I have noticed that as students get older, the classrooms that they inhabit can get a little more boring with each passing year. As a secondary teacher, I try very hard to keep my classroom just as visually stimulating and exciting as a primary classroom. Here is a tour of some of the decorations and ideas I have had for my classroom:
I have a LOT of color in my room (as you can see). I also like to keep my desks in groups to encourage collaboration time in class. Some of my tables are groups of 6 and some are groups of 4. I actually prefer to have all groups of 4, but when I do that the classroom becomes too tight to easily maneuver. For the table groups of 6, I split them down the middle to have smaller groups of 3 for labs and various activities.
I made this tree my first year of teaching. I wanted to fill an empty and boring space by the front door of my classroom while also making it feel homey and bring the outdoors into the room. On the first day of school I had my new students cut out a leaf and write their name on it. I then added their leaves to create our ‘family tree’. My original intent was to write a personalized message on each of their leaves that I would then give to them at the end of the year. Well, after signing all of their yearbooks, I did not have much left to write on their leaves. I also did not have the heart to take them down after they graduated and left. So, there they are- still on my wall and now serving as a constant reminder of my ‘roots’. And, for those of you really paying attention- yes, that is a toilet seat hanging on the wall (my bathroom pass). Tree made with construction paper and decorated with markers.
This is actually something I saw on Pinterest and re-created to put in my classroom. I firmly believe in helping my students understand that learning is a process and that they need to be patient with themselves. I have noticed that more and more students feel the need to be perfect and are frustrated when they get anything less than 100%. This poster is such a good representation of the different levels that you pass through as you learn and is a great reminder that we all start at novice. I wish I knew who the teacher was who first came up with it so I could give credit where credit is due. Made with butcher paper and cheap wrapping paper from the dollar section at Target and wrapped on old cardboard.
Like most teachers, I am constantly receiving no-name papers and don’t have time to try and find their rightful owners. I came up with this idea over the summer and this is my first year trying it out. So far, my students love it (as do I)! Now when they ask if there are any no-names I just say “check the graveyard!” and many of them come back with their paper! Win-win! Made with construction paper and a hanging folder hanging from push pins on the wall.
“Isolation Island” is a concept that I have been using since I was a first year teacher. I have always had a separate table to send kids to when they needed a little separation from distractions; however, this is the first year that it was actually decorated! I wanted to decorate it so that the students who go there don’t feel as if they are being punished (they aren’t!). I also wanted it to seem fun and friendly so that they are more likely to choose to send themselves there when they need some separation. Now, when I tell students to head to the island, I don’t get an attitude (again: win-win!), they go to their island oasis where they can focus on the task at hand and get their work done away from distractions and friends. For those of you really looking closely, yes that is a lei on the wall that they can wear while they are at the island! The decorations came from my local Dollar Tree and I hand-drew the letters on plain printer paper and created the basic background with construction paper.
I like to keep my white board in the front nice and neat with dividers made with plain borders. It not only helps me stay organized, but it helps my students to know where to find specific information for my classroom. The 5 sections I have it split into are: daily agenda, daily warm-up, general space for demos & notes etc, science fact of the day and lastly: general announcements.
I have a LOT of books in my classroom. A lot. I have a shelf that is all teaching books, one shelf dedicated to science books (the subject I teach) and then I have a shelf dedicated to fun books that my students might be interested in looking at or borrowing. I think it’s important to show your students that, as an adult, you still read for both educational purposes as well as for pleasure.
As a nod to the subject I teach, I have some framed pictures of famous scientists (I think this is both fun and educational). The bins below the photos are covered in wrapping paper and are used for collecting classroom “tickets” (a reward system I use in my classroom).
Well, that is my secondary classroom. I have put a lot of thought into the layout and what is displayed around the room. I hope you enjoyed it and that it serves as inspiration for your own classroom and needs!
-The Ardent Teacher