Whether you are a first-year English teacher or have been teaching for numerous years, decorating your classroom can be both exciting and stressful. We completely understand! You probably have so many ideas that you have seen online but are on a budget or maybe you’re not too crafty. Look no further because we have all the answers to making your classroom aesthetically pleasing! By following these seven easy steps, you can fool everyone into thinking you are an interior decorator – as well as a rockstar English teacher, of course!
Read more: 7 Unexpected Situations in the EFL Classroom
1. Pick a colour scheme or theme
Just like your bedroom or dorm room, your classroom should be an extension of your personality. It should be a welcoming and safe space for you and your students to learn and grow. Many teachers’ favourite part about having their classroom is that they can decorate it. If you are teaching abroad, check with your school about your classroom. In different countries, the students stay in the same classroom, and the teacher moves classrooms. If that is your school situation, it is unlikely you will be able to decorate your classroom. Nevertheless, keep reading as you may have your own classroom one day!
The first step of decorating your classroom is to come up with a colour scheme or theme. A colour scheme can consist of a few or multiple colours you believe will complement each other in your classroom. A classroom theme can go beyond colours such as patterns, animals, locations, etc. A classroom theme example could be the jungle where all decorations represent the animals who live there. Another example could be the beach, where decorations could be shells, sea animals, or the ocean. The possibilities are endless! A colourful and pattern-filled classroom would attract the attention of younger students. An organized colour scheme classroom would attract the attention of older students.
2. Check if the teacher before left anything behind
Before buying anything for your classroom, check if the previous teacher left anything in your classroom. It is a 50/50 chance you could be walking into an empty classroom, and you will have to bring in all your material. On the other hand, you could be walking into a classroom full of old resources and materials.
Consider it a blessing that you will not have to be purchasing brand new material for your room. You will need to take time to sort through everything left behind and find any gems. Gently used bulletin board strips, board games, and barely used school supplies are some of the best passed down items. Outdated work activities and damaged items can be trashed. It is a time-consuming process, but it is well worth it!
3. Create a pinterest board or mood board
One of the easiest things you can do to kick off your classroom decorations is to create a Pinterest board or mood board. You will need to set up a Pinterest account if you do not currently have one, and the best part is it’s free! Pinterest has become a teacher’s best friend, and you will soon see why. You can consider your colour scheme or classroom theme that you previously had in mind, and expand from there. Nothing is set in stone, so you can change your mind if you like a theme more. Pinterest is another great way to find easy classroom decor that you can buy or recreate for your room. As previously mentioned, various teachers use Pinterest, and many create accounts dedicated to classroom decor. You can follow and share ideas you found on Pinterest with other social media to help other teachers.
If you are a minimal DIY person, you can create your mood board filled with your favourite things. You can print or cut out clips from multiple magazines and glue them on a poster board. This allows you to take a break from your device and get a little crafty. A digital mood board is the way to go. A digital mood board will allow you to combine your favourite pieces into one location with no mess.
4. Organization is KEY!
If you take anything away from this article, let it be this – organization is key! No one wants to walk into a classroom that is all over the place. It shows your students, their parents, and your colleagues you are not put together. You can start by labelling bins and materials. If you are teaching abroad, add the native word with the English word. If you are teaching younger students, labelling everything will help with word association.
By having specific bins in your classroom, your students know where to turn in papers and pick up material. There is less confusion and more smooth transitions. If you teach multiple classes, consider colour coordinating each class with a specific colour. Bins will become your new best friend as they are perfect for storage and moving around. For an eco-friendly option consider using the cardboard boxes – they work just as well!
5. Dollar store BEFORE craft store
There will be a time when you are scrolling through Pinterest, and you see the perfect addition to your classroom. You go to check the price – YIKES it’s way over your budget! But it doesn’t look too difficult to DIY, so you check your local craft store for materials. After you calculate the total, it costs the same as buying it online. We have all been there, and you were on the right track, you just overlooked the most affordable place for all your DIY needs. The good old dollar store! A dollar store is any store that sells all products for one dollar (plus tax). It has everything from cheap art supplies to kitchenware. The materials you were going to pay for at a craft store cost one dollar at the dollar store. You can stock up on DIY projects, school supplies, and even prize toys!
6. Reading corner
As an English teacher, it is not uncommon to have an area of your classroom dedicated to a reading corner. Every teacher has an idea of what a reading corner should include. The most common items are a stocked up bookshelf and comfy reading chairs. Everything else is up to you! If you are teaching younger students, consider getting carpet squares or soft mats instead of comfy chairs for multiple students to enjoy. If you are teaching abroad, consider having a mix of English books and books in the students’ native language. This area can be super simple and just a relaxing place for students to read.
7. Simple goes a LONG way
Teachers, please put your listening ears on and pay attention! Simple goes a long way. We will say it again – LESS is MORE! You do not want your classroom to be cluttered. Simple decor is less of an eyesore, and your students will have an easier time concentrating. A manageable and cost-effective way to spice up your classroom is to use wallpaper vinyl on your walls for a complete transformation. Fun educational posters and decor can brighten up your classroom and make it feel not so empty.