Classroom Decor

set up classroom

If this year is your first year teaching, you may already have your room’s setup done. Mainly, because you love the idea of the first classroom of your career.

But as the year and years come and go, you’ll notice what is needed for the smooth sailing of your day.  What about classroom traffic? Where will supplies be available? Are books easy to find? What about seating arrangements and paper load? No doubt you have one or more mentors assisting you with many good ideas that have worked for them.

Let me be your humble mentor here as you set up your classroom.IMG_3718My family came for a school event and wanted to see my room. They surprised me when they complimented me on how my classroom was cute and fun. I always thought it lacked so much in style.   But red bookcases displayed books and magazines galore inviting kids to read. Evocative pictures on the wall requested them to take a second look.

IMG_3719 Years ago I found this idea of a book summoning a student to read it. It was drawn on the cover of a pamphlet for a reading convention. I enlarged it from an overhead projector onto art paper and painted it. It was the first thing you’d see when you walked into the classroom.school classroom_0001_NEW

The Main Thing to strive for is Charm with Function. Does the classroom invite the student to relax and wonder? Is the setup a place where it is easy to find books, workbooks, dictionaries, journals, pencils, crayons etc.?school classroom_NEWThe red “book case” is easily constructed of particle board with moulding attached to hold magazines and picture books.

A new school year is an adventure of success and failure which can be parodied, satired, and even drawn such as in this awesome poster called The Journey. Kids stand before it figuring out where they are in their upward destination.

The Journey PosterLook here for imaginative, inspiring boards for your classroom→Bulletin Board ideas

A new cookie sheet, pop-up craft paper for letters,  red flags and magnetic clips— your pencil problem is solved! I would even say,  “No one leaves the room until all the pencils are lined up.”  Ha, ha.

                                   need a pencil







A functioning seating arrangement allows you to access each student quickly so you may help her with the assignment or quash any misbehavior budding in that part of the rank and file of the floor plan.

seating arrangementThis teacher’s plans cover all the  “→what’s needed?←” for a well-oiled classroom’s seating system.→→→→

Ryan Gosling attending the 'Blue Valentine' Photocall during the 63rd Cannes Film Festival in Cannes, France on May 18, 2010. Photo by Hahn-Nebinger-Orban/ABACAUSA.COM (Pictured: Ryan Gosling) 63rd cannes film festival - blue valentine photocall

A clean desk inspires you to create your best lesson plans.clean deskHere are more great classroom decor ideas.

The mother lode of classroom function is found in Helene Segura’s Less Stress for Teachers.Helene Segura teaches you how to deal with disorganization, how to organize, get rid of clutter as well as covering paper load, handouts, and space management.



The First Days of School

Back to School LogoThe first days back to school are always fun. There are many expectations that THIS year is the students’ golden year to succeed in academics, gain better friends, achieve personal best in sports and arts, and earn more privileges as they mature.

I could hardly wait for the first day to start and I was the teacher!  I had awesome activities that were fun, easy to do, and gently inclusive.

Here are the best five “opening day” ice-breakers that will thrill classes and thrill you because you’ve got Day One  checkoff!

#1  Your Group’s Statistics

stick-figure-stick-man-statistics-growing-graph-billboard-vector-illustration-pointing-39394875Have the kids number off–watch that friends don’t change places so they can be a 5 because their friend is also a 5.  There should be 5-6 kids per group.  Hand out the Statistics survey and give the kids time to fill out the sheet.  Tell the kids to find out who’s the oldest and he/she will be the leader.

#2. Another favorite is the Scar Story. scars Scar Stories give students a rousing topic to detail their lifes’ emergencies.

#3 Take your class away with the Deserted Island activity.

deserted island#4 And here’s a true handout: Toilet Paper GameToilet paper.

#5. The Toss and Talk Ball–throw it to a student and he answers the question under his right thumb. Check it out here.

 # Extra fun. Move into categories.  The class divides along category lines such as brown eyes, blue eyes, laced up shoes, sandals, etc. Fun times.


Classroom management tips: The Elephant in the Classroom.


The Elephant in the Classroom

It is August.

Do you know where your class management plan is? Take my word for it.  For every August, 25 of them,  I lived through dozens of classroom management plans.

Now I am retired and have the luxury of reflection and can say– I blew it!

From my experience, classroom MISmanagement, like an elephant in the classroom, upstaged any lesson I   planned for students to be synced to my brilliant objective for the day.

Yes, such attentive students were there on the spot the first school days in August.

But as time went on–like September 1st, they checked out of attention and checked in with their fellow pilgrims about what’s up: their teachers, clothes, nails, hair, shoes, backpacks, gossip, music, phones, and who’s who with whom.

Once their brains absorbed the demographics of their classroom, they confidently pushed against any classroom boundaries set for them. That is how junior high students roll–the opinion of their peers is way more important than academics.

One day I googled “classroom management”and I hit the jackpot!   The pay out comes from a blog by Michael Linsin loaded with  sterling strategies for peaceful, learning classrooms. — http://www.smartclassroommanagement.com.

The posts are easy to read with instant common sense information you need to have a Dream Class.

1. How To Set The Tone On The First Day Of School

2. Effective-classroom-management-pla

3. A Classroom Management Plan That Works

4. A Simple, Effective Homework Plan For Teachers: Part 1

5. A Simple, Effective Homework Plan For Teachers: Part 2

6. Why A Letter Home Is An Effective Consequence

7. The Not-So-Secret To Effective Classroom Management

8. Eight-things-teachers-do-to-encourage-misbehavior

9. Why-observation-should-be-your-first-response-to-misbehavior

10. A Fun Way To Get Your Students To Follow Directions 

11.How To Save Yourself A Mountain Of Stress And Misbehavior

12. Why You Should Never Show Annoyance At Misbehavior

13. Why Micromanagers Make Bad Teachers

14. Why Boredom Is A Leading Cause Of Misbehavior And How To Cure It In Two Minutes

The above links will get you started with his great philosophy and plan for well behaved classes. Mr. Linsin is an excellent elementary school teacher so some of his consequences for misbehavior might seem too young to work in junior high or high school. For example, a  prime consequence in third grade is to remove a misbehaving student to another part of the classroom where he/she cannot participate.

Because some readers of his blog have asked him what about junior high, he said he writes for everyone but he has no time to create a junior high plan but that his ideas are for the most part universal and adaptable.

Yes, I would use the same plan for middle school students. There are obvious differences in how you speak and interact with older students, and some routines are different. But handling behavior remains the same. Other than minor age-related adjustments, there is no particular strategy I recommend that is exclusive to middle school students.

Lastly, if you already have your plan in place and it runs like a BMW, then that is great.  If you have your plan in place but things start to unravel around September 15th, then click on this link. smartclassroommanagement.com Losing-control-of-your-classroom.  There is always a chance to start over. I should know–I am a pro at starting over.

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