Classroom decorations should motivate, then educate
Monday, May 02, 2016
Look to your left, then look to your right. If you saw an inspirational sign on each side, you are most likely in a teacher's classroom. Classroom walls that were once filled with equations and historical facts now include more motivational phrases than ever.
As the daughter of an algebra teacher, I can remember many summers spent inside of teacher resource stores, walking down each aisle looking at the colorful signage and unique accessories as we searched for new decorations. But even more than that, I recall when my mom started looking for classroom tools everywhere outside the resource store.
Instead of focusing on subject-based decorations, the central theme in her classroom became "believe." In nearly every focal point, you will see the phrase in a different artistic form — 13 "believe" signs (and counting) in one room. What I've always joked with her as being overkill is actual the perfect reinforcement tool.
The truth is students need encouragement to go along with their education. As a teacher, you assure that students learn subject matter efficiently to pass benchmarks and excel to the next level. Teachers give students all the insight possible to prepare for every challenge, but motivation is a key component to success.
According to a study, U.S. students spend 11,700 hours in classrooms between kindergarten and senior year of high school. In addition, students spend another 400 hours in classrooms during college. Though classroom structure remains synonymous, it's formative design has the power to discourage or invigorate students.
Here are a few things to remember:
A classroom should be a comfort zone. Regardless of grade level, a classroom should be an environment for all students to feel welcome. A new school year can frighten some, placing importance on creating a space where students feel included. A well-designed classroom will reflect the persona of the teacher, and spark an understanding that students can freely be themselves.
A classroom should be a think tank. Students should be able to think freely and explore the inner workings of their minds in a classroom. As teachers provide more and more information for growth in subject matter, students should also be growing their mental capacity. A classroom should be a place where students are constantly questioning, and using their own growing forethought to find the answers.
A classroom should build a community. Technology has placed an ever-growing gap between the current generations. They're constantly separated by devices and even social roles, but the classroom causes all lines to disappear. A well-designed classroom can forge a community of forward thinkers and establish an environment for ideas to grow. By merely providing students with a place that offers security and encouragement, an effective community is able to grow.
Teachers should use each new year as an opportunity to re-evaluate and configure a new arena for teaching. Whether new or tenured, decorating a classroom can become a chore without the proper planning. Always consider these features before designing your classroom.
How old are your students? Teachers can easily become forgetful of their audience when looking at useful tools. Remember that a classroom should capture students' attention and make them feel a sense of comfort. Don't be afraid to use memes or other visuals to grab their attentions.
What are phrases to make them think? Use vocabulary to stretch the span of students' thinking. A great idea is to pose question that require a little imagination as decoration. Whether boredom or brilliance hits, students will have a brain teaser.
Does it spark past lessons or aide future lessons? Reinforcing already learned material is a guarantee for each teacher, and tools to aide with that are always ideal. It's also great to use wall space to showcase future lesson components that can easily reinforce or redirect when stumped.
Would it motivate you at that age? Despite an age difference, inspiration is pretty universal. Teachers must be able to recognize whether items are truly motivating and truly question the grasp of the tool. Placing yourself into the shoes of the student to discover if it's honestly eye catching or thought provoking.
A classroom design should be a reinforcement of everything a teacher did and did not say. As students take exams, they are left with their thoughts and a blank page. At this moment, students should be able to tap into their knowledge and also their confidence. During the moment they feel discouraged, let your words of encouragement ring all throughout the classroom.
Inner motivation is a skill that kicks in when you're at a crossroads and also a tool you take with you beyond your educational journey. Classroom decor can have a subtle, yet longstanding effect on the learning experience, easily separating a solitude from a simple meeting ground.
Today, classrooms are not only for educating, but inspiring future leaders in the community.
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