Part Three: Decorate the Walls
They don’t prepare you for this in college: the moment you see the bare-bones, institutional box that you are expected to transform into an inviting classroom…in two or three days. It’s a daunting task for veteran and new teachers alike, and it has to be redone every year.
Once you have arranged the furniture and covered your bulletin boards, put a little time into decorating the walls of your classroom. You will need some posters or wall decorations.
There are many sources:
Shop for educational and motivational posters you find at teaching stores, office supply stores, and DOLLAR STORES, which are often a lot nearer to you at any given time than a teaching store.
Ask veteran teachers in your school if they have extras to give or lend you. Most teachers have a lot and are willing to share!
Required posters, like for curriculum programs, character education programs, whatever the school gives you and insists you display.
I prefer relaxing and beautiful artwork to school posters. I have assembled cool artwork from around my house, DOLLAR STORES, cut-up calendars, discount stores like Ross and TJ Maxx, and poster sales. You might also find that your parents or relatives have canvasses or framed prints that could look good in your classroom.
Ideas for if you have no posters:
A quick homemade poster of class rules. Principals like to see this display. Don’t make your rules too complicated! It’s just a poster; it’s not magic and it won’t inspire kids to behave like little angels. Just write a few be-safe-and-respectful type rules and get on with it.
If you can’t get your hands on decent posters before school starts, fill the walls with grids of construction paper ready to display student work.
Using black marker on construction paper, write BIG and use several pieces of paper to illustrate basic educational concepts. Six traits of writing, vowel sounds, mathematical operations, whatever. Just keep these really bold and graphic.
Use pieces of construction paper or butcher paper to create blank graphic organizers or thinking maps. Put clothespins on each piece of paper so you can clip things to the map during the year. Here is a simple example.
You can hot glue clothespins to the wall, then clip posters or construction paper to them. You can put student work out as soon as the kids arrive. Click here for a good example.
How to hang your pictures and posters:
If you are lucky, your classroom’s walls are easy to work with. You can hang things up with pushpins and staples.
More likely, you have a classroom lined with cinder block walls. It is really hard to hang things on them, but not impossible. Here are some ways to affix your posters and decorations:
Hot glue holds the posters really well, but will come off the wall when you are ready. With hot glue you have to work quickly, so an extension cord can let you dot the glue as you hang. A quick Internet survey showed that hot glue is the hands-down favorite for hanging things on cinderblock walls. Get a glue gun Wal-Mart, Target, or a crafts store.
Adhesive products: I like the 3-M mounting strips and sticky stuff. Get it at Wal-Mart or similar stores.
Adhesive products with Velcro: Get these at Wal-Mart or similar stores. You get a sheet of squares with velcro. Arrange them the way you want on your poster and put the Velcro that’s gonig on the wall right on the Velcro on your poster. (You do not want to mess with trying to line things up!) This will hold a while, but not as long as adhesive products without Velcro or hot glue.
Framed pictures are nice because you can drill into the wall, set up a hook, and hang them. (Confession: I don’t know how to do this; my dad always did it for me. But here are some online directions.)
Part One: facing an empty room
Part Two: Cover the Bulletin Boards
Part Three: Decorate the Walls (this post)
Part Four: Basic Management Systems