October 26, 2012 by mamacravings
My first year as a teacher, I was overwhelmed and even a bit terrified as I first walked into the teacher supply store. The colors, textures and content could have sucked me in for hours. I had a difficult time narrowing down exactly what I wanted to do and how I wanted to accomplish it while staying within my first-year teacher budget.
Below are 3 tips that I have picked up from my first 6 years of teaching:
1. Scale back the theme.
I know, I know. Telling a teacher to scale back a classroom theme is like asking my 2 year-old to give up his favorite race car sippie cup.
Themes are fun. They are colorful. They bring personality into the classroom. Teacher supplies stores are organized and displayed by theme. Once you get the bulletin board set, you can buy the border, the magnets, the file folders and the paperclips to match.
However, themes can also set you back a couple of hundred dollars in a matter one shelf-clearing moment. While I am the biggest sucker for an end-cap display and dreams of an owl themed spectacular classroom, it isn’t practical. My budget cannot overhaul my theme each semester or even each year as I stumble across the newest and the greatest.
My solution is to scale back. What I am infatuated with today may simply be a passing fad. I buy a couple of things, and if it still catches my eye the next time, then I pick up one or two more things.
2. Invest in versatile pieces.
The same principle of a smart wardrobe always applies here. Make your investment pieces classic and neutral. Spend more money on these pieces and less money on the trendy items.
My versatile pieces for my classroom include a black chalkboard calendar and mamacravings’ classroom posters (all of Eli, of course).
I even consider my lei borders a versatile piece. Yes, they are fairly specific, but they can be used for multiple themes. They can also be taken down, moved to a new school and put back up. The $15.00 I spent on them has been well worth it, because I have used them in multiple classrooms over multiple years with different themes.
3. Make it personal.
My largest bulletin board displays a great Scott Clements quote: “Take the time to realize your adventure is happening right now.” Scott Clements happens to be one of my favorite authors in the history of ever. So, of course, I want a quote from him on my board. I added a bit more of me by stamping Eli’s little footprints at the bottom of the bulletin board paper. I even sprinkled sand on the footprints while they were wet to add some texture. I have a quote from my one of my favorite authors and precious little feet by my favorite kid. It is something that no one else has in their room and makes it unique to me.
Decorating a classroom is one of my favorite things to do as a teacher. It sets up the entire environment for learning. It introduces students to your subject matter and to yourself.