Almost every teacher decorates their classroom with colorful inspirational sayings, fun posters, or whatever they can find to make the space brighter. There are different decorating levels; some teachers prefer their classrooms with few to no decorations and others go all out. Are there other reasons behind their decorations besides aesthetics?
“I don’t like things to be plain,” says language teacher Señora Nordmeyer. “I like to have things for students to look at because not all of my students pay attention 100% of the class. If there are things around that can help them absorb the language or more information about the countries we’re learning about, they’re still learning just in an indirect way. I also just like the look of color around the classroom, it looks like a welcoming place, and I want kids to feel comfortable.”
Biology teacher Mrs. Barth has similar reasoning behind her decore. “I wanted my classroom to be inviting, and I like to make my room an expression of who I am as a person and who I want my students to be able to see within themselves. I’ve been trying to put up famous scientists from diverse backgrounds to show that science is for everybody, no matter who you are or what you look like.”
Room decorations can help students get a better understanding of who their teacher is, it’s an easy way to learn about them without silly icebreakers and awkward small talk. Another reason teachers decorate their classroom is to help students feel more comfortable. Remembering that their teacher is also a person, one who has likes and dislikes, a sense of humor, and role models of their own can help students feel at ease.
“The first thing I do when I have a new class is look around the room to get a feel of the teacher and how the class will go. I like to read the posters to see what the teacher thinks is important or interesting, who they look up to, and what they think is funny. I make my first assumptions based on how it looks,” says an anonymous student.
Not all students thrive in a highly decorated classroom, some feel like the vibrant colors and assorted sayings can be distracting. They prefer rooms that feel calm and leave the focus on other things, like the curriculum itself. A study by Carnegie Mellon University found that students learn in both heavily decorated and sparse classrooms, but they learn more in classrooms with fewer decorations.
“I prefer classrooms with some decorations, I like it in between, if they’re too busy I don’t like it, but I don’t like it when they’re bare. I learn better when there are a few decorations so I have something pretty to pay attention to, like the decorations in the band room, there are a lot of funny quotes and random things that have meaning to me. It’s mostly inside jokes that help me feel like I’m a part of something bigger,” says Vivian Grambart ‘25.
Everyone learns differently, some people thrive in decorated classrooms, while others prefer the fewer distractions of a classroom with fewer decorations. Ultimately, it’s up to the teacher and what they think is best for their students and their room.
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