teachin' school

teaching tip 9. decorate your classroom!

{originally posted on 8•5•13 | updated on 8•18•14 and 8•24•15}

my favorite thing to do at the beginning of the year is to decorate. it’s time to get focused on the year ahead and have a little fun being creative.


i didn’t start out so well with decorating. and it’s not what you might think when i say that. i over-decorated. i had gotten it into my head that i must have a room of only Mary Engelbreit stuff. i just thought that was what a teacher’s room looked like. i had seen a teacher use it and it was so homey. however, i think that maybe i was using the mindset of an elementary school teacher rather than a high school teacher. i over used all of the crap that i bought. i must have used the ENTIRE line of the stuff. i also spent a fortune. we’re talking like $300 or more. it was ridiculous. so i switched it up the next year.

decorating your room is important.  it creates an environment that is organized for learning…if you do it right.  have another teacher look it over to see if things flow and make sense.  i always stage a quick run through with a teacher friend so i can see it from a student’s perspective.  they’ll feel more at ease if they walk into an environment that is predictable, comfortable, and organized.

click HERE for my 2015-16 classroom tour.

click HERE for my 2016-17 classroom tour.

here’s what i’ve learned:

1. choose a theme.
i suggest you go with something simple like two basic colors. for example, pink/lime green, brown/red, blue/red, etc. i have been using black and white as my base colors for the past two years and plan on doing it again. the advantage of using the same colors means that you just have to buy “updates” instead of all new stuff. so for example, the only things i bought for this coming year were three borders and two blank posters.

2. keep it simple
it’s best to keep everything at a minimum. you don’t need a poster on every inch of the walls. three motivational posters is more than enough. utilize your bulletin boards. change them up by using different borders and background paper. i love color. that’s how i interject it into the room rather than throwing stuff up on the walls. use small tables and bookshelves to keep things spaced and organized around the room. ask other teachers where to find these types of things or ask them if they have extras. it may take a few years to figure out exactly how you want it.

3. make it flow
it sounds dumb, but walk around the room like the kids would. sit in their chairs and look around. make sure that the locations of your turn-in trays or supplies are easily accessible. put yourselves in the kids’ shoes. it needs to work for them and not necessarily for you. yes, it is more convenient to have the turn-in trays near your desk. but is it the best place for the kids?

4. store your junk correctly
at Mardel or any other teacher supply store, they sell these cardboard or plastic contraptions to hold your posters. i highly suggest you get one. they’re worth every penny. and i made one for my borders using a long piece of cardboard and some packing tape. it’s so much easier to find things if they’re laying flat and all in one place. plastic bins and boxes with lids are so a lifesaver. they keep out the dust (and bugs!) and are stackable.

5. do a border exchange with a group of teachers
this is a fun way to get “new” borders or other materials without actually buying any. it will be in smaller amounts, but it may give you a starting point if you’re completely redecorating or just something to shake up your old look.

6.  stick to your budget
you can spend a fortune buying things for your classroom.  set an amount and stick to it.  in the beginning, i spent over $300.  i didn’t even realize i was doing it until i added up the receipts.  i was just excited.  now, i know better.  i don’t spend more than about $60 at the beginning of the year.  and the supplies i buy then are for the whole year.  i may need to buy some pencils, pens, paper, etc. but that’s it.  (i am a high school teacher though.  if you are elementary, you may need to get creative with your buying.)

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