Planning classroom organisation for the year ahead can be satisfying. Working on the layout of your class brings a sense of anticipation, and a feeling of promise — a fresh start. Get the structure of your learning environment right, and you’ll lay the foundation for a calm, organised and purposeful working atmosphere.
When organising your classroom, consider:
- The organisation of furniture
- Your use of wall space
- How you store resources
- General housekeeping
Not sure where to start? Try thinking of your class from a students’ perspective:
- What will it look like for them?
- How useful and accessible will they find the arrangement of the furniture and resources?
- What will they need on the walls to support their learning?
1. Arrange Classroom Furniture to Facilitate Learning
When arranging furniture, think through what will be happening in your maths lessons. Older children might primarily sit at tables, while younger children in Key Stage 1 will need a clear route to move between carpeted areas and tables.
Wherever children are sitting, make sure they can see the smartboard and other visual resources clearly. It’s very difficult for students to remain engaged if they cannot see what is going on. Take a few moments to sit in each seat to make sure everyone has a clear view.
Also, double check that you can move easily between and around the tables as you teach and observe learning.
A few more things to ask yourself:
- How will you use furniture to promote collaboration between children?
- Will they be able to easily work in pairs or small groups?
- Will students have enough room to use textbooks together, while still having room to individually journal and complete workbooks?
- Put resources and books out to see whether your arrangement of tables will give children space to effectively collaborate and explore
- Keep table tops as clutter free as possible — keep only the essentials on-hand
- Large pencil pots on desks can be useful for storing group utensils, but make sure they aren’t prone to tipping over when bumped
- Alternatively, consider a clear pencil case for each student
2. Use Wall Space to Promote Learning
Use wall space carefully. Think about what children need on the walls to support their learning. Try to keep any information specific and pertinent — don’t overload them with content.
Consider a maths working wall. It’s an ideal space to pin up examples of shared journals. This enables children to see what effective journaling looks like, while also giving them a chance to continue working on ideas after the lesson ends.
Think about the content of the lesson. For example, the first few weeks of your first term deal with number and place value. So, have digit cards and number names displayed alongside the key terms they’ll use throughout each chapter.
Part-whole diagrams, a number line/track, and place-value charts are also useful for working walls. They’re an excellent reminder for children, and a good opportunity for them to develop number sense and fluency.
3. Store Resources Effectively
Storage of manipulatives need careful consideration. Students need ready access to manipulatives, but must also know where to put them when they are not using them. Otherwise, you risk losing base 10 and double-sided counters to the vacuum cleaner at the end of the day!
It’s worth investing in some cheap containers with plastic lids to store counters and base 10 materials for each collaborative pair. Zip-seal sandwich bags make a good home for digit cards. Store them in plastic cleaning trays (with handles) or in a central area in class. That way, they can be given out before the lesson starts and easily gathered.
Plan some time every so often to have a quick audit and tidy. When it comes to classroom organisation, it makes your life a lot easier if the room is tidy and put together. Take time to reflect upon whether the layout works. If not, don’t be afraid to change things around. Above all enjoy your classroom — after all that’s where the fun happens!