It’s time to stop decorating your classroom. Sure, it’s important to put your best face forward. But displaying works better – and takes less time. Just make a simple shift in your classroom beautification strategies.
Ms. Sneed Wants the Ultimate Classroom
Our favorite fourth grade teacher was visiting Pinterest again. All of the gorgeous classroom decoration pins had her drooling. “This year,” she told her teacher friend, “my classroom will be Pinterest-worthy.” She showed Mrs. Abdullah some of her designs.
“Wow! This is ridiculously gorgeous!” Mrs. Abdullah exclaimed. Ms. Sneed beamed.
“Have you considered how any of this will increase learning?” Mrs. Abdullah continued. Ms. Sneed’s face fell.
“Furthermore, how will our principal get evidence of good teaching when he walks through?” Ms. Sneed looked like she would cry.
“Now, don’t fret,” said Mrs. Abdullah. “This is all beautiful. But decorating your classroom takes a lot of time. And it doesn’t really show what your kiddos are learning. You need to let your walls do the talking.” Ms. Sneed perked up a little.
Simplifying Your Teacher Life
Unfortunately, Mrs. Abdullah was right. Ms. Sneed had lost sight of a decent work-life balance. As the year progressed, she tried to grade less. As a matter of fact, she took less work home with her.
In regard to her classroom, Ms. Sneed also developed a new mantra: Don’t decorate. Display! She saved time. Furthermore, the walls of her classroom showed evidence of learning. When the principal came to visit, he told Ms. Sneed that the student work on her walls actually improved her teacher evaluation score.
Let’s take a look at some of the ways Ms. Sneed created classroom displays.
Decorating Your Classroom with Student Writing
Ms. Sneed displayed a lot of student writing. She often asked students to illustrate their work, which added to the beauty of the bulletin board. This fables display was one of her favorites.
Ms. Sneed looked for purposeful ways that she could turn projects into displays. For example, this astronaut research project included photographs to place next to student research.
Reinforcing Concepts with Anchor Charts
Although she hadn’t used anchor charts often, Ms. Sneed decided to give it a try. She found that creating questions ahead of time effectively guided her discussion. Engagement and learning improved. Additionally, she had a good looking graphic to hang on the wall. Who knew that decorating your classroom could be this easy?
Decorating Your Classroom with Learning in Action
Somehow, Ms. Sneed had never thought of moving learning to the walls. In the past, activities stayed on students’ desks. When she hung this set of arrays on the wall, a surprising thing happened! Kids were up, moving, and super engaged.
Trying Some Interactive Displays
As she looked for new ideas, a new world opened up for Ms. Sneed. For example, she combined this pi timeline with some paper plate pi exit tickets. Voila! A beautiful (and educational) display.
Showing What’s Happening in Your Novel Study
One day, Ms. Sneed took down an old bulletin board. “What can I put here?” she wondered. The class was reading Elephant Run. “Hmm, could I display their summaries, vocabulary, and these maps?” Instant display! Ms. Sneed realized that ways to display learning are endless. (And there’s no need for decorating your classroom.)
Displaying Task Cards
Ms. Sneed loved task cards. But they were making a big, ugly mess on her table. No problem! She purchased a cardholder and slapped it onto an empty spot on the wall. As a permanent fixture in her room, the teacher just changed up the task cards. Whether students were working on whole numbers, geology, or parts of speech, the task cards were up and ready to go.
Decorating Your Classroom with Concepts
When Ms. Sneed taught science, she asked kids to make generalizations. Instead of just an oral debriefing, her students now created a visual display. Once again, her new policy of displaying student work improved learning in her classroom.
Stop Decorating Your Classroom – Display Instead!
Finding ways to create displays is fun and easy. When you stop decorating your classroom, you will save time – but it will still look fabulous. Furthermore, every person entering your space will see evidence of learning between (and on) those four walls.