NQT boot camp: five things to remember about setting up a classroom

27th July 2016 at 14:23
Classroom
In the first part of her summer advice series for newly qualified teachers, teacher educator Sarah Wright shares her tips for preparing and creating a learning environment

The excitement of finally getting your own classroom can be overwhelming. Whether you have been hoarding supplies all through your PGCE or are about to embark on a summer shopping spree, you will no doubt be keen to make your mark on your new temple of learning. 

Here are a few things for you to think about:

  1. Consider the needs of all learners

    When you are setting up your classroom, test out your seating arrangements; can you sit and see the board without craning your neck? Think about your colour scheme. Your hot pink and turquoise combo might have looked brilliant on Pinterest, but will it give some children a headache or be an unwanted distraction? And while you may have banked a million display and “area” ideas during your training, remember you have to put the needs of your children first.
     
  2. Don’t expect a blank slate

    You might be imagining walking into a crisp and clean classroom, ready to work your magic. I can tell you now that this is not happening. Your room will probably be cluttered with the remnants of the last teacher to inhabit it and their displays will most likely still be up. But be positive about it, embrace the cathartic clear-out and take care of things without any grumbling; you don’t know who your new room belonged to last − or how many of their friends are still working at the school.
     
  3. Create curiosity

    Your new children will be keen to get to know you and your personality, so don’t be afraid of sharing it. Whether that’s through an interesting memento on your desk or your favourite book in the reading area, it will help to start conversations and build rapport.
     
  4. Exercise restraint

    Your laminator is smoking, you have staple-gun blisters… stop. The excitement of setting up your first classroom can put you into a pre-term giddiness of filling every last inch of your space with wiggly-bordered loveliness. But a cluttered space won’t create a good learning environment. Think about having room to learn and to move.
     
  5. Resist the urge to create the finished article

    Yes, you want to “wow” your new class with their beautiful learning environment, but you have to remember that it it belongs to them as much as to you. Your classroom needs to grow along with your children. Ensure they have the space to put their stamp on it, too.

Sarah Wright is a senior lecturer at Edge Hill University in Lancashire. She tweets as @Sarah__wright1. You can read new instalments of her NQT boot camp every Wednesday and Friday during the summer holidays

For more advice on how to prepare for your NQT year, visit our dedicated New Teachers site, where you can find videos, hints, tips, teaching resources and job listings

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