katherine zagotsis
Highly Accomplished Teacher. AAC Communication Partner & Advocate. Mum of one. Accidental Leader. Reflectionist, Mentor and life-long learner.

Engaging Now! 7.4

Demonstrating 4.5

Classroom Setup 2019

January 26, 2019 | Focus Areas: | | | | | | | 0 COMMENTS

Physical Spaces

In Week 0, we were lucky enough to be given a generous amount of time to spend setting up our classrooms.  This included the option of removing some of our excess furniture or resources to be used somewhere else.  I like to consider how well the physical space was working the year before and then make necessary changes, so this worked well for me. I had a couple of storage items that I wasn’t making use of, so got them out of the space first.  I didn’t change the layout of where the children work and eat as it it’s well-spaced out already. I also have several of the same students this year and some of them would not be too impressed if I change things around too much. The one thing I did add was two chair bags to store books in. I’m not too sure how successful this will be, but having books in the other room led to them being ripped and I want to try and encourage appropriate use of them by modelling.  I’m hoping that by having books on hand will also lead to more moments like this one:

“But where is the green sheep?” “Restaurant.”

In the next room, which is used mainly for exercise and play, I did make some minor adjustments, moving the trampoline, putting the fit balls in a different corner and removing the ball pit.  The final room I considered was the smaller sensory room. Last year I made it darker and added some fairy lights, which I made sure to get tagged and tested when I saw the team who does that for the school. In this room I also have a large crash mat, some bean bags, a rocking horse, wooden trolley and a few blankets, including a weighted one (this I store up high as it poses a safety risk if used unsupervised).  I was happy with where all of the above, but I also keep a storage unit with drawers full of toys in this room.  Some students last year were able to play with all of the toys appropriately, but upon reflection, some of them that I had out were too small for the students who tend to mouth objects.  Although this student was always closely supervised, I’m taking into consideration what may happen if myself or the SSO are away.  The smallest toys I have out at the moment are the trains that go with the train-track and I may remove those as well as most students are more interested in working out how to put two pieces of the track together rather than using a train on them.

I also have the same student who got into the habit of pulling the entire tray out and throwing all the contents across the room. (Another safety issue and also frustrating to pack up).  I spent a bit of time sorting out the larger toys, making sure I included the favourites and labeling the trays. I would generally use visuals or photos for labels, but I’m thinking that maybe the inclusion of some written words in the classroom may be helpful.  What I may do is add a visual to go alongside the word.


Visual Environment

As I’d been away sick in the final week of last year, the first thing I did was to remove the visuals of the students who were moving to different classrooms, either passing them onto their next teacher or putting them into the confidentiality bin. I’d already had locker and tray labels made up by our lovely resource SSO, so put these up next. I’ve unintentionally ended up with a lot of blue and green, which seems to be nice and calming. Next, I cast a critical eye over what other visual information I had left, seeing that I had some extra number and coloured visuals, so removed them as well as last year’s calendar. I left the A3 low-tech ProloQuo2go Core Word board on the window as it kept falling where I had it earlier. Then, I set up the daily schedules, ensuring that each had a student photo attached.  I also spent a little time in the toilet area, attaching photos of each student to their drawers, thinking that it would make it easier for relief staff to find each student’s belongings.  The last visual aspect I focused on was something new I want to try after having a look at the elaborations in the pre-foundation levels of the Victorian Curriculum.

I’m aiming to meet these two content descriptors:

  • Respond to objects being moved and organised to make a data display (VCMSP016)
  • Experience data display being interpreted(VCMSP017)

Victorian Curriculum/Level A/Mathematics/Statistics and probability

and planning to achieve this by encouraging and assisting each student to move their own or their classmate’s photo to the relevant column.  I’m hoping that this will bring more awareness of their peers as the year progresses.

Work Systems

I was quite happy with how these were working last year, but knew that I needed to sort through each tray and make sure it was visually organised. Tasks are organised into coloured folders and there’s a corresponding schedule with coloured squares to represent each folder. (You need to do these 3 folders, then you can choose).  I also knew that some of the work I had for one particular student had become tedious, so removed some of it. In addition to these trays, I also have a slightly different work schedule, stored in upright trays, numbered 1-5. Last year I had 3 students using this set-up, but at this point I’m guessing that I’ll be using two. I tend to use this method for students who are able to work more independently or for students who present as anxious, I find that they often like the work to be further separated and don’t appear as overwhelmed.


I seem to have trouble with this every single year. I know that Swimming is on Wednesdays and because it’s at a different location, takes up more of the day. I’ve booked the Sensory Room for the same day, because with having to fit in eating and one Yardplay, there’s not going to be much time for anything else. My NIT is on Thursday this year and I had a chat with the teacher who is happy to cover both Health & Art. I’m hoping to fit in a focused Literacy & Maths block on both Monday and Tuesday as well as attempting to include shared reading at the end of each day.  Cooking, which I’ve tied in with Science, will be on Friday (like usual, ha). My intention is to have a focused Design & Technology session on Friday morning, but I’m not entirely sure that’s going to fit with school priorities. I also need to fit in a Gym session somewhere during the week, but am waiting to hear back from the Physio director to see if I can be involved in that program again and if so, on what day.  During induction it was also mentioned to allow 100 minutes of time per area of study, so what I really need to do is look up time allocations for each subject and see where I’m lacking or where I’ve focused too much on one area.


I chased down our IT SSO to ask (nicely) if we could have iPads ready to use by the first day. He got back to me within the next half an hour, carrying two iPads, with ProloQuo2go installed on both and SeeSaw on one. My two classroom SSO’s immediately started practicing phrases like “Hello, goodbye and Yardplay.” I did the same thing myself soon afterwards, but focused more on the Self-Talk folder e.g. “I am okay.”  The other communication-based task I did was to organise the QR codes to send home to families to sign up to use SeeSaw. I also decided to request additional permission from families, sending home a letter that needs to be returned with a signature.


  • Add visuals to toy storage
  • Add birthdays to class calendar
  • Rework class timetable


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