Your Ultimate Classroom Prep Checklist for the New School Year
The new school year is rapidly approaching, so it’s time to get your classroom ready! Due to the pandemic, returning to the classroom will look different. Some teachers can work remote, but for those returning to the classroom this article is for you. Here’s a totally doable 6-step classroom checklist, and some awesome products to get your learning space school-year ready and COVID-safe!
Step 1: Clean up!
Every year, a classroom goes through a lot of wear and tear. After the summer, and while it’s still empty, it’s time to give the room a good scrub down. While your school’s custodians have probably done a stellar job cleaning the floors and perhaps even wiping down the boards, it’s often up to teachers to do the nitty-gritty room cleaning. So break out that cleaning spray and wipe down all the classroom surfaces. Clean out your desk and cabinets, and wipe down bookshelves to get everything sparkling before you start unpacking and setting things up. Keep a stack of extra wipes and cleaning bottles around so that you can clean door knobs and other spots commonly touched by students (to prevent the spread of deadly viruses).
- Beat classroom germs: Clorox® Disinfecting Wipes
- Clean without harsh chemicals: Honest Company Grapefruit Multi-Surface Spray
- Tackle scuff marks and stains: Mr. Clean Magic Eraser Cleaning Pads
- Get those whiteboards glistening: EXPO® 22 oz Dry Erase Surface Cleaner
Scotch-Brite 3-in-1 Microfiber Cloth
Step 2: Plan your classroom layout
Sit down, look around, and consider the best starting layout for your classroom. Think about how your students will move around the space, and how you can arrange desks, chairs, and tables, to create an effective learning environment.
Keep in mind that COVID-19 can spread in communal spaces so make your classroom virus-safe. Try arranging the classroom to avoid having students pass each other. Make one row dedicated to traveling in one direction, and make another row dedicated to traveling in the opposite direction (think one-way walk paths).
What zones or spaces do you need or want to create? Here are some ideas:
- Alternative workspace
- Chill out zone
- Collaborative learning space
- Reading zone
- Safe space
- Wrap up zone
For more on this, check out 12 Ways to Upgrade Your Classroom Design.
Ideas and tools
- Classroom architect tool
- Pinterest classroom design and organization board
- Research on classroom seating arrangements
- Scholastic classroom set-up app
Step 3: Create your classroom procedures
Now that you’ve considered your layout and design, let’s focus on procedures.
It’s time to think about things like:
- Where will students access materials?
- How will students hand in work?
- Where will you keep hall passes?
Introducing classroom procedures and expectations at the beginning of the year — and staying consistent — keeps students and teachers free to focus on learning. Here are some ideas to get you started.
- Dismissal checklist
- Marker and pen organization
- Noise meter
- No-name board
- Pocket chart
- SEL: “Trash Your Troubles” bin
- Table supplies storage
COVID aware classroom procedures
- HealthyChildren.org COVID suggestions
- Minnesota’s COVID-19 Guidance for Schools and Child Care Programs
Step 4: Get visual
Research varies on whether classroom decorations help or hinder learning, but experts note that classroom design should inspire learning — not distract from it. When creating visuals for your space, consider the 3 Cs: Create a calming, clean, and comfortable environment for students. Visuals that serve as celebrations, provide supportive, welcoming messages, and reference what’s been learned are worthy decor choices.
- Calming lighting
- Celebration and inspiration
- Classroom photobooth
- Door decor
- Flexible seating that’s not too distracting
- Simple, uncluttered design
Step 5: Get supplies and organize
Now that your classroom is laid out and you have your visuals done, it’s time to do your last-minute shopping and organizing! What will you need to stay organized and effective as a teacher? Consider how both you and your students will use the space, and create your own teacher systems for staying organized during the school day and throughout the year.
- Custom teacher stamps
- Drawer cart decals
- Self-care for the real world
- Seriously affordable teacher t-shirts
- Simple paper storage
- Teacher binder
- Teacher desk drawer organizers
PPE (Personal Protective Equipment) Gear
There are also some great stores that offer teacher discounts, so be sure to check those out too.
Step 6: Take a deep breath!
The school year is coming, and you’ve created a beautiful, functional, and safe environment for your students. Remember to be flexible — nothing is ever perfect. Real teaching isn’t like a pristine Pinterest board. If something doesn’t work as you envisioned, don’t hesitate to find new, creative ways to rework the space.
For now, take a deep breath and look around your room. Imagine your students in it — learning, laughing, and feeling loved. After all, that’s what it’s all about. Here’s to a great year!