Every teacher’s joy. After all, most of us have a summer break
free from work and –
Well, I almost wrote that with a straight face.
Most of us do enjoy a well-deserved break during the summer months, but many of us also use this time to plan, rework, and create (because who has the time during the school year to revamp units? AmIRight?)
We leisurely stroll to Independence Day by traveling, reading, going to the bathroom on our own schedule, and staying up late whenever we want. Then, out of the blue:
Overnight, they filled store shelves to the rim with backpacks, glue sticks, and highlighters. Yep, school starts next month.
All the school things remind me it is time to start a plan for the upcoming school year. Typically, I start with a plan for my room decor during the first part of July. I’m not a matchy-matchy, color-coordinated kind of teacher (but I love the look of other teachers’ color coordinated classrooms). I try to keep my decor focused on content. One: I have a room with funky walls and not much space. Two: I don’t have the energy to change stuff up every month (kudos to all you elementary folks). I keep my decor super simple. Three: I can no longer use my comfy couches (Thanks, COVID).
Our choices in classroom decor set the tone for our student’s learning. It’s important. Even though I’m not matchy-matchy, I strive to create a warm, inviting environment for learning. Three concepts I keep in mind: lighting, simplicity, and content.
I don’t have windows in my room. I also have glaring fluorescent lights. ICK! So I purchased some Edison lights on a string and attached them with plastic zip ties to the suspended ceiling frame. When I need bright lights (like never – except on standardized testing days), I use the overhead lights; otherwise, I click on the Edison string and call it good. FYI: I found a remote plug-in at a home improvement store; it came with a remote fob that I use instead of plugging and unplugging the lights. The Edison lights create a warm, cozy atmosphere.
I really don’t enjoy decorating. I embrace this truth. I don’t force myself to create a themed classroom – although, I am kind of jealous of my teammate who has wonderful Harry Potter stuff cleverly displayed in her room. Instead, I make it simple. My bulletin board does not change (GASP!) Kudos to all you elementary teachers. I couldn’t do it. Instead, I pick up complementary scrapbook paper squares (most hobby stores have these as loose stock), and create an attractive design on my bulletin board. I post necessary items throughout the year: daily schedule, activity calendars, library hours, the QR code for making an appointment with the counselor’s office, etc. Done. Easy-peasy.
On my back wall, I hang posters I made of our state standards with descriptors. Our district has an amazing print shop. I’ll send them an email of a crazy idea I have, and they tell me they can do it. It’s fantastic. I have the posters arranged by text, writing, language, and speech standards. Throughout the year, I reference the standard the classes are working on and emphasize proficiency expectations. It occupies a difficult space (accordion walls built in the 1970s that no longer move) and serves content purposes.
In the front of my room, I have literary and rhetorical terms posters. I had a hard time finding rhetorical terms, so I created my own. Yup, I emailed our print shop and they could print full color, 12 x 12 cardstock AND laminate them. Students use these All, The, Time. The full-color images are clear, attractive and include examples from well-known authors and historical figures. You can pick up a PDF with 24 terms, definitions, and examples at my Teachers Pay Teachers store.
I wish you all the creativity you need to make the best decisions for your classroom environment this year! Share your classroom decor ideas in the comments. Enjoy as much of the summer as you can!