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How to Set Up a Middle School Classroom

Learn how to set up a middle school classroom so that the room looks visually appealing without looking too young for the age group.


How to set up a middle school classroom is a question that teachers often ask themselves. They want to make sure it looks interesting enough to engage their students, but they do not want it to resemble the primary classrooms these students have grown up with.

This is my eighth year to set up a middle school classroom. I was very excited to set up my classroom this summer because I was moving into a new room. I had been in my old room for three years, and it was time to move and purge all the things I never use.

Below I’ll share how I set up a middle school classroom.

How To Set Up A Middle School Classroom

1. Buy a large cup of coffee and pre-load your iPod with get moving songs because you will be moving for a long time. It took me three days to set up my classroom for functional use and at least two more days to get it looking nice enough for me to want to spend time in it.

2. Fight with the adjustable shelves until you break not only your nails but a finger or two!
3. Look through all of your classroom library bins and get excited when you find prizes left by former students: cookies, juice boxes and some granola bar wrappers. Bonus if you find unopened food!
4. Make sure to leave space for your math word wall. After all the time you spend decorating the area around it, make sure to actually refer to it in your teaching.

5. Don’t forget your fast finisher activities when you set up a middle school classroom! Students who finish early can visit the challenge bin for meaningful activities to complete that will complement our current big ideas and learning goals.

6. My students always forget what subjects they have when. I would, too, if I did not use my day book religiously. OK, I will be honest; sometimes, I get the days of the week mixed up. “No more extra Gym or Art,” said no kid ever!

7. Have students manage the homework board so it becomes more meaningful to them. Refer to it at least once a day as a visual reference for due dates and important events.

8. Help students stay organized by keeping an up-to-date table of contents for each subject you teach. It helps students figure out what lesson they missed when they were absent.

9. Students can increase their achievement in any subject area by using a Bump It Up Board. See this blog post for specific instructions on how to create a bump-it-up board. You can also purchase the Bump It Up Board Headers featured in this photo. You can find the Bump It Up Board Headers on Teachers Pay Teachers USD or Shopify CAD.

10. As you set up a middle school classroom, keep your small group area clean so you can quickly get started on instruction and students have a place to work.

11. I was lucky that my school custodian was able to drill the pocket chart and chart paper into the cinder block so I could save space. Stand-alone holders take up a lot of space in the middle school classroom.

12. I finally found a reliable method to reclaim shelf space for other things besides textbooks!

13. I will never hear “But I don’t remember the words.”

14. When you set up a middle school classroom, don’t forget activities to whisk away the rainy day blues.

15. Don’t get too excited; this is taken before school actually starts and before three million things get handed to me daily.

16. This is my solution to being interrupted during small group instruction for materials.

17. When you set up a middle school classroom, don’t forget about movement! I use these daily to keep students moving around the classroom—the best investment of $30 at the dollar store.

18. All assessments, rubrics and success criteria go home to be signed and then returned to each student’s assessment folder. The folders are assigned by number on the class list, so I can reuse them every year.

19. I have only used this bin once in my eight years, but on that dreadful morning, it was a blessing to write into my plans, “Use emergency lessons.” I also write into my plans that if a lesson does not work properly, then they can always turn to this bin for tried and true lessons.

20. Looking for engaging activities for the first week of school? Try our Back to School Activity Bundle – you can find this bundle on Teachers Pay Teachers USD or Shopify CAD.
I hope you found this blog post about how to set up a middle school classroom useful; I enjoyed showcasing how I set up my room.

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11 thoughts on “How to Set Up a Middle School Classroom”

  1. The Primary Patch

    I love that post, Kristy! It's fun being invited in to see how other classrooms are set up. I completely agree with 1. (the coffee and music!) Bryn

  2. Thanks. This was very helpful. I am a teacher in training and will be starting my student teaching in the fall. I'm grateful for any kind of practical help/advice I can get at this point. Thanks!

  3. Thank you so much for this post! I am just beginning to move into my first middle school classroom. This is invaluable!!!

  4. I used to have browsing bins by subject area for students to select non-fiction books to read. Now they are just in my classroom library. Students can work on word puzzles or read once they are done. I don't get too many early finishers in middle school. If you have a lot of early finishers see if you can bump up the difficulty level of a task for those students. Also all students could use a bump it up board to revise their work. See this blog post:

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