During the back to school period, teachers spend a lot of time thinking about how to decorate their classroom, and then even more time bringing those ideas to reality.
But it can be very helpful to let your students share in some of the fun. Not only does it ease your workload, but it also helps them feel at home in the room. Engagement strategies always pay off. Here are some ways to let them in without stressing yourself out.
Give them a bulletin board
A great getting-to-know-you activity at the beginning of the year is to let the students plan and produce their own bulletin board. You might want to offer some ideas (family photos, favorite hobbies, and favorite books are always popular), but otherwise let them run wild. You’ll be surprised at how well they’ll work together, setting the tone for the rest of the year. All that’s left for you to do is source the supplies.
Invite them to bring in an object
Think of this as show-and-tell throughout the year. Invite the students to bring in some sort of object from home. Remind them that favorite stuffed animals and other small objects that can “walk off” probably aren’t good ideas, but interesting and original tchotchkes can really make the classroom feel like home.
At the beginning of the year, students should be given some input on the rules of the classroom and the processes they need to follow during common tasks. While you are working these things out, appoint students to make posters of what comes out of the procedure. Hang the posters and then no one has an excuse about forgetting a rule.
Leave the arrangement flexible
Instead of spending a lot of time worrying about the arrangement of your desks, leave them flexible and let the students use them in the ways that serve the various tasks at hand. If you’re not comfortable with complete flexibility, let them have some input in the arrangement based on what works the best for them. Just don’t be surprised if they vote for small group tables so they can sit with their friends.
Teachers sometimes think that their classrooms are solely their domain. Letting the students help decorate can help them realize that the space is their workplace as well.