First day set up
Every year when I walk into a Kindergarten classroom and see furniture all heaped up to one side, every cupboard crammed with old teacher resources from bygone years, broken toys, school supplies past their prime…the visual clutter of it all overwhelms me and almost shuts me down before I have even started. I love to work in an organized, calm, and purposeful classroom and those first minutes walking in have sometimes stopped me in my tracks!
Over the years I have developed a plan that works for me. These are my steps to setting up efficiently.
The top 10 first things to do to set up your Kindergarten classroom
- Get in early if you can and go straight to your classroom. You will reward yourself later with a visit to your amazing colleagues. Bring your set up kit.
- Clean off a countertop or desk and put your kit there. That will be your command station.
- Clear a path to each of your bulletin boards. Get them covered, and put those borders on. Now you have only been there for an hour and you already have achieved something fantastic. You look and feel like a teacher that has their act together.
- Celebrate by going for a quick lap around the halls and say hi to your colleagues as you drink your tea or coffee. Give yourself a 15 minute timer and when it goes off, head right back to class.
- Move it! Check out that plan for furniture that you made. Drag that furniture around and see if your paper plan works. Try sitting on your read-aloud chair- can you still see what you need to see? (I like to see the bathroom doors and hand-washing station besides all the kid spots at the carpet with me. When I go to my guided work table, will I be able to see all the kids- even those working on the floor? Tweak it until you can!
- Do a pretend walk through. Start right at the door where you will welcome your students in. Make sure there is a clear path for them to go through the routine you want to have them follow. We realized in our classroom that having the lunch cubbies so close to the coat, shoe and backpack cubbies was making a bottleneck where our little friends were having trouble keeping their space and calmness. We ended up moving the lunch storage far from the area and it really helped us start our day more positively!
- Take another walk through the halls. In our school, if you have a piece of classroom furniture you no longer want, you place it in the hallway and it is up for grabs. I’m always on the lookout to upgrade or trade items! Because my students are so tiny I’m always trying to trade out my tall storage pieces for shorter ones. I’ve also been working to neutralize my classroom. Almost all my furniture was red, yellow and blue, and now it’s almost all natural wood! So chat and trade up if you can!
- Start matching up centres and their materials. Figure out where you will store things so students can access them as they play. Before you add them to the centre, clean each item. See how I clean toys throughout the year here. My goal in any new-to-me classroom is to go through and clean every cupboard and bin so I know what I have, and make sure that it is in usable condition. I clean whatever will be visible to students and parents and shove all the rest in a cupboard to deal with as the year goes by. Depending on the condition of the classroom it has sometimes taken me the full year!
- Label it up! If you already have a class list, then you can start using those labels you pre-printed. I label their coat cubby, lunch cubby, and their communication folders. I put the other labels by my teaching station so I can label the backs of each friend for the first few days. I put these on the kids when they arrive the first day of school and every morning that first week. I have extras for when supply or substitute teachers come in.
- Make a list. I take an inventory of what I need for the next day. This year I am still trying to eliminate plastic bins from some of our centres. I will be checking to see what I need to get that done. I make a list and I am done for the day. I usually make a stop at the Teacher’s Store or Dollarama on my way home!
You did it!
And that is it- first day done. I knew you could do it. Remember to stay hydrated and take some breaks. The more organized you are before the students arrive, then the more individual attention you can give them. You have got this!