Setting up Your First Classroom with Focus

When I accepted my first teaching job, I couldn’t wait to get keys to my classroom. I had so many ideas spinning around in my head of what I would do with my first classroom. But when the principal walked me down the hall, handed me a set of keys, and said, “This is your room. Have fun!” I looked around and was immediately overwhelmed.

The first thing I noticed was the lack of a teacher desk. The walls were blank, and when I opened the cabinets, I found lots of things that I didn’t know what to do with: game pieces that I didn’t have any instructions for, seasonal items that were faded from too much sun, and limited curriculum with missing teacher manuals.

At this time, Pinterest was an “invite-only” website, and my sister was able to get me approved for an account, but there were limited teacher ideas. Teacher Instagram accounts were not a thing. In some ways, I'm glad that these did not exist when I began teaching. Today, it’s so easy to look at all these Pinterest-worthy classrooms that are fully coordinated in colors and design, and immediately do the comparison game. We see classrooms that are beautifully organized and look like a bunch of students couldn't possibly have come through the classroom. Well, the truth is, my classroom looks like a disaster sometimes, because well...we're learning, and learning can get messy. So avoid the comparison game. The aesthetic, perfect lighting and organization of color-coordinated bins don't always look perfect like that when students are in the room. Trust me.

But with all that being said, I'll share my first classroom picture. I took the first picture the day I walked into my classroom. You might notice in the picture below that I had a massive tv mounted on the wall, and an overhead projector. Yes, a projector, that I refused to use. I had the maintenance put it in storage. I was not going back to the dark ages. I decided to make due without it.

I didn’t have much money and most of the things you see in this picture I made myself. The tree was made out of scrapbook paper, and my attempt to cover the gigantic tv with a sun was made out of cardboard. Now thankfully my mom, who is a retired teacher, understood the dilemma of a first year teacher---my first paycheck didn't come until after school started. She loaned me some money so that I could get set up. However, I’ve learned over the years that the