To Decorate or Not Decorate...That is the Question

Secondary Classrooms: To Decorate or Not To Decorate?  Read more:

I love looking at all the cute elementary teachers' classroom pictures. There's something so magical and inviting with all the colors, rugs, story time areas, and cute tiny tables and chairs.

Then, as students get older and the desks get taller, classrooms start to turn...well, a little bland.

What happened to the bright colors?
The rugs on the floor?
The polka dot curtains?
The decorated doors?

Are those things reserved just for the tiny tots in the primary grades? To be honest, I don't think I could picture students in chemistry class sitting around little decorated chairs doing a lab experiment, could you? And if you let high school students sit on a carpet square in the room for story time, wouldn't they just fall asleep? And wouldn't group desk formations encourage cheating?

These are all excuses we high school teachers come up with because, quite frankly, who has time for this?

There are syllabi to copy!
Lessons to plan!
Rosters to load!
Apps to be ran!

Yet, elementary teachers do many of these things and even though they may only have 30 students to our 150, they do have prep work that does not involve decorating. So perhaps high school teachers just decide that classroom aesthetics aren't that important.

But...are they?

Do you decorate your high school room? If so, how does it impact the learning environment, if at all?

I've actually given this a lot of thought because I like a colorful room. I love hanging memes, quote signs, and posters relating to the novels we read. And an English classroom wouldn't be complete without books! These things count as decoration, right?

I think having a happy-looking room will brighten the students' moods. At least I hope it does. I've never done any formal research on the topic, but would love to see a study about this for secondary classrooms.

So I'm going to share some of my classroom pictures that may not be as colorful or organized as my elementary teacher friends', but I love my classroom. :)

I have almost an entire wall in my classroom lined with bookshelves. As my classroom library grew, the wonderful custodians in my building added the short oak bookcases--one-by-one each summer. Three years ago, our new counselor redecorated one of the rooms in her office and no longer needed the tall bookshelves, so our custodians--knowing how much I could use them--surprised me by adding them to my room. (Did I say already that I have THE best custodians!?)

I also think plants make any room feel more warm and homey.

Use books & plants to brighten up your secondary classroom Read more:

On the window by my classroom door I added the previous years' "book selfies" (this is a FREEBIE in my store). Students love to look at the books their classmates recommend each year, so I continue to add to them each year as I get new book selfies from students. I will probably have to extend the display onto the door as it grows. I love that the first thing they see walking in and walking out are books.

Book selfie display in a secondary classroom  Read more:

Another simple tip is to add fresh flowers from your yard (or the neighbor's, if they don't mind!). Flowers make everyone feel special and students DO notice these little things. It's simple and it really does help with creating a more cheerful mood and adding a fresh scent. Just be aware of allergies--some flowers have pollen that may spark hayfever or other allergic reactions. 

Use fresh flowers to add a special touch to your secondary classroom  Read more:

Don't neglect the ceiling; it's a way to display student work and add a 3-dimensional feature to your room without cluttering the walls or using valuable board space. Here, I displayed student collage mobiles and trading cards. Both are great back-to-school activities.

Use the ceiling to display student work. Read more:

I usually use my whiteboards for displaying student work. One thing I learned from elementary teachers is to use bulletin-board borders on my whiteboard to separate sections. I have one section I use for making announcements and displays students who were featured in the newspaper for various achievements.

Display student work in your secondary classroom

Use colorful borders to create sections on your whiteboard   Read more:

Interactive bulletin boards are also very popular with secondary students. It gives students something to read and interact with before, after, and during class if time permits. This one is a banned books display in a social studies classroom.

Banned books display in a secondary classroom

Memes can be fun reminders of your classroom rules, policies, or just to supplement your instruction. And we all know how much middle and high school students love memes, so don't be afraid to add them to your decor.

Memes can spark student interest  Read more:

Please share how you "decorate" your secondary room and feel free to link up a post to your blog or website. I'd love to see more examples of secondary rooms! And thanks to all the elementary teachers out there who bring color and joy into the lives of millions of school children each year.

This post is featured on the TeachersPayTeachers (TpT) Blog. You'll find many helpful articles for secondary teachers there!

Secondary teachers: Do you decorate your classrooms?

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