Although this doesn't get you started on day one, I would say that having the students do the decorating is a wonderful way to make them feel at home and to instantly convey the notion that it is their class, their space. Their work is the focus; their work is valued.
Another thing to consider is whether you want stations, or want a classroom that can easily be reconfigured to accommodate learning stations (a table with iPads, a table with art supplies and paper, a table with letters that can be manipulated, a sand tray to help students with learning disabilities and kinaesthetic learners, a table with flashcards). I am a strong believer in self-paced, self-directed learning and think every school week should include at least one or two hours in which students choose their activity and pace--even if you have to narrow the choices down to only two: Puzzle or iPads? Peer reading circle or illustrating and colouring today's terms?
Each unit you teach will produce something that can be displayed on the walls.
Maria Margaritis incorporated students' colouring pages and stickers in a quiet alcove.
Students love to see their own work displayed on the wall. Everyone benefits from seeing what the other teams came up with. Our walls are a constantly changing gallery of learners' work.
When you succeed in creating a sense of community in your class, the learners will feel empowered to take over many tasks, such as throwing birthday parties for each other.
In one corner of my whiteboard, just under the day's date, I write any announcements, such as "Friday: no school." Students learn over time to keep an eye on that part of the board in order not to forget important events and information.
Students in my class also quickly learn that retrieving prior days' worksheets after an absence is their responsibility, not mine. I find that students of both my classes TRULY appreciate this system.
You may want to keep an easel chart at the front of the class for a list of words that you will revisit throughout that week's module.
Students remember the lexis when they have illustrated the new terms. These posters stay on our classroom walls for a week or two and then move to the computer lab for the rest of the school to see.
Some teachers post frequently needed phrases and gambits on a bulletin board, along the wall near the ceiling, or keep them at the ready for certain activities.
word walls. For a while I had one poster for every vowel sound we learned to decode in CVC and vowel team patterns, but I found that over a period of a year or more, this system did not render much bang for our buck.
One thing I can think of that is really important to have on the wall is an exemplar of what the expectation is for a particular task. I put up a copy of the rubric or checklist we'll be using to measure success on a task as well as what success looks like. For example, this is uniform printing. This is not. These sentences each have a capital and period. These do not. And so on. (I seem to have lost the photo of my printing exemplar poster. Sorry!)
One of the first activities Maria Margaritis did with her Foundations learners was on names of the colours. Their pastel creations soon covered one wall and instantly transformed a sterile little room into a safe and welcoming space.