In my many years as a teacher, I have rarely had my own classroom. I have either taught in other teacher’s classrooms on a cart, or shared a classroom with one or sometimes even two other teachers. Therefore, I have never worried much about what should or should not go on the classroom walls besides my precious question words and a few basic commands.
But this year, I have my own classroom, and once I put my usual minimum stuff on the walls, there was A LOT of space left. What to do? “Super Seven”, “Sweet Sixteen”, rejoinders, cultural posters, etc.? I honestly was worried it would be too overwhelming and distracting for my students.
So, I decided to post nothing and waited to see what needs would emerge.
After a few weeks, I realized I really needed some time markers. Since we were constantly interacting in the present, the past and the future, I had to have a quick way to let students know whether I was talking about today, tomorrow, yesterday, last week, next week, etc. So this is the first set of posters that went up:
A few weeks later, I took down the screen that I never use (I project straight onto my whiteboard) and added what I call my “Usual Suspects” (to be, to have, to go, and to do) and four of the Sweet Sixteen. These are the phrases my students and I use the most apparently:
A few weeks later, I prepared a poster that I absolutely LOVE and will reuse in my future classrooms: “How to address the Queen and the Crowd”, basically essential “vous” or “usted/ustedes” forms. I point at this all.the.time when I address my students. I also have a crown in the classroom and sometimes a student becomes queen for a day and I address her with “vous”.
I am currently preparing a poster for the side of the room with the usual suspects and the four of the sweet sixteen in the past / present / future.
It is such a luxury (to me) to have classroom walls, I really wanted to make sure I would not overwhelm or distract my students, or force upon them what I thought was important. Instead, I just waited to see what language needs emerged and placed posters up accordingly and gradually.
How do you decide what goes on your walls?
I love this process of letting it emerge organically. In my last year in the classroom I was using a lot of space to post One Word Images and less space to post words, but since then I have seen some wonderful classrooms where the OWIs are posted along with the story that was created, building a much more meaningful text-rich classroom than a typical word wall.
Yes! I also post my OWIs at the back of the room with our story typed-up in bigger font. But because it is in the back, my students don’t get to see them as much as the words in the front of the classroom… Food for thought for me. Thanks for your thoughtful comment.
That is so wise of you! It can be tempting to put up MANY things – and it can be hard to live with white space! But I love that you waited to see what your students needed. It’s very Montessori of you 😉 At the beginning of the year, the Montessori classroom looks almost bare. There are a minimum number of “works” put out for the children. And over time, they add more and rotate. Then the children are not overwhelmed.
I am also jealous! I do not have my own classroom. How did you deal with that when you were a “nomad”? You mentioned a cart. But did you hang any posters and such at the beginning of your classes?
Your comment about Montessori schools is fascinating! I had no idea. I am sorry you don’t have your own classroom, I have been there so many times. Honestly I learned to live with a minimum: there was usually a space for me on one wall where I could put a few things such as my calendar, question words, and job list (for Elementary).
I totally agree with your method to go with the flow of need. A Feng Shui specialist gave me advice when I finally got my own classroom 2 years ago, and she highly advised against clutter. I have pictures of my classroom but I don’t think I can post them here. But my favorite element is the light and the olive tree that brushes against my windows…;)