cream containers, margarine containers... the world is your oyster. Try emailing your class parents out, requesting these to be sent in. 5. Shop the Back-To-School sales. Buy a few extra of each style of exercise book your class will use. They are at ridiculously reduced prices, and you will undoubtedly have at least one child for whom purchasing new stationery is an issue. Take a look at the school stationery requirements. I teach in a Year 2 class, and work on the principle that the children will need at least 3 pencils per term (sounds like a lot). I purchase extras in the sales, and pop them in my 'prize box' and my stationery cupboard. Sometimes it just isn't worth the hassle of a request form being sent home. I also recommend to my class parents that during the sales is a good time to purchase extra writing books if they are financially able... it just makes sense! 6. Those paper display borders from the teacher supply store are a god-send. They really tidy up a display. After a few years of buying patterned borders, I am now purchasing bulk packs of plain colors. It is far more cost-effective and gives your classroom a more polished look. 7. Ask a friend to come in and help. Shifting furniture and clearing stuff out requires muscles, patience and time. Two heads are often better than one for making those decisions as well. Promise your friend a pizza lunch and drag them in to help you out. 8. Ask for help. You are not going to get it if you don't ask for it. 9. Hang backing fabric with push-pins first, then staple in place. It makes it way easier to correct errors. 10. You are not going to get everything you want done. Make sure you have a welcoming environment for your students on their first day, but realise that your classroom is a work in progress and you will just stress yourself out if you are setting the bar too high.
I find Math to be an absolute headache in terms of resource management. There is never enough resources, occasionally too many, and they are often in bad repair. This is why my next few posts are about Math resources. Enjoy! As I teach in NZ and follow the Numeracy Projects, place value houses are a common material to work with. I printed mine off A4 size from http://www.nzmaths.co.nz/sites/default/files/Numeracy/2007matmas/Bk4/MM%204_11.pdf . Each 'house' was copied onto a different coloured paper, and then cut out and laminated. I didn't cut them out again after laminating, as it made it easier to punch a hole in the corner and thread a ring through (are they 'magazine' rings?). My awesome set can now hang from the wall if there is space. No more scrunching up in the bottom of a drawer! They are also really quick and easy to unclip and use, then pack up again. I started off using a whiteboard pen to write the digits directly onto the laminated charts