Setting up your Spanish Classroom

So you’ve been hired for your very first Spanish teaching job (congrats!) and have been handed the keys to your new room (exciting!). You walk into an empty slate and aren’t quite sure where to begin (don’t fret!). Here are some considerations to keep in mind when setting up your Spanish classroom!

1) Desk Arrangement

Think about the types of activities you anticipate doing most in your classroom. This should guide your desk set-up. For example, will your students work often in groups? Perhaps table groups make the most sense. Will students be following your lead at the front of the room most of the time? Consider forward-facing rows. Will students turn and talk with a partner regularly? This works well if you have desk pairs set up! 

 

Of course, you can always arrange desks another way for a particular activity, but your home base desk arrangement should best suit the activities you’ll frequently plan for your students. Because my students turn and talk in pairs often, I line my rows up in pairs so that students have a clear partner to work with each day, but can face the front for my guided instruction or directions as well. 

 

Keep in mind that it helps to have some walkways or spaces around the edges of the classroom as well! I often put my students in concentric circles for quick task card chats (like this activity!) and having some wiggle room around the outside edges helps. If this isn’t possible, remember you can always take your students outside!

2) Important Zones

The following zones are important to consider and also make your students aware of at the start of the year! I often assign a classroom scavenger hunt activity to allow students to get to know the resources available to them in the room.

Student Materials

A zone to provide students access to everyday items such as a stapler, pencil sharpener and other materials you/your school is able to provide (paper, writing utensils, tissues, etc.). Also think about a space for markers, highlighters, scissors, rulers, etc., especially if you plan for students to do creative projects! I liked storing these in bins in a cabinet and pulling the bins out on project days.

Absent Work

Think about what you’d like students to do to access materials from an absence. While I keep a digital agenda for students to easily view the lesson and homework from home, it helps to have a system for paper handouts. Two methods I’ve tried and recommend include: 

 

(1) A binder with one divider per class period and handouts with names of absent students at the top. You can write the names of absent students on the handouts or have a student responsible for this.

 

(2) A hanging file system with one hanging file folder for each level you teach. Students have the responsibility to check the folder for any handouts they didn’t receive. This is also a place students can go if they lost a handout and need an additional copy.

Bathroom Sign-Out

Find out the bathroom policy at your school. The bathroom sign-out zone could be by your desk or by the door and may depend on your school’s bathroom policy. Students in my class sign a clipboard with their name, sign out time, etc. and grab the bathroom pass (after asking for permission first). I have also had students leave their phone as a “pass” to use the restroom (it’s best if this is on your desk, however!)

Phone Collection

Decide if you intend to collect devices in your classroom – daily, on assessment days, only for repeat offenders? I bought a hanging shoe organizer, labeled it “Siesta celular” and added numbered index cards into the slots. Each student receives a number at the start of the year and places their phone in the designated space at the start of class. At the end of class, I call students up by color groups (just to avoid chaos) to collect their phones. My recommendation is to place this in a location where you can stand as students add/take phones to be sure they go back to the correct student.

Whiteboard Organization

Check out your whiteboard space and decide if you plan to include the following sections and where they might go:

 

(1) Date, objective(s) and agenda(s) for each level you teach

 

(2) Homework: I recommend having a space to display the entire week’s worth of HW as it helps students with busy schedules to plan ahead!

 

(3) Makeups: have a place to write names of students needing to make up an assessment due to an absence! It’s a great visual reminder for you both that it needs to be scheduled.

Teacher Space

Designate a space for yourself and your own materials and decor. If you have flexibility, choose a location that works well while teaching but also allows you to see all students easily if you are seated during independent work. Don’t forget to decorate the space! Add photos of your family, friends, travel or items representing your favorite activities. These can be great conversation starters with students!

Other Zones & Considerations

Do you plan to implement some sort of free reading routine? Create a space for students to easily view and grab a book – on a wall, countertop, bookshelf, etc.!

Does your school provide a class set of devices/laptops? You’ll also want an area students can easily access a device to use during class time. If they have their own, consider where they might charge devices.

Do you intend for students to maintain Spanish class notebooks or use workbooks of some sort? Get one crate for each class period you teach so students can leave these materials in the classroom (if applicable).

Don’t forget about emergency resources! Make sure your first aid kid, emergency binder, etc. are all clearly labeled so that students and/or a sub can easily find them in your absence.

3) Wall Decor & Reference Posters

Before filling in your classroom walls with fun, decorative posters, think about any reference materials you may want on the walls. Do you want to have Super 7 Verbs posted? What about rejoinders? The alphabet? A word wall of some sort? These are all simply options to fill empty space in your classroom, but don’t overwhelm yourself uneccessarily!

 

Find a space to turn into a bulletin board to display student work throughout the year. Fabric (if you’re allowed to use it) works great as a backdrop as it doesn’t fade over time. Bulletin board borders, posters and more can be found on Amazon, Teacher’s Discovery, etc.

 

There sure is a lot to consider when setting up your classroom, but thinking through the logistics now will help future you out! Remember, your classroom doesn’t have to be perfect from day 1, and you’ll make adjustments as you “live in” it throughout the year. Hopefully these suggestions are helpful to get you started! Let me know below what you’d add to this list or if you have any questions!

 

Best of luck and, most importantly, have fun!

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