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10 Best Classroom Setup Ideas Every Teacher Needs to Know to Be Successful

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Example layout of a classroom setup idea.

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A new school year means new beginnings, new adventures, new friendships and new challenges. The slate is clean and anything can happen.

If you’re anything like parenting author Denise Witmer, you share the same sentiment.

The beginning of the school year means a fresh group of students. Maybe this year it means a new classroom space as you switch grade levels or schools.

The new school year is also a chance to rethink your classroom setup. The flow and function of your classroom can be designed with your students in mind by asking questions like:

  • What will help them learn best?
  • What will minimize distractions?
  • What will give them the best chance for success?

We’ve gathered together our favorite tips to help you get your classroom set up for the year, ready to tackle whatever challenges come your way.

What are the benefits of a good classroom layout?

Classroom filled with rows of empty desks.

There are so many activities that happen inside a classroom!

You organize and facilitate instruction, small group work, independent activities — the list goes on.

And with the right classroom setup, your space will be able to accommodate all of those functions in a way that best supports you and your students. 

Classrooms are often high-traffic zones and, depending on the time of year, they can experience a lot of transitions. In order to make sure nothing gets lost in the shuffle, organization in your classroom is key.

From lesson plans to graded homework and everything in between, each subject and lesson that you teach is important. And a good classroom layout will help keep students on task and make classroom management much easier.

At the end of the day, your students (and their learning) are the most important goal — and a good classroom layout promotes this.

Top 10 classroom setup ideas that promote learning

1. Use flexible seating

Flexible seating can be a game-changer in your classroom.

Not only can flexible seating help students concentrate, but it also gives them more power over their learning environment. They’re able to listen to their body and choose a method of sitting that helps them learn best.  

Before your students come in for the year, determine where you can best use flexible seating.

Do you have access to different types of seats? Can you move seats around? If so, when and where can seats be rearranged? 

This seating flexibility from you can help your students focus, but it’s also important to consider the flow of the classroom (and keeping walkways clear).

Knowing the limits of flexible seating options in your classroom will allow you to set clear boundaries and expectations.

2. Set up differentiation stations

Differentiation stations are a great way to increase student engagement in the learning process.

These stations cater to each student’s academic level, instead of delivering a one-size-fits-all task to everyone.

Based on their current levels of understanding, you provide students with relevant activities that are challenging, yet keep them within their zones of proximal development.

You can use differentiation successfully through different levels of packets. Or, simplify the process with a guided learning program like Prodigy Math or Prodigy English.

See 3 easy steps to differentiate using Prodigy

3. Experiment with different desk setups on paper

Sometimes all the furniture, student desks, chairs, bookshelves — all of it — can seem too overwhelming to touch.

Or you might push, pull and lift all day long just to decide that you liked the original classroom layout from the beginning of the day. 

It’s hard to really know how all the dimensions will work out until you actually move the desks and furniture, but starting a plan on paper can be helpful.

Consider different desk configurations such as horizontal rows, vertical rows, circles, clusters, or all spread out.

Think about the different activities that students will perform during the day as they sit in these configurations. Here are a couple of questions that might help:

  • Which option leads to the least amount of rearranging?
  • What layout is the best for students to be able to reach all areas of the room?

Give a few options a try! Soon enough, you’ll land on a perfect classroom setup that caters to your teaching style and your students’ needs.

4. Make classroom organization a priority

A well-organized white board with dry erase markers and an eraser.

Classroom organization is the key to not losing assignments, lesson plans, manipulatives and, quite frankly, your sanity.

There are many moving pieces to a classroom — especially if you’re teaching in a space that has different groups of students every period. All the coming and going can add to the classroom chaos.

To keep your room organized, make sure your materials and resources are clearly labeled.

You can also set clear expectations with students about their role in keeping the classroom organized and orderly.

Remember, you’re all in this together and an organized classroom will benefit everyone.

5. Create a classroom library

Fostering a love of reading in our students is always a primary goal.

Reading can unlock a student’s potential and help create a lifelong love of learning.

So, no matter which grade level or subjects you teach, it’s always a great idea to create a classroom library.

A classroom library gives your students quick and easy access to books throughout their day. And adding a reading area nearby your library can provide a quiet space for students who need something to do.

It also offers some nice, extra encouragement for your students to read more.

6. Prioritize the front of the classroom

Elementary school teacher at the front of class smiling at a student in the front row.

Think about what you want your students to focus on. What do you want them to remember most from their day? Put those things at the front of the classroom.

Be mindful of the posters and learning material that you put up front. Make sure they are hand-picked as covering the most important topics.

It’s natural to think that your teacher’s desk should go at the front of the room, but consider all the activities that will happen in your classroom first.

Depending on how often your students come to your desk, consider moving the desk somewhere else if it makes more sense.

7. Foster a welcoming environment 

A great way to welcome your students is to have their names posted somewhere in the classroom.

Find ways to personalize their desks or the classroom decorations.

Birthday signs are another great personalization option.

Recognizing your students as individuals lets them know that they’re special and you enjoy having them in your classroom.

8. Set up your entry and exit points

Kindergarten classroom setup example.

Safety is the first priority when setting up the entry and exit points of your classroom.

You want to create a welcoming environment, but doorways should always remain clear of any obstacles.

View your entry point as the beginning of your classroom’s flow. Think about how your students will come into the classroom and begin their day:

  • Does anything impede the influx of traffic?
  • What is the best layout of furniture directly after the entry point?

Your classroom’s entry point is also a great place to think about any daily classroom habits or traditions you hope to have. Would you like to have a mood check-in chart? Or a positive thought of the day.

Experiment with how you can greet your students without creating a clog in your flow.

9. Decorate last

From birthday posters and plants in the windows to bulletin board displays, adding decorative touches can often seem like the most fun part of setting up your classroom.

But ultimately, classrooms need to be functional.

So first, focus on all the big pieces. Place the furniture, establish your various stations, and think through spots for direct instruction.

Then, once your classroom is set up to do all the primary tasks needed, hang up all those classroom decorations that fit your classroom theme!

10. Embrace making changes

Elementary students doing work at a group of desks.

As much as you try to anticipate every issue, there will always be things that pop up that you can’t plan for.

During these times, you’ll need the flexibility to adapt your classroom to your students’ specific needs.

It’s totally ok to rework your room! There’s nothing wrong with leaving behind your original idea for a better one.

It won’t take you long to find the right groove, and you’ll feel confident knowing your classroom is exactly how it needs to be — for now.

How a good classroom setup can impact your entire school year

With a great classroom set-up, you can get ready to kick off those first day of school activities, knowing that your classroom will be a fun place for learning this year.

Your space will be more productive, inviting, and functional because you’ve taken the time to set it up well.

Keep the energy and fun of your classroom going strong with Prodigy!

Its game-based learning tools can support you and your students throughout the year.

Our games teach math and English in a way that’s engaging and fun for students, bringing an individualized approach and meeting them exactly where they are.

Prodigy’s games are a great complement to your lesson plans and a time saver as you track students’ progress.

Click below to learn more about Prodigy’s teacher tools, and have your best year yet!

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