Whether it’s your very first classroom or you’re starting your 20th year, how you organize your classroom now can help set you up for a successful school year. Classroom organization involves more than figuring out how to arrange desks and chairs. You will want to figure out how to organize bulletin boards, storage items, supplies and other classroom items. While there are traditional ways to set up a classroom, teachers can customize theirs in ways that will enhance the learning experience for students based on grade level and subject matter.

Elementary School Classrooms 

Classrooms for grades K-5 can be set up using the following suggestions:

  • Arrange desks or tables and chairs based on teaching style. Lining these up in rows is a traditional classroom arrangement, but it might not provide the best learning experience for elementary school students. Desks and tables or chairs can be set up as separate learning stations for teachers who focus on self-paced teaching methods for individual students. They can also be arranged in small groupings for teachers who prefer to have students work together in groups. Another option is to arrange these in a U-shape for teachers who focus on and encourage discussions that involve the entire class.
  • Keep supplies handy. Supplies that students will need often should be kept in places that are easy for them to reach. This cuts down on the amount of time it takes for students to get these supplies.
  • Set up themed areas. Some teachers prefer to set up areas that are dedicated to certain themes, such as a reading corner, an area for music or a multimedia area. Having these different areas can provide more stimulation for students, which can enrich the learning experience.

Middle School Classrooms

Middle school classrooms for grades 6-8 can be set up in the following ways:

  • Arrange desks or tables and chairs. As with elementary school classrooms, these can be arranged based on teaching style. Middle school classrooms often make use of small group discussions, which can make clusters of desks or tables an ideal arrangement.
  • Set up bulletin boards and visuals neatly. Bulletin boards should be placed in noticeable areas and be clearly labeled for students. Visuals, such as posters, should relate to the subject matter that is being taught. For example, math classrooms should feature math-related visuals on the walls.
  • Make supplies easily accessible. Paper, scissors and other basic supplies should be in a central location that all students can access easily. Supplies for a certain subject, such as science or art, should be kept at work stations or in a separate location that is easy for students to reach.

High School Classrooms

High school classrooms can be set up using the following suggestions:

  • Arrange tables or desks and chairs. High school classrooms can be set up in different ways and changed as needed based on teaching style. Desks and tables or chairs can be organized into groups, set up in a circle or arranged as separate work stations. Changing up the classroom arrangement throughout the year for high school students is recommended, because as students prepare for college or the next steps of their lives, it’s essential that they’re able to work both in groups to promote teamwork, and by themselves to see their individual skillsets.
  • Choose subject-related visuals. Visuals for a high school classroom should be based on subject matter. Science classrooms might have posters and signs related to chemistry or physics, such as a periodic table, while history classrooms might have visuals that feature important historical events from different time periods.
  • Set up learning labs or stations. Arrange separate areas where students can move around and work on different topics. For example, these might include geometry or algebra problem-solving stations in a math classroom.

While you will likely set up your classroom before your students arrive for the year, don’t be afraid to make changes if what you thought would work isn’t. Feel confident in making adjustments throughout the year in order to provide an improved learning environment for students.