What you put on your classroom walls are not just pretty decorations. They can affect how your students learn. So before you put welcome signs, alphabet streamers, and colorful bulletins, remember the unspoken rules of classroom decorations:
Display the work of your students.
Make space for the volcano dioramas and watercolor portraits. This can affect their emotional well-being. For one, it boosts their confidence. Students feel validated when their work is displayed for everyone to see. They develop a sense of ownership of what they did, so they’re more likely to remember the lesson that you had for that project.
Moreover, students become motivated to accomplish the next tasks. When displaying student projects, try including everyone. Don’t just show the best in class. You want every child in your class to feel that boost in confidence and motivation, right? If possible, show the ongoing work, too.
For instance, if they’re in the process of making paper mache mountains, display the unpretty, unpainted, masking-tape-riddled pieces. You want to highlight to the class that the process is as important as the finished product.
Don’t cover all your walls.
You don’t have to occupy the walls entirely. That’s exhausting. Also, doing so will do more harm than good. Visual clutter interferes with memory and concentration, things you don’t want your pupils to struggle with. So keep the clutter away from the walls. Leave at least 20% of the walls bare. If you wish to have new displays to enhance the look of the classroom, replace the ones already there. Besides, some decorations might be no longer useful.
For instance, if you’ve already tackled the multiplication table so many times, it might be reasonable to take that chart down. Make way for new posters, maps, or graphics that reinforce lessons. As for the student displays, take them down after a week or so. Ask your class to bring them home.
Feature role models.
Images or quotes from real-life “heroes” can be inspiring and educational for kids. So include these in your classroom decorations. But don’t stop after sticking them to your walls. Talk about them. Maybe allocate a few minutes before or after one of your lessons to discuss their lives. Divide the class into smaller groups and arrange the floor chairs in a way that will make the setting more cozy and informal.
Flash some guide questions on the board to get the groups talking. Synthesize your insights as a class after the group discussions. With this exercise, your wall decorations can become more meaningful to the class.
Don’t show student scores or grades.
Some teachers use charts to keep track of their students’ grades. This works for the achievers in the class. However, how about those who lag? It backfires. It makes them feel ashamed and creates a sense of inferiority. It can also be a source of bullying, with the high-performers looking down on the ones at the bottom of the class. So avoid this at all costs. Keep the scores or grades a private matter. There are lots of ways to inspire kids to excel.
Overall, what you stick on your walls matters to your students. Don’t think of them as mere additions to your space. Be sensitive to the dos and don’ts of classroom decorations.
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