New Teacher Tips: Preparing Your Classroom for the First Year

The summer days are ticking away and teachers everywhere are starting to prepare themselves for a new school year. As a new teacher, it’s your time to shine! Now that you’re in charge of your own classroom (congrats!), there is so much to do. Consider these quick tips on preparing your classroom for your first school year.

preparing your classroom

Good Classroom Flow

Nice, straight, orderly rows of desks may appeal to your “left brain” tendencies, but it may not always be the best option for optimal classroom management.

Whether you go with clusters of desks, a semi-circle layout, or replace traditional desks with tables, you’ll want to consider the following in your classroom design:

  • Ensure you can see everyone and everyone can see you.
  • Create a layout that encourages student collaboration.
  • Make sure you can walk freely among the students and reach all students quickly.
  • Leave enough space so that your classroom centers are separated and defined.

Don’t forget your own space. Decide whether your desk will be in the front of the room where you can access it as you teach or if you’ll keep it off to the side or in the back, to be used mainly during planning periods.

This helpful (and fun!) tool allows you to play around with different set-up options and find the one that works best for your space. Enter the dimensions of your classroom and start placing classroom elements until everything is in its perfect place.

Stock Up Your Classroom Library

For many teachers, the classroom library or “reading nook” is their favorite part of the classroom, but also the toughest to get organized. Before the year starts, take an inventory of your books and fill in any gaps. Here are a few things to consider for your first-time setup.

Leveled Readers

Whether you’re inheriting your leveled readers from a retiring teacher or getting a few new ones from the powers that be, you’ll want to check that your reading levels are covered. Consider making a color coding system using colored stickers that equate to reading level(s). Many publishers make their level list available online to help teachers (and hopefully their volunteers!) with this task. Your new system can not only help you see what’s in your library, but also help students quickly and easily return the books to their proper places.

Nonfiction and Fiction

Separate your nonfiction and fiction titles into two designated areas of the library. This tip is especially important when teaching your students the difference between fiction and nonfiction literature. From there, consider sorting and presenting your nonfiction books by theme (e.g. history, space, animals, biographies, etc.) and fiction books alphabetically.

Favorite Characters

Whether it’s Judy Moody, Geronimo Stilton, or Nancy Drew, set up bins dedicated to each beloved character and make these high-demand books easy to locate.

Featured Authors or Teacher Recommendations

Consider a small “featured” area that you can revise and update throughout the year. Here you can highlight the authors you’ll be discussing in your author studies, seasonal favorites, and your own personal top picks. Have students vote for their favorites as the year rolls on.

In her blog, CJayneTeach, a first-grade teacher shares her simple process for organizing a classroom library and some beautiful images of the final results.

Must-Haves from the Pros

Who better to give advice on preparing your classroom for the new school year than teachers themselves! We reached out to our network of teachers on social media and asked them to share their #1 classroom essential for a new school year. Here’s what they had to say:

teacher tips - preparing your classroom


We’d love to hear from you too!  Share your advice and classroom necessities with first-year teachers as they ready their classrooms for the First Day of School!

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