When you get the opportunity to set up a new ELA classroom, you have to have a plan, and no matter if you are someone who likes to color-coordinate, label everything, or keep the room bare, there are 6 things I would strongly recommend having.
When you are just starting out, teaching can be really exciting, but I remember those first moments when I walked into my classroom in the fall and looked around.
Suddenly the weight of an entire school year began to fall onto me.
Now, that may sound dramatic, but we are ELA teachers, after all, so I would be remiss if I left out the dramatic writing.
How many of you remember the first time you prepped your ELA class? Do you remember what books you read, papers you wrote, or projects you prepared?
I remember a few, but my teaching has changed so dramatically since then that the first-year me may not even recognize me today.
That is because I’ve gotten smarter with how I prepare, and I recognize what is most important.
Let’s dig into my must-have list!
5 things I now believe you NEED to have to adequately set up a new ELA classroom.
#1 | These Curriculum Breakdown Spreadsheets
Like it or not, teaching is not all sunshine and rainbows and creative projects. It is a series of standards and skills that you have to make sure students are working on and mastering throughout the year.
How can you prepare for such a mighty task? Plan well from the beginning.
There are Curriculum Breakdown Spreadsheets that will make planning much easier, and it is also a whole lot easier to make sure that nothing gets left out throughout the year.
#2 | A Good Emergency Sub Plan
You don’t get to pick when you get sick, and sometimes you need to punt. That means having a sub plan ready to go for those emergency situations.
Your emergency sub plan needs to be something that you can have ready to go any day. In your emergency sub plan, have a copy of your class lists, all handouts that the sub may need, and literally anything else that a sub may need to make this plan happen.
I don’t even like to have sub plans that are computer-dependent since even that is sometimes hard for subs to manage. Instead, have a lesson prepared that has physical copies.
Trust me, when you’re puking your guts out at 4 a.m., you’ll be happy that an emergency plan exists.
I also believe in having a sub-tub ready to go, and you can read more about my sub-tub here.
#3 | Whiteboards and Markers
Yep. I appreciate a class set of whiteboards more than almost anything else because they are at once paper and presentation. We can use these whiteboards for formative assessment, to take quick notes, to jot down quick feedback, and to answer questions.
They are definitely one of the places I’m willing to spend the money.
#4 | An Organizational Plan
Have a good plan for both paper/physical product and printout organization AND organization in your Google Drive and on your school computer.
You need to start with a good organizational system right away otherwise, by the time you have the time to think about cleaning everything up, it’s too late, and everything is way out of hand.
You also want to file your resources and files in a way that when you leave the school district, it is easy to take your stuff with you. Again, this is good to think about in advance!
#5 | A Place to Hide the Good Stuff
Yep. I went there.
On my list of 5, I am going to definitely say that you absolutely NEED to have a special spot in your classroom for your stuff because you never know who is going to use your room for what purpose.
School classrooms get rented out a lot, and classroom doors are often left unlocked during free periods, during lunch, and before and after school. You need to protect your stuff by having a place where you put your good stuff away at the end of the day.
I like this place to have a lock, but sometimes even a closet with a door is a good enough option if you’re limited.
I also know that working with middle school students that boundaries can sometimes be an issue, so you don’t need to tempt them with even more cool stuff than you already have in your classroom.
There you have it. 5 completely mismatched items that I think are must-haves for anyone who is going to set up a new ELA classroom!
It may seem random, but each of these things is important in its own way!