how important is classroom decoration

How important is classroom decoration?

For a relative newcomer, in my terms anyway, Pinterest has made quite an impact on the world, particularly on the world of the classroom.

If you’re in doubt, just Google ‘Pinterest classroom’. Your search will bring up hundreds, indeed thousands, of ‘best’ classroom décor ideas.

Decorating classrooms seems to be the thing of the moment. It would be easy to believe that an elaborately decorated classroom is of greatest importance to teachers today. While we always did it (decorated our classrooms), we didn’t share and compare on social media. How could we? Social media didn’t exist. Oh, horrors! Really? Really. Pinterest is not only new to this century. It’s new to this decade, and the sharing phenomenon isn’t exclusive to Pinterest.

Concerns about harmful effects of social media messages on young, and not-so-young, people’s body image are often expressed. I wonder if there may be similar harmful effects of these classroom images. If teachers compare their classroom décor with that of others, perhaps in very different situations, will they constantly come up short? If they spend copious amounts of time, and money, on decorating their room, how much will they have left for professional reading and planning? As with body image, are these images sending the wrong message?

While I agree with the importance of setting up a bright, welcoming classroom, I also believe that space must be left for the display of children’s work. While I don’t believe in the bare wall theory as proposed by some, if there is too much on the walls, and particularly if they didn’t contribute to it, children may either ignore it or simply find it distracting.

What do you think? Do you remember the walls of your childhood classroom? Mine were mostly bare. I don’t remember anything other than a Crucifix (I went to a Catholic school), a photo of the Queen, and a flip book of large cloth charts.

What about your children’s classrooms, or your own (if you are a teacher)? How are they decorated? I’d love to know your thoughts.

flash fiction prompt to write about an epic workplace

While I had been contemplating a post about Pinterest classrooms for a while, this week seemed the perfect time, even if this isn’t the post I had been planning. You see, Charli Mills at the Carrot Ranch challenged writers to In 99 words (no more, no less) write about an epic workplace. It can be real or imagined. Go where the prompt leads.

Most of my working life (and all of my school days, which together equate to most of my life 😊) has taken place in a classroom. I had brief tilts at other minor roles, but overall, the classroom has been my workplace. With a career spanning five decades (but not fifty years – yet), I think it could be categorised as epic.

However, rather than tackle my career, I realised that Pinterest-Inspired Classrooms fitted neatly into the EPIC acronym. as long as I could find that exceptional ‘e’ word. This is my response. I’d love to know what you think.

It’s EPIC

Roll up! Roll up! Come one, come all. This new attraction will have you enthralled. Bring parents, bring partners, siblings and friends. No one’s excluded. It’s Earth’s latest trend. Your eyes won’t believe. Your ears won’t deceive. It’s a sensory explosion, for all to explore. It’s entertaining, electrifying, edifying too. It’s a universe first, and it happened on Earth. It’s empowering, engrossing. There’s so much to see. With no space left empty, it’s elaborate, exciting, extols energy. With exquisite exhibits and enlightening exposures, it’s the most, enticing, enriching, educational environment, established on Earth. It’s EPIC, the Exceptional Pinterest-Inspired Classroom.

Thank you blog post

Thank you for reading. I appreciate your feedback. Please share your thoughts.

53 thoughts on “How important is classroom decoration?

  1. fourthisfantastic

    I’ve taught for 17 years now and my classroom is far from Pinterest worthy. I think some may get caught up in trying to outdo each other on social media with their class decor. I suppose I’m hopeful in thinking that most are doing it out of a desire to just share their thoughts and passion for decorating.
    I’m personally pretty minimalist in my decorating. If it’s on my walls, for the most part the kids have helped create it and/or it serves a purpose in the room. Great post!

    Like

    Reply
    1. Norah Post author

      Thanks for reading and commenting. You seem to feel a similar way to the way I do about classroom decoration. I enjoyed seeing the photo of your classroom on your blog. I hope we enjoy many teacher discussions, there and here.

      Liked by 1 person

      Reply
  2. intentionalclassroomdesign

    When walking into classrooms, I like to ask students “what’s this display about?” After a short amount of time you get to understand who has decorated the class and for what purpose. More often than not it is the teacher who has spend a lot of time laminating, cutting and gluing inspirational quotes, colourful pictures and labels everywhere. The students have no connection to the material and it serves no purpose. The lack of student input into the space is the common mistake.

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply
    1. Norah Post author

      Exactly! I am in favour of children’s work being displayed and children having input into the display. They need to have a sense of ownership as well as belonging.

      Liked by 1 person

      Reply
  3. Miriam Hurdle

    Hi Norah, when I went to school, we had those desk with the lid open, and no decoration on the wall. When I was teaching, I spent several days before school started to decorate the classroom, using grade-appropriate materials. I used borders to separate the wall space into many sections. As time went on, I displayed student-works in subjects such as reading, arts, science, social studies, and student profiles. Every student’s work was up on the board. During parent conferences, the students are proud to point out their works to their parents.

    Like

    Reply
  4. Jennie

    Ah, Pinterest. My least favorite teacher go-to place. I’d rather pick up things at the dollar store. I can barely get my head wrapped around focusing on the decor rather than the activities and the children. My classroom is mostly natural with plants and wood instead of colorful plastic. It allows children to feel relaxed and comfortable. and to focus on each other and activities. I must say that Pinterest does have some good craft activities. Your flash fiction is a perfect spoof on just this. Well done, Norah!

    Like

    Reply
  5. robbiesinspiration

    I read your flash over at Charli’s blog, Norah, and I thought it was good. Having this background does make it even better as it provides more context to your thoughts. I don’t recall my classroom walls at all so I suspect they were bare. The desks were interesting, those old-fashioned ones with a lid that lifted up and you put your stuff inside. The seats also lifted when you stood up which was often to answer any question or greet any person.

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply
    1. Norah Post author

      Thank you so much for reading and commenting over at the Ranch and here, Robbie. It’s interesting. Most people are saying they don’t remember their classroom walls, or not much about them. I think what children remember most is a kind teacher who inspires them to learn, not an extravagantly decorated room. The comments are supporting my theory.
      I used to have those wooden desks with the lids that opened up too. In fact, they were still in use in my first couple of years of teaching. They were joined in pairs and bolted to the floor – vastly different from the movable furniture used now. I don’t remember the seats lifting though. But we did have to stand up to answer a question or to greet a classroom visitor. It doesn’t happen now.

      Liked by 1 person

      Reply
  6. Jules

    I do believe that over stimulation can be harmful if not just plain annoying. The children especially of younger grades need to be employed and empowered to create their space.

    You reminded me of a time when I was in charge of two year (almost three) year old children.
    I had reversed the colors of the lady bug. And it was only after a parent pointed it out that I realized my error. But I still thing the children had fun with counting spots and had some feeling of accomplishment with gluing. 😉

    I have not gotten involved with pinterest. I had gotten an invite when that program first started. You needed an invite then. After a huge time span of looking around – I decided that it wasn’t for me. To pine for those things I couldn’t have was depressing. And I didn’t need a bulletin board on a public space to display my wants.

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply
    1. Norah Post author

      Hi Jules, Thanks for sharing your thoughts on these issues. I agree with you that children need to be empowered to create their own space. They need some sense of ownership and belonging.
      Your ladybirds sound cute. I wouldn’t worry too much about them. There are all different colours of ladybirds in books. I don’t think the children will have minded or be forever scarred. 🙂
      I’ve not gotten into Pinterest either, though the way you describe it in your last sentence is the way it was described to me, too. I had thought it would be a way of keeping track of articles to read or things to write about, but I rarely remember to use it. So I’m not sure if I can blame its lack of value to me on it, or on me. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      Reply
      1. Jules

        When one of the first social media things came about there were some games that were … how is the polite way to say “Time Eaters” – yes I was thinking of a different word than eaters… you had to build your city or farm and gain points by interaction with others – I’m not sure what the value was other than a way to place advertisements to the masses. But I’ve never been one to be a sheep lead to bleat the same boring tune. So perhaps the value to me (us) is that I (we) learned to use time better?

        Liked by 1 person

        Reply
          1. Jules

            ‘They’ say we can make time for the things that are most important and not to feel guilty about that which we cannot do. When we do our best and forgive ourselves our faults if we have any or many… 🙂 then we can freely move on to what is next.

            Like

            Reply
  7. Mabel Kwong

    Like Charli, I wasn’t aware classroom decoration was a thing. I Googled classroom decorating and Pinterest and wow, those are quite some fancy classrooms, complete with throw cushions and themes. It must cost quite a bit to decorate a class like that (with both teachers and students footing the bill). I remember when I went to school classroom decoration was limited to the long large pinup board at the back of the classroom. Here we put up our artwork that we did in art class, and the teachers would put up important things we should know like the Periodic Table. It was pretty much all handmade and something my class could call our own 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply
    1. Norah Post author

      I’m pleased you checked out the classrooms on Pinterest, Mabel. I wasn’t exaggerating! It would cost teachers a lot of their hard-earned money to decorate their classrooms so extravagantly. While they do look lovely and the children would enjoy it, I don’t think teachers should have to do it from their own resources. In fact, they don’t have to, it’s their choice, but the pressure (from each other) seems to be there. I think what children will remember most is a kind-hearted teacher who inspires them to learn.
      I like that you remember your own work being displayed in the classroom and having feelings that it was a space you could call your own. Thanks for sharing.

      Like

      Reply
      1. Mabel Kwong

        I also agree with you and don’t think teachers should have to foot paying for a decorated classroom. You are so right that children will remember the teacher the most – someone there to guide them and make their days fun-filled. A decorated classroom should just be an added bonus 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

        Reply
  8. Annecdotist

    Thanks for introducing me to another way of making hard-working people feel inadequate! It seems obvious to me that whilst can/should be decorated to assist learning (and therefore not overstimulate) and to display the children’s work (which is part of the process of assisting learning). I love how your flash parodies the over the top attitude of some.

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply
    1. Norah Post author

      You got it in one, Anne – ‘another way of making hard-working people feel inadequate!’ and of spending their hard-earned money.
      I’m pleased you saw the flash as a parody. I didn’t want it to be taken seriously.

      Like

      Reply
  9. Charli Mills

    Norah, I didn’t realize classroom decorating was even a thing, although I do recall the student-crafted artwork of earlier grades and educational posters and pull-down maps of later years. College classes were bare and my brief class was what I planned to introduce to students as our “blank canvas.” I did stumble across the Pinterest classrooms and holy smokes — some looked like the lounging area of a swanky Starbucks! It made me feel sad for the teachers already strapped and trying to supply students who can’t afford the ridiculous lists of school supplies. Now, this EPIC-ness, which only highlights the growing gaps between wealthy districts and struggling ones. Ah, but I appreciate your lighthearted stab at the showboating of EPIC in your flash.

    Liked by 2 people

    Reply
    1. Norah Post author

      I think it’s only become such a thing in the last few years with the advent of social media. Instagram seems to be the same too. I don’t notice it quite so much on Facebook or Twitter. I guess Pinterest and Instagram are both more for photos. I do worry that teachers are under pressure to outdo each other in decorating their classrooms. As if there is not enough other pressure. What the children will remember most is the relationship with a teacher who touches their lives, not the decorations on the walls. When I saw figures this week about how much teachers in the US earn, I am appalled. How they can possibly afford these extravagances is beyond me. I used to spend a lot on resources and most of it wasn’t on decorating the classroom. It was on stuff for the children to use and do.
      I’m pleased my flash worked. It was a tough write, trying to get the genre and the flow right, and I know I didn’t quite get it, but then, it had to be 99 words. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      Reply
      1. Charli Mills

        I don’t know how they could afford it either unless these are photos of private or charter school which are becoming ways to cater to wealthier districts. Which is also an appalling trend when other teachers are bringing food to their classes.

        But on a happier note of discussion, you are using the flash fiction as a tool and thinking about how to write your stories. That’s great!

        Like

        Reply
    1. Norah Post author

      Thank you, Patricia. I’m pleased you like the story.
      I agree with you. There are many wonderful classrooms beautifully decorated with children’s work – just as it should be.

      Like

      Reply
    1. Norah Post author

      I agree with you about what really matters – the children’s work! I always had a few welcoming posters, but most of the space was for children’s work. 🙂

      Like

      Reply
    1. Norah Post author

      Thank you, Geoff. I’m pleased the flash worked. I have to admit I don’t pay a lot of attention to Pinterest myself. I sometimes think I must have a go and pin something and do, but then don’t for months until I think of it again. I don’t think it’s effective that way. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      Reply
  10. Molly Stevens - Shallow Reflections

    Terrific flash, Norah. The classrooms of my youth had a banner above the chalk board that displayed the alphabet. I don’t recall any Pinterest worthy exhibits. I do remember thinking it was a lark to be the one to clean the chalkboard at the end of the day. Maybe that’s why I’m a minimalist and love to see bare spaces on my walls. I am also not one to decorate my desk area at work like some do. I work better without distractions so I’m wondering if children do, too!

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply
    1. Norah Post author

      Thank you, Molly. I’m pleased you enjoyed my story. I also appreciate your sharing your classroom memories. I can remember liking to clean the chalkboard (we called them blackboards) too. The most fun part was hitting the two dusters together and making clouds of chalk dust go everywhere. It took ages to dust it off our dark green uniforms. 🙂
      Reports of studies show conflicting evidence about displays being distracting. I’m not sure if it’s still the same, but the Montessori school near me didn’t display anything on the walls to avoid distracting children. I think it’s good to have some things about. In fact my classrooms used to fill up pretty quickly with children’s work or charts we’d made together – not so much with things I’d printed out.

      Liked by 1 person

      Reply
      1. Molly Stevens - Shallow Reflections

        I loved to hit the two erasers together! What a sad state that our children today don’t get to do this! It’s interesting that the evidence is mixed on the displays in classrooms. I like the idea that teachers get to channel their own creativity in doing the displays, but I like the concept of children filling the classrooms with their own work. In general, I work better without clutter, noise, or excessive decorations. When the clutter piles up, my mind does, too. I know other people who aren’t comfortable unless every space is filled with some sort of Knick knack or object. So perhaps that’s the reason the evidence is conflicting – people are sooo different!

        Like

        Reply
  11. calmkate

    lol love the idea, one lady posted how her ten year old daughter redecorates her entire room to reflect each change of season … paint colour to her own art and favourite sayings … love the creativity! Am enjoying unpacking and decorating my own home … 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply
  12. Susan Scott

    What if the children were asked what they would like on the walls? Or let them select from images – eg horses in a field, birds flying, whales, dolphins, images from fairy tales – a few lines of poetry, the national anthem – but to keep it calm and not overly busy. Research what colour stimulates eg creativity-
    I like your flash Norah! Got quite caught up in the rush and epic-ness of it!

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply
    1. Norah Post author

      I like your suggestion about involving the children, Susan. I think it’s easy to get caught up in the frenzy of decorating ‘our’ rooms, when really the rooms belong to the children too.
      I’m pleased you enjoyed my epic flash. 🙂 Thank you.

      Liked by 1 person

      Reply
    1. Norah Post author

      I don’t think quality teaching is dependent upon an elaborately decorated classroom. Your children will remember you for the ways in which you inspire them, not what’s on your walls.

      Liked by 1 person

      Reply
  13. dgkaye

    Loved the flash Norah. My recollection of the walls in school always had a few hue cork boards where the student’s artwork was on display. I don’t remember stark walls. As for Pinterest, I don’t have any spare time to spend there. I used to send lots of posts there and don’t even do that anymore. There are only so many hours in a day. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply
  14. Sarah Brentyn

    😀 This whole thing is great. (Love the flash!) I don’t use Pinterest for inspiration anymore because of the amount of times I’ve had EPF (Epic Pinterest Fail).

    I can’t even remember the walls of my schools. Hmm… I’ll have to think on that. When I taught, though, I decorated (not at the university, of course, but in grades 6-8). I had fun with that. When I taught a unit on poets, poetry and poets went up. When I taught that Harry Potter workshop I wrote, the place was transformed with into a tiny Hogwarts. But, I agree with you about it becoming background that’s not noticed or a distraction. I think each teacher should do what he or she feels is best for everyone (teacher’s happiness and students’ attention). 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply
    1. Norah Post author

      Hi Sarah, I think you’re sensible to not compare your work with others and do what you feel is best. As you say, that is what we should all do. Sometimes it is good to get an idea or two from others. It’s the competition and comparison that can be counter-productive and work against teacher happiness rather than improve it.
      I love the sound of your classroom displays celebrating poets, and then as a tiny Hogwarts. What fun. The students would have loved it.
      Thanks for stopping by to read and share your wisdom.

      Liked by 1 person

      Reply

I appreciate your feedback. Please share your thoughts.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.