Classroom Design vs Classroom Decorations

I saw this photo on Facebook and it made me smile, but it also made me start thinking about a presentation I attended during ILA.


I believe as teachers we want to provide our students the best possible experience they could have with us, right down to the coordinated name tags that match the border trim, right?

I don’t think there is anything wrong with wanting a beautiful room. But I think we sometimes get caught up with making our room look “pinterest-ready” and forget why we have our classroom in the first place. To Teach! To Inspire!

Beyond that first day of school, your children will not appreciate the beautiful-ness as much as you do, eventually you will also appreciate it less. Last year, I put up so many decorations, I am surprised the Fire Marshall didn’t rip me a new one. All the new posters I bought and the colorful and helpful writing tips weren’t used to help to my students like I envisioned, they were there to cover up blank space. I even had this awesome light strip that went along the blackboard that changed colors throughout the day! But after about a week, the novelty wore-off and it just became more wallpaper (it also died after I left it on over a weekend LOL).

But that’s just it, it was all wallpaper for my students, and it became wallpaper for me too. Think about your classrooms, what did you put up that eventually turned into wallpaper for yourself? Or posters and “anchor charts” that were seldom used, if used at all?

Yes, our classrooms should look great, and they should be inviting, and there are some things that function great as wallpaper (I have some fun reading banners I like to hang, they add to the beauty of the room, but they don’t do much for students) I limit myself to just putting up a few.

Before you hang something up (or bring something in), ask your self these questions:

  1. Is it beneficial to the students learning? Will they actually use it?
  2. Could this potentially turn into wallpaper? 
  3. Is this something that would turn out better and more useful if the students created it, or if we created it together?

The last thing to consider, is your classroom ready for students and what they can contribute? Will they walk into a room that has little say for their input, one that says “This is MY classroom, and MY decorations, you are just visiting my space.”? Or will they walk into a room, that while still beautiful, invites them to contribute their ideas. “This is OUR classroom, and I have decorated/designed with some of MY things, but I want US to design/decorate the rest, your ideas are equally valued in this shared space.”

Lets transform our classrooms from “Pinterest-ready” to “Student-ready!”

“Classroom environment is a strong and effective teacher… silent, but powerful.”

– Jane Wellman-Little 2009





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