4 Tips for Teachers – Decorating Your Classroom
It’s here, it’s here! School is finally back!
And like all good little teachers, I am more concerned with how my classroom is decorated than how prepared I am lesson plan wise. I don’t usually post much school-related stuff (other than complaining about how little time I have for everything else!) but I couldn’t help but get excited about this up and coming year.
Those 6 weeks of holidays just flew by…but of course, I’m not complaining! For the first time EVER I managed to go an entire holiday with only picking up my work computer once! I am even surprised with myself!
This is because I put my last week of term in 2015 to good use. Reports had been finished for a mere 24 hours, and already I was planning, prepping, and practicing for my Year 4’s in 2016. I was lucky enough to know exactly which class, with which children, in which room I would be teaching this year. Unfortunately, not everyone can be so lucky!
It wasn’t until this week, however that we got a final confirmation on the topics we would be teaching this term, so my last few days saw me busily squirrelled away in my classroom designing and constructing some beautiful and interesting (I hope!) displays for my Term 1 content.
The good news is that primary kids are such vacuums for knowledge, and having your classroom nicely decorated will help reinforce the lessons that you teach every day. Whether it be information walls, class rules, or simply some motivational posters, students will appreciate the reminders for when their understanding needs consolidation. The bad news is that, no, having your classroom nicely decorated will not make everything go more smoothly. Research has shown that having classrooms that are TOO highly decorated can, in fact, distract children from the very lessons you’re trying to teach them, so it’s important that a balance can be found.
I feel that even though I am in my 5th year of teaching, I still love finding out new and effective ways to decorate. You’re never too old to learn something new! So in honour of all my teaching friends out there, I thought I would share some of my favourite decorating tips for a primary classroom.
Teacher Tips for decorating your classroom:
#1. A decorated classroom helps make a happy classroom.
School can be quite a daunting place for many students, especially for those with specific learning needs or social anxieties. Having a calm, visually appealing environment can really help some students to feel more welcome and valued. Motivational posters with slogans such as Kathleen Kryza’s ‘This is a Risk Taking, Mistake Making Classroom!’ can help kids feel that they are in a place where they are accepted and help them to feel more capable of giving things a go. Displays that directly involve the kids help to give them a sense of belonging.
#2. That being said, don’t be afraid to have some blank walls – especially near the whiteboard.
If you are going to be teaching and directing the students attention towards any particular place quite regularly, you would do well to make that area as plain as possible. This allows students to more easily focus their attention on you, especially those with an attention deficit who may find visual distractions quite enticing. I have quite a large classroom and have made use of the space by using furniture to separate it into zones (i.e reading, group work, computer workspace etc). I try to keep as many of my displays away from the white board as I can, without it being too boring!
#3. Decorations do not need to cost a million dollars.
I don’t know about you, but I could easily collect dozens of different knick-knacks for my classroom displays. On the holidays I went to a magical place called EDSCO. If you’ve not heard of it, I’m not going to say much more – I don’t want to be held responsible for your decrease in dollars! All I will say is that it is a place where it is very easy to spend hours and lots of money (both of which I did). I went there with the intent of finding some new and interesting displays. However as it turned out, in the end most of my classroom decorations did not come from Edsco, they came from my own hand, my printer, and my laminator – plus a few supplies out of the arts and crafts cupboard. Something I particularly found useful this year was a couple of plastic tablecloths I picked up from the $2 shop – these made the perfect backdrop for some of my more involved displays, and were also great for covering up those yucky parts of the room, such as the back of a bookcase!
#4 Students work makes the best displays of all.
This is another upside of having some blank walls at the beginning of term – you have plenty of space to hang and display student work. I much prefer walking into my classroom day after day and seeing all the things that my kids have achieved while in my care. All the learning that they do. This helps encourage me to also provide lessons which are much more interesting than worksheets and bookwork as I have to show it at the end of the day! I even like to half-finish a display and leave plenty of space for the kids to add to it with their ideas. The classroom looks that much more like a place of learning and the kids have some ownership of how the room looks as well – another tick off the list of student empowerment!
Hopefully you’ve got some good ideas of your own, but you’re more than welcome to use any of mine! Here’s to another fabulous year of making a difference in 2016!