Social media and social pressure have made decorating your classroom a competition of who will get the most “likes” when they post a picture of their classroom. Between Pinterest and Teachers Pay Teachers and the popular Cricut machine, teachers, especially new teachers, feel pressure to deal with their classrooms as in need of “extreme makeovers.”
You do not need a Pinterest-worthy classroom to create a positive classroom environment. Although administrators who do classroom walkthrough evaluations look for certain classroom environmental factors, they are not looking for it to be a photo-shoot prepped space as seen on a before/after cable home channel show. Keep in mind that their opinions matter more than how many hearts you get on Instagram.
Check out What Administrators Look for During Classroom Walk-throughs before you break open that Cricut machine.
Follow these guidelines to make your classroom “learning worthy” this school year:
- Keep it relevant: Everything you put on the wall, hang from the ceiling, design for a bulletin board, or stick to your whiteboard should have a purpose. Are you trying to reinforce content? Are you trying to build a community? Are you trying to celebrate successes? Are you trying to establish routines? All of the above? Be intentional. Be judicious with your choices. Be clear, concise, and captivating!
- Keep it engaging: Visual displays like signage, posters, and bulletin boards only make a difference when students engage with them. If a sign is ignored, its directions are not followed. Bulletin boards need to be more than decoration; they can be interactive. Another way to keep it engaging is to change the decor periodically so that it doesn’t become like wallpaper that no one ever notices. Find out more about interactive bulletin boards here.
- Keep it organized: Clutter in a classroom causes chaos. Even if it is created by a Cricut machine or purchased on Teachers Pay Teachers. Even color-coordinated decor, to excess, can cause a sense of unease for children. No amount of brightly colored plastic bins meant to hold your quickly expanding classroom library will lead to increased reading if there are too many or they are disorganized within. It’s important to consider your space and its capacity and not “fill it to the brim.” Find out how to set up your classroom for minimized distractions here.
- Keep it current: As you go through the school year, ensure that current student work is posted, current projects displayed, current topics heralded. Treat it more like a rotating collection at a museum and not grandma’s attic collecting a lifetime of memories and dust.
- Keep it real: Remember your classroom is not your Facebook page or your Instagram feed; you shouldn’t use a wrinkle-smoothing filter or an attention-grabbing frame to make the real life of a classroom surreal. Current events, students’ interests, practical creature comforts will all help you to “keep it real.”
- Keep it legal: Two aspects of decorating your classroom could break the rules! First, every school is inspected every year by a fire marshall. There are rules to how much of wall space is covered with what type of materials as well as whether or not you can hang anything from the ceiling. Know your fire marshall rules before hanging those vowel umbrellas from your ceiling. Second, many districts restrict what you can post with student identifiers on them. Often, you cannot post student grades or graded work. Know your school’s rules on this issue.
Don’t worry if it’s not Pinterest worthy; Don’t over-decorate. You’ll just overwhelm your students, make your administrators and parents dizzy, make it more difficult for you to manage, and more challenging for the custodian to clean!