Time to join the space race

24th August 2007 at 01:00
Do you know what's going where in your classroom? Now is the perfect opportunity to check out your new environment

One of the hardest things you'll have to do as a teacher is also the first: setting up the physical environment is crucial, but it needs planning as well as physical effort and time in the last week of the holiday.

The position of electrical sockets will determine where you put computers and whiteboards. When you've got these in position you can build up the rest of the room. Make sure you've got a desk to work at and shelves to store your files. Don't ruin your back by working at children's tables after school.

Look at the furniture you've been given. Often new teachers are given cast offs so get rid of things you don't need. Check other classrooms to see you have a fair allocation. Find out the maximum number of people you'll have and then add a couple spare in case of new arrivals or being sent children from another class. Remember to allow space for moving around and for other adults who might be working in the room, and any equipment for children with special needs.

Everyone needs to see you when you're whole-class teaching so where are you going to stand? Are you going to have people in rows, horseshoes or clusters of four or six? Choose whatever you think is going to work best for you and the children rather than slavishly following what other teachers do.

Have you got everything you need to teach your age group? Organise resources and design systems to minimise fuss and time wasted on getting things out and putting them away. Word process labels for trays and think about illustrating them if you have pupils who won't be able to read them. Laminate key words and copies of pupils' names for displaying work.

Think through procedures for moving from the carpet to tables, lining up, going to the toilet and tidying. Systems for the particularly troublesome things such as packed lunches, bags, PE kits, pencils, pens, sharpeners, rubbers, scissors, exercise books, worksheets, unfinished work, reading folders and homework are tricky but vital. Ask others for inspiration they'll be happy to help"

Sara Bubb's Successful Induction for New Teachers will be published in September

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