Classroom Decor – Why our Efforts to Stimulate Students Become a Pinterest Nightmare
In recent years, teachers have begun to take their classroom decor to a whole new level. Perhaps the rise of Pinterest and the determination to have the “perfect-looking” classroom have played a role in this trend. But is classroom decor becoming too much for teachers and students? At what point should teachers say enough is enough? Some things to consider:
It takes a lot of time
Teachers spend hours in their classrooms in the days and weeks before school begins, plus extra time throughout the year. Many of these hours are spent beautifying their spaces – from hanging bulletin boards to arranging and rearranging their classroom libraries, teachers go all-out to create the perfect spaces for their students. Spending time on these projects takes time away from other meaningful tasks, such as planning lessons, preparing small group activities, and even enjoying those last few days of vacation with their own families.
The students and parents don’t care or notice
Ouch – this one hurts to think about, but it’s true. While students and parents will certainly notice a bare classroom or a very stimulating one, they are highly unlikely to pay attention to all of the variations in between. A teacher may create a certain look because she enjoys a particular theme, but she should not expect high praise from her students or their parents for doing so. A room that looks welcoming and organized is more than sufficient. As long as students feel safe and cared for, you don’t need to worry about making sure your word wall matches with your nameplates – you are probably the one one who would notice (well, you and your grade level teammate).
Whose classroom is it anyway?
Teachers need to remember that their classrooms really belong to their students. Certain themes or colors may be attractive to some students, but may exclude others. Pink pastel owls may seem like an innocent choice for a classroom theme, but I can think of a lot of first grade boys who wouldn’t enjoy starting at owl garb every day.
If every nook, cranny, and wall of a classroom is covered in teacher decor, a student is unlikely to view that area as his/her space. When a student sees his/her own work on those walls, they develop a sense of ownership and pride. If students have a part in creating the anchor charts they see on their classroom walls, they will be much more likely to notice and use them as resources. Teachers can use their classroom decoration to define physical spaces and what they used for. Teachers can create a sense of organization without going completely OCD with classroom decor.
Sometimes it’s too much
Have you ever been in a classroom where there is just so much going on that you wonder how the students can even concentrate? Visual stimuli are great for most students – but not all students benefit. Students with learning disabilities or attentional issues may be extremely distracted by the overuse of classroom decor. Minimizing distractions, including visual distractions, is key for students who need help focusing. Making sure there some distraction free “zones” in your classroom may benefit your students more than filling up every space with decorations.
Creating an inviting physical space gives teachers a feeling of control and organization in an otherwise chaotic profession. Approaching classroom decor with balance and purpose will save teachers time and sanity as they remember that the biggest focus should be on the students themselves.