5 steps to get ready for back to school (Part 2)



Not only do they make your classroom brighter and more beautiful, but they can also be a great learning and revising tool for your students. Here I’m going to talk about permanent displays such as ABCs, numbers, routines, classroom language or rules charts and will also delve into temporary posters and those based on themes.

Permanent displays

These are displays that are useful throughout the year. It’s hard work the first couple of years getting them ready, but once you have made or gather a nice collection of them you just need to put them up at the beginning of the year and take them down at the end.

My must-have displays are:

Routine chart. I usually start the class with ‘What’s the weather like?’ You can get a nice one like the one below or just simply make one by laminating cardboard and using velcro. You could also use a plain pocket chart with date and weather flashcards.



Weather flashcards

Weather flashcards 2

Weather flashcards 3


Abc charts. Many coursebooks come with an abc frieze which can sometimes make your life a lot easier. If that’s not your case, or you don’t totally like the one you have, you can just as easily make one with the letters or with letters and pictures.


ABC Train

Letter and picture

ABC Cards

Numbers chart. It’s really helpful to have the numbers and how they are written up and visible on a chart on the wall so that the children can have a look at any time needed.




Number flashcards

Classroom rules. The first day I like to set up the rules in order to avoid conflicts later on. A good way to remind them is to have them around at all times on the wall so that they can easily be ‘refreshed’ when needed. The one below is just one of great displays you can find at www.schoolslinks.co.uk



Classroom rules

Temporary or theme displays

Every time we are dealing with a new theme we can involve our students and make beautiful flashcards and posters about it. If we are reading a story we can make a poster with the characters and the main vocabulary. We can always use the plain pocket chart for it but if we want to have them handy at any time during a certain period of time we might want to consider having a theme corner where some charts are displayed for a while.



Story patterns

Finally, if you aren’t lucky enough to have your own classroom and by the time that you go to teach your English class the walls are already full of stuff the other teacher put up, don’t panic! You can always use the corridor 😉

Did I forget one? What are some of your ‘must-have’ displays? I once knew a teacher that would carry around a ‘How do you say _____?’ sign from class to class…Important indeed!

5 steps to get ready for Back to School (Part 1)


Material organization

Here in Spain, parents are asked to buy pencils, glue, erasers and so on. Sometimes, they are also asked to give money to buy supplies needed by the school for the year. But whatever the case, at the beginning of the school year we find ourselves with 25+ kids with their hands, and backpacks, full of material to organise. Sometimes we the teachers are the ones responsible for organising them and  sometimes we just teach English in that classroom which means that the material is already organised but even though there is always margin to arrange things to each teacher’s liking.

Here are a couple of useful tips on how to arrange material in the classroom.

2 important things to think about beforehand:

– Who is going to organise the material?

– Who is going to have access to the material?

Who is going to organise the material?

Let’s start with the first question which can either be done by the teacher, the students or a combination of both. If you decide to do it yourself, think about how your class is going to flow, if you are going to do crafts often you might want to have the material readily accessible for every class but if you are only going to do crafts during special celebrations you can have them out of reach(and out of sight) until that day.

That said, students can easily be involved in this process. Use your first class to present or review classroom items. For this,  you can use Ken and Karen’s story, My schoolbag. Organise the class in groups and ask them to make labels for the different items and then ask them where they think will be the best place to put them. If possible, follow their recommendations, if they’re not feasible explain why and suggest a new location.

Always remember, whenever students are involved and have a say in something they are more willing to use them, to feel responsible and to care about them.

Some links to labels are:

Stationary labels

Classroom labels

Classroom organization

Who is going to have access?

You might think that the only way to have materials survive until the end of the year is if you are in control of the material all the time. If this is the case, you might need to set up a routine for the way you distribute and collect all the material without wasting too much class time. Think of commands you can teach your students that are simple to understand and use them to follow instruction and learn key language at the same time.

If you want to involve your students, place the material so that it is easily accessible, not only in an open cupboard but also at their height where they can actually reach. You need to think how they are going to be allowed to take and put back the material and how they can be responsible for it. Setting up different groups can be an option or pairs of students responsible on alternate days can work. To ensure you still have material in good condition at the end of  the year my suggestions are: involve your students when placing and labeling the material and use group pressure to help stop naughty students from spoiling the group’s material.

Even if it’s not your classroom you can always ask for a little space where you can store and label your English class material. This helps students to reinforce the classroom vocabulary and can add some excitement when using different material during the English hour.

What’s the situation like where you teach? Do parents contribute to the school’s materials? Do the children need to buy books every year or are they loaned? I’d love to hear what it’s like in other places.

Welcome back to school!