Elementary ESL/ESOL Classroom Setup

5 Essential Elements to a Classroom Setup

Setting up my classroom so that my students WANT to be there is always a goal, but even more important is setting up so that I want to be there. I like to incorporate elements that bring me joy, like bright colors, lighting, functionality and organization. As an elementary ESOL teacher, I typically don't have a classroom, or "space," to call my own, but I've been very lucky the past several years, so let me show you my 5 essential elements to setting up a classroom. ✨

My Elementary ESOL Classroom Setup


Lighting is an important element that really impacts mood (especially mine, LOL). I like a calm and relaxed setting, so I have a variety of lighting elements which allows me to choose whether or not to have the overhead lights on. The overheads are usually off, which is how I like it, and the kids do too. 

Around the main whiteboard, which is the focal point for most of my lessons, I hang string lights. I double them up, so I purchase 2 boxes to really give significant light in this area. I prefer that the string is white so that it blends in with the white cinderblock walls.

When the overhead lights are off, this looks amazing!

In this next picture, the overhead lights are on, but the string lights really add a fun element. I use small clear Command hooks secured to the wall using a hot glue gun in order to get the lights just where I want them.  

My classroom is small, about 200 sq. ft., so on the opposite wall I hang more lights which really makes the whole room glow. I put string globe lights on the back wall, just one box, but I doubled up the string and hung them just along the top of the wall. 

I have a couple of small lamps, one at each end of the bookcases. The one on the right is a lamp I had in my kids room when they were little. I changed out the lamp shade to a light neutral weave shade (to give off more light); and the lamp on the left is a really cool touch lamp from Amazon, which I'll link at the bottom of this post. 

That touch lamp is awesome. It has 3 light settings, a USB charging port and turns on and off with just a touch of the base.  

The last lighting element I added this past year was an LED light strip to put around the perimeter of the bulletin board. It wasn't long enough to go all the way around, but it did fit perfectly around the top and 2 sides and really added an extra wow factor to the room. It's controlled by a little remote and has a variety of colors and settings to choose from. This one was purchased at Target. 

Classroom Rug

This is one of my favorite elements. I love the colors and pattern. The rug anchors the room and provides and real homey feel. This rug is from Wayfair, and the size I have is 6'7" x 9".

Classroom Displays

At the beginning of the year, I have just a few staple displays up on the walls. As the year goes on, more displays/resources are added, but these are the things I put up at the beginning of each school year. 

First up is the calendar wall. I include weather and season posters, along with some sentence frames. These posters are referenced a lot throughout the year by my students. 

I had a new room this past year with a large bulletin board that I covered in black fabric and a colorful welcome sign (sign from Target Dollar Spot). Once I started working with my students, this became a language function board. I also hung up a world map with flags, which my students loved exploring!

Some other displays that are up at the start of each year are a "A Sentence Must" display. This is one of our first lessons at the beginning of the year and is referenced throughout the year.

 Also, 5 W & H Question Words are printed on brightly colored neon cardstock and hung over the whiteboard. 

For a few years I had a room that that had a large fabric wall, so I sectioned the wall into 3 displays. One section for the sentence writing display, one for a language function board and a third, which started off the year displaying student work, then changed to a multiple meaning words display. 


My technology set up- I use a projector almost everyday, so having a place directly across from the whiteboard, in this case a short bookcase, is a must. I also use a document camera, so this space is dedicated for those important instructional tools. 

There are only 2 outlets in this room, so having some long extension cords and hiding them behind furniture is key to pulling off all the lighting and technology. 

Notebook Storage

Lastly, let's talk notebook storage. Each student has a notebook in my class, and their notebooks stay in my room. These crates really do the trick in keeping the notebooks organized and easily accessible. Inside each crate are 3 magazine boxes which are labeled with group numbers. 

 And there you have it, my go-to beginning of the year ESOL classroom setup. Ultimately, it comes down to these 5 important elements: 
  • lighting
  • color
  • wall displays
  • technology
  • and organization

Here are some links to items found in this post. The Amazon links are affiliate links in which I earn a small commission when purchased. This does not impact pricing in any way.

ESL Classroom Setup

ESL Classroom Setup


classroom setup

ESL Classroom Setup

ESL Classroom

ESOL Classroom Displays

ESL Classroom Display

 Happy teaching, Friend!  Talk to you soon.

-- Kristen

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