If you follow my Facebook or Instagram pages, you know that I have just begun moving into my new speech room! It is a very exciting time. I love being able to decorate the space and make it my own. Here's a sneak peek for you (a full blog post will come later):
So if you are a brand new SLP like me or are moving to a new classroom, here's a few steps to help get you started:
1) Tour your room early, if possible. I had the opportunity to tour my school and room about a month and a half before my contract was set to begin. I knew I had the summer free to dream up the perfect room and then find supplies to make it happen. It gave me an idea of which areas could happen, such as my book nook (pictured above). It also showed me that I had a certain number of filing cabinets, which meant I did or did not need crates, etc to supplement and add storage.
2) Set a budget. As a newbie with no income, it was difficult to swallow the realities of the cost of setting up a classroom. I had one friend tell me she spent almost half of her paycheck her first year to pay for decorations, bulletin boards, and books. I was determined not to do this, because I knew it wasn't realistic for me. Set a dollar amount limit that you want to keep your costs under and stick to it.
3) Prioritize your wants and needs. For me, a rug was a huge priority. My floors are all tile. Not only did I not want to sit on the bare floor or have my students sitting on it, I felt a rug would add to the room and make it feel more welcoming. By making a list of your top priorities in your room, you will be able to better stick to that budget.
4) Ask about any restrictions regarding decorations. One of my friends is in a school that has very strict guidelines about decor (in fact, it's a whole teaching philosophy). Some may allow you to do whatever you want. There may be fire codes you have to follow. You may not be able to put boxes close to the ceiling. You may not be able to hang anything from the ceiling. Check into these before doing anything.
5) Make it yours. You can try and make it such that it will appeal to every child. What I have learned is that not every child will appreciate it or enjoy it, no matter what you choose. You are the one who will be spending the majority of the time in the office, so it needs to be a space you are comfortable in as well. Obviously, it has to be kid-friendly and should be fairly gender-neutral.
6) Gather ideas. I started a Pinterest board just to collect all of the awesome ideas I found. If you are interested, check it out my board here.
7) Consult other professionals. I asked a lot of others about what they felt was necessary in their speech room. This helped give me an idea of what I needed to purchase ahead of time.
8) Inventory everything. I like to create a list of everything that is in the classroom so that if I am ever stuck, I can go back through that list quickly. Otherwise, I would be stuck going through my materials closet frantically. It may take some time at the beginning of the year, but you won't have to do it again, and it will serve as a great reference throughout the year.
9) Label everything that you own. The last thing you want to happen is for your favorite game to walk away. The school needs to know that it is your personal game/ activity.
10) Try not to stress. It is really easy to get stressed out about this closet or that bulletin board. I am a perfectionist, so I tend to get stressed out when little things are slightly off. It's something I'm working on. I'm also learning to enjoy the process and that everything will come together in the end.
Those are a few steps to get you started. I hope starting in a new position or starting in a new room goes smoothly for everyone this year! I'll be thinking of you, especially since I'm in the same situation!