Setting up your Classroom: Equipment Storage
Did you know that the set up of your classroom, including how you store your equipment, can greatly impact student learning? But before you run out the door and start buying “all the things”, find out what is already available to you, plan out your space (read about desk and furniture arrangement here) and then plan how you want to organise your equipment.
Organising your equipment is just as important as organising your furniture and students’. Your first year will probably seem the hardest because you’ll be creating lessons from scratch and establishing your style. And it can be tempting to want to create the ‘Pinterest Perfect’ room that is the envy of all your colleagues. But don’t get bogged down in that. Instead, focus on creating an environment that has clear procedures and expectations, is organised and structured. Not only will this help you, but it will help your students.
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SETTING UP YOUR CLASSROOM: REDUCE, REUSE AND RECYCLE
It can be so tempting to stock up on things when there’s a SALE sign in front of it. I mean, aren’t you saving money? But the reality is you may find that you’ve just added to an already large pile of things that rarely get used in your classroom. So before you hit the post-Christmas Sales, head into your classroom and make a list of the things you DO have, and what you NEED. You may find that you have a SmartBoard and don’t need to stock up on the whiteboard markers. You may find some old book boxes in a storeroom that can be used to hold student books. There may even be some old board games and prize box materials lying around unused (grab them while you can!!!)
The next thing is to then consider HOW and WHEN you’ll be using each piece of equipment or resource. You may want to store certain things out of the way for occasional use. Art supplies, maths resources and sports equipment aren’t used on the daily. But other things you may have out on display and within easy reach for you and your students. These could include notebooks, books in your class library and stationery items such as rulers, a sharpener etc.
Finally, locate the electrical outlets, internet point and technological devices such as projectors in your room. This will ultimately help you decide where your larger pieces of furniture, such as teacher desks and technology stations will go. Then, you can place your learning centres, desks and bookcases to store and utilise your equipment.
SETTING UP YOUR CLASSROOM: STUDENT BOOK STORAGE
When it comes to storing student books, I like to use magazine book boxes. It keeps them neat and tidy, and easily accessible. It also reduces the risk of them being lost in the student tub abyss!!!
Storing student books in the magazine boxes also reduces the traffic jam that can occur when students are asked to get their books. I find that it helps to keep the room tidy and organised – and it looks pretty too! Print labels off to match your classroom decor and place the boxes along the side of your room. I like to colour code my student’s books for easy recognition. I match the subject colours to the curriculum colours (i.e. Light Blue – English; Orange – Maths etc.). You can have students create their book covers using butchers paper and paints, before covering them with clear contact. Younger students will enjoy doing potato-print paintings. Primary students will enjoy creating their covers using techniques such as marble, splatter, bubble and watercolour painting. This is also a great differentiation strategy, as it provides a visual cue for students that can be linked to class timetables.
SETTING UP YOUR CLASSROOM: CLASSROOM LIBRARY
A classroom library is a key component of your classroom where literacy is fostered. It is a place of important student work. It should provide access to a variety of quality literature, be a warm and inviting space that is well organised and contains age-appropriate supplies and furniture.
Before setting up your library, I highly suggest labelling your books!!! A simple stamp that states this book is from your library works really well and makes the process quick and easy. However, you can also just write your name inside the cover of every book. You might also want to write it on the side of the book across the pages. Then parents will be able to easily spot the book as one that needs to be returned to the classroom.
Setting up your Classroom: Organising your Library
When creating your classroom library, you’ll first need to decide how you’ll display your books. I like to make sure younger students can see the covers, so I try and access early-childhood shelving or bookstands. For primary and high school students, space can become an issue so I usually try and ensure the spines of books are clearly shown, or that they’re in baskets with large, clear labels that identify the genre/topic etc. If you have magazines, brochures or other such items that don’t stand well on their own, consider using a pocket chart mounted to the back of your classroom door, or hang it on a wall in your library space. And if you rotate your books, grab yourself a set of good quality stackable containers to store and organise them when they’re not out on display.
You will then need to decide on how to sort your books. There are many ways you can do this, and each has its benefits. You can sort by:
- Levelled Readers; and
- Guided reading levels.
I tend to steer clear of sorting by level as I want students to decide if the book they choose is right for them. This also mimics what occurs in libraries, book stores and general shops. Students need to learn how to browse and choose an appropriate text for themselves. Not levelling texts encourages students to check out different texts and topics.
Check out the links below for some great products to create your perfect classroom library.
SETTING UP YOUR CLASSROOM: MATHS, ART, MUSIC AND SPORT EQUIPMENT STORAGE
Some classrooms have their own storage room attached. Others are not so lucky. I’ve been in both – and in both cases, you need to figure out a system for storing and accessing resources that are subject-specific.
Stackable containers and plastic draw sets are great for storing maths manipulatives, your centre/choice tubs, music instruments and basic supplies such as pencils, crayons etc. You can get ones that are divided, which are perfect for storing dice, coins and other small pieces you’ll use. Command Hooks are great for hanging number lines, display posters and sports bags.
Sports equipment is tricky to keep organised. I like using baskets with sturdy handles to keep the balls organised. This also means that students can easily carry them to and from sports activities. Hoops, skipping ropes and tags can be grouped together using velcro and hooks.
Ensure you clearly label everything so that you, your students and visitors to your classroom can easily access what they need, and replace it when they’re finished.
SETTING UP YOUR CLASSROOM: TEACHER EQUIPMENT STORAGE
Whether you use your teacher desk as your space, or you utilise it and other desks to create learning spaces within your classroom, you need to keep these areas organised.
Having an organised workspace takes three easy steps. Before you put anything on your desk, reflect upon how you need your workspace to function. Second, you have to be intentional about creating a workspace that will work for you. Once you’ve done these two steps, you’ll then have to maintain it – daily.
The next thing to do is think about what you want to accomplish there. Plan out HOW you’ll use the space – grading papers, making phone calls, writing lesson plans, emails, meetings etc. Then make a list of all the things you’ll need to accomplish your desired tasks. You’ll usually have pens, sticky-notes and storage for student information within easy, quick reach on your desk. Other items, such as assessment folders and worksheets may be stored in a draw-trolley or filing cabinet near your desk.
Finally, you’ll need to remember to spend 5 minutes at the end of your day tidying and decluttering your desk, so that it’s ready for whatever comes your way the next day. Not only is this something that will aid in the day-to-day management of your classroom, but it is also a form of teacher self-care. Having a clean, tidy and organised space to come to every day will help you feel calm and in control – no matter what happens.
SETTING UP YOUR CLASSROOM: ORGANISED EQUIPMENT STORAGE
Organisation is the key to a smooth-running classroom. Organising the spaces in your classroom is also a way of differentiating and catering to the needs of your students. It helps students know what to expect and gives them structure when working.
So, tell me, is organisation something that comes naturally to you? What tips do you have for keeping your classroom equipment organised and manageable? I’m always looking for new ideas, so I’d love to hear what works for you! For other FREE classroom resources and freebies, sign-up below for teaching ideas to land in your inbox each month.