Setting Up Your Special Education Classroom

The correct classroom set-up can help your year go smoother.  Make your furniture work for you by arranging it in a way to improve student focus. Here are some ideas on how to arrange your classroom in a way that promotes student focus while reducing behaviors.

The correct classroom set-up can help your year go smoother.  Make your furniture work for you by arranging it in a way to improve student focus. These ideas are especially helpful for special education classrooms, self-contained classrooms and early elementary classrooms.

The first thing I do when thinking of my classroom layout is to make a list of the areas I am going to need. For example, for the way I run my work centers I am going to need 3 separate work spaces. I want my students to be on task and focused during these centers, so I need to arrange the room in a way that limits distractions. To achieve this, I use classroom furniture to separate the work areas.

Use classroom furniture to create barriers between work spaces.


In the above picture, you can see that we used classroom furniture to create a "wall" between the 2 work spaces. For my wall, I used 2 metal cabinets (standing back to back) and 2 filing cabinets. When you create your wall or barrier, it is important to make sure that it can't be pushed over. In special education, we need to account for the possibility that our students could become aggressive.

Position students so they are facing away from the rest of the classroom.

Positioning students so they are facing away from the rest of the classroom is helpful in keeping students on task. Pictured above is the space I use for direct instruction with my students. When students are working with me, they are facing the wall. Better yet.... I am facing the rest of the classroom! This allows the teacher to still monitor the classroom during direct instruction.

Have a way to create temporary walls and limit distractions.

Let's face it, behaviors pop up and can be very distracting to the rest of the class. We need to be ready with a way to cut off attention and get students back on task. I recommend having a temporary divider handy. We made the one pictured above out of a refrigerator box and white duct tape. I like to use boxes because it can be folded up and easily stored behind a cabinet or the door. I also recommend choosing a solid color to cover the cardboard with so your divider isn't visually distracting.


Set up your classroom in a way that promotes on task behavior


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