Setting up your first classroom? Ask these questions before you move in!
Before you start hauling in your Target Dollar Spot finds and favorite bulletin board fabric, be sure to note some key details about your new classroom!
From the super obvious - "when can I move in?" - to things you probably haven't thought to ask (Ummm..where is the nearest staff restroom?!), these questions will help you move in smoothly, set up intentionally, and start your first year of teaching with a well-functioning classroom, which will benefit both you and your students all year long.
New classroom logistics
These are the basics, and will probably be the first things you need to find out before making any other plans.
When can I begin to bring my things? Things like summer deep cleans, maintenance or new installations, and summer school can sometimes mean you'll have to wait to move into your new classroom.
Where is the nearest place to park for unloading my things? If you're lucky, you'll be able to use the utility access driveway to get as close as possible to your classroom, instead of lugging things from the parking lot! I didn't realize this until the very end of my first year of teaching, so definitely be sure to ask!!
Will my key work on the gate, or do I need to coordinate with the custodian or office staff?
Is there a cart I can use, and how do I access it?
What do I do with old materials from the previous teacher? Most of the things you find will be things to purge - I've learned that even with the best intentions and truly great files, you rarely use someone else's old master copies. Be sure to check, though, what you should do with any leftover consumables, old materials like math manipulatives you don't expect to use, small group readers from prior curriculum adoptions, etc.)
Your new campus
It's time to get the lay of the land, so you and your students can make the best use of it! Be sure to ask:
Where is the nearest staff restroom to my classroom?
Where are the office and staff lounge located?
Where does staff park, and do I need a permit?
If there is street parking, do I need to be aware of any restrictions, such as street sweeping?
What should I know about the campus layout:
Where will I pick up and dismiss students from?
What do recess and lunch look like?
Are there any community spaces, such as reading gardens, technology labs, school library, or gardening plots that my students and I can use? When and how can we access them?
Classroom maintenance and operations:
When you first see your new classroom, it's easy to look at the big picture layout such as cabinet space, bulletin board design, and things that impact classroom organization. But don't forget to make sure things are in working order, and find out what to do when things aren't!
Is there air conditioning? Is it centrally controlled, or do I have access to the thermostat?
What steps do I take if something needs to be repaired?
Are there any restrictions I need to be aware of, such as fabric restrictions, ability to hang things from the walls or ceiling, use of personal furniture, etc.?
Before you can plan your room layout and lessons, you need to know some key things about the technology available to you in your new classroom.
What technology is available in the room (projector, document camera, desktop computer or laptop docking station, printer, etc.) and how do I operate it?
Can hardwired technology be moved by me, or do I need to put in a work order if, say, I want to switch my desk to a different corner of the room?
What campus technology (copy machine, laminator, poster printer, etc.) is available to me, and where/how do I access it?
Classroom Design & Functionality
Now it's time to think about the layout of the space itself, including furniture, storage, and decor.
What furniture (student desks, teacher desk, small group tables, bookcases, etc.) is available to me?
Am I allowed to bring personal furniture, such as a teacher desk or bookshelves, if preferred?
What is the layout of the room's outlets, cupboards and cabinets, bulletin boards, windows, shelving, etc.? Which things are moveable and which things are permanently placed?
Be sure to take photos when you see your new room, especially if you won't be able to get back in for awhile. This way, you can start to think about how to make the best use of the space and maximize the learning that takes place there!
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