I never really gave classroom design much thought. As a teacher, I made some conscious decisions about the classroom, but it wasn’t something that was important to me. And it took me a while to figure out why it is important for students.
The first time I really thought about intentional classroom design was when I became an administrator. Early on the first day of school for students, I was visiting classrooms with another administrator. About halfway through our visit, we entered one classroom that completely shocked us. Upon opening the door, we realized that the classroom walls were completely bare.
Not a single poster. Not a single decoration. Nothing.
Empty, bare, white walls.
We noticed all of the classroom decorations lying on a table in a pile.
As my colleague and I left the room, we chalked it up to a teacher who was unprepared. Nothing was done because the teacher had made the decision NOT to arrive before school began like the rest of her colleagues to prepare. Maybe it was a case of laziness. Maybe it was a case of someone who was completely overwhelmed. It was definitely an intentional decision. While my colleague felt that it was simply unacceptable, I wasn’t sure what to think. Would someone really choose to not decorate their room?
We decided to circle back to that classroom one more time before we left the building. We wanted to ask the teacher when the room would be decorated.
“I let the students decide what gets hung on the wall,” came back the simple response, more obvious in hindsight.
It now became crystal clear to me. This explained the pile of posters on the table. This explained the empty, sterile walls.
This was an intentional decision.
An intentional decision about classroom design.
Students should have a say in how their classroom looks and feels. After all, they work there 180 days a year too.
As you prepare for the school year, be intentional about your classroom design. Think about your why and your students’ why. Give students a voice in the setup of the classroom.
It’s important for students. Consider using the Classroom Design Checklist from The SECRET SAUCE.
To purchase a copy of The SECRET SAUCE: Essential Ingredients for Exceptional Teaching, click here.