This year is my 14th year in education. While I've been out of the classroom for several years now, all the back to school posts always seem to get me thinking. I was an elementary teacher and honestly, I always hated creating bulletin boards and making my classroom look 'cute'. Now with so many educators on Pinterest, I think many teachers put pressure on themselves to have their classrooms look like so many they see on Pinterest aka 'Pinterest Perfect'. When I see many of those classrooms, I find myself rolling my eyes because I feel like our time could be better spent.
My goal as a teacher was always to make the classroom as comfortable and inviting as possible for the kids. On the first day of school, I usually had table groups set up but I didn't assign seats. They chose where they would sit. The kids would sit in those seats until we decided it was time for a change. When the time came to change things up, I'd let the kids decide between a couple different set ups. They loved having a voice in the look of the classroom.
When I taught third grade, I had a huge bulletin board in the hallway. And honestly, trying to figure out what the heck to put on it really stressed me out because I knew all the students, teachers, and parents in that wing would walk by it. I couldn't tell you what I put up there for the first couple years but I do know it was all my doing. The students weren't involved. Then I came up with an idea. I wanted it to be a place where the kids would showcase their work and I wouldn't maintain it-the kids would! So I covered my bulletin board with black butcher paper. Then I stapled colored construction paper that I'd cut to be a square shape that would serve as a border or frame. The best part of this was that I put a binder clip at the top the colored construction paper so each student could put their chosen work on the bulletin board. This idea turned out to be a winner! The kids loved choosing what they were going to put up and there was always a variety of content. Since I didn't take a picture, here's one I found on Insta that's similar, although much cuter! Give Amy a follow while you're at it. She has some other great content!
If I were to go back to the classroom tomorrow, I'd would do my classroom in an "Under Construction" theme. Which basically amounts to yellow construction tape over all the walls. My whole goal would be to let the kids decide what how we would use certain spaces. They would be the designers of the classroom because when it comes down to it, it's their learning environment.