Why Decorating a Classroom is like Buying a Car...

The first half of this post has been edited from it's original content. Let me share a little about why. When I originally posted this, it was with only my personal knowledge and opinion about the topic. I sometimes felt shamed (yes, I'm choosing this word again because I'm pointing out how I feel, not necessarily a truth) into feeling bad about my classroom decor.
Some veterans on instagram kindly shared their take on the situation. I'm not being sarcastic or facetious. I'm serious. I appreciate it when people RESPECTFULLY share their opinions. Some of these teachers pointed out how MOST of the veteran teachers out there were discussing classroom decor out of concern. They are concerned that first year, or any year, teachers may not feel like they measure up because they cannot afford to buy "all the things" or decorate their room so extensively. 

The field of education can be tough. It's emotionally, mentally, and physically draining on some days. On other days, I feel like I've conquered the world. Either way, I look to my support team (friends, family, coworkers) to celebrate and vent. I never want any teacher to feel bad for their students or about themselves because of decor. It's just not that important. 

I'm thankful that we live in a place were we each get to be ourself, that we get to have opinions and share them, and that we can learn from each other. I didn't change my post because people were upset. I changed it because I gathered more information and used it to come to a new conclusion. Thank goodness for the opportunity to change our opinions and thinking.

I still believe that our classroom decor, however much or little, is a reflection of us as teachers. It is a reflection of the experiences we've had, the students we've taught, and the lessons we've learned. *end edit*

Here's a comparison for you. My sister drives a Chevry Camaro. It's modified. It's loud. It goes really fast. You know the one I'm talking about. I think it's beautiful.

I drive a Hyundai Santa Fe. It's stock. You can't hear it when I'm drive down the road. I'm not sure that it goes very fast because I'm terrified to get over 80. It's what some would consider a mom car although I'm not a mom. I think it's beautiful.

When my sister bought her car, she had some non-negotiables in mind. She had things she was looking for. She wanted something fast and sporty, so she didn't head for the minivans. She's single and works for the Navy; trunk space isn't a deal breaker for her (thank goodness because that thing shouldn't even count as a trunk lol).

When I bought my car, I also had some non-negotiables in mind. I like something roomy that sits off the ground a little. I like having lots of "trunk" space to haul all my teacher stuff around.

Here's the thing though, her car wouldn't be my choice vehicle. It just wouldn't work for what I want a vehicle for, but she loves it! Do you see where I'm headed here?

Every classroom is different. Every classroom has it's own teacher with their own personality. You don't mind about "trunk space"? Great. You need ALL THE TRUNK SPACE so you can organize your things? Great. You want to modify it with bright posters and flexible seating? Great. You want it stock so you can focus on other stuff? Great. It's ok. Whatever you choose is ok! You are enough just the way you are!

I never want anyone to feel overwhelmed due to what their classroom looks like. My first year, there was nothing on the walls. (Actually, there was a huge sheet of white butcher paper that I taped up to use as a projector screen.) My first year, I was just trying to keep my head above water. I was just trying to survive. I was trying to learn to teach a whole class of different personalities. My first year, my second year, my third year....I could go on. Each year, I learn something new about myself and my teaching style. It comes with time and decor doesn't make it happen any faster.

I'm inspired by anyone that steps into a classroom everyday and shares their heart with their students. You're more than enough; I'm sure your students would agree.


  1. You put into words what I've been feeling all morning. Thanks!

  2. I think what's missing here, though, is that this isn't about what's best for/what's wanted by teachers. It's about what's best for kids. Those two things conditions can be met at the same time (and very often are) but sometimes those things also conflict. There's shouldn't be a thing wrong with disagreeing about the best course of action in terms of best practices or your professional opinion. It is not "shaming" to express your professional opinion as it relates to the impact on student outcomes.

    So often as professionals we are upset that we're not treated as such - that we're not held in esteem the way other professions are... then we do things like chalk up any disagreement about what goes on in a classroom as "shaming." We cannot have it both ways - either we are professionals and can have discussions, disagreements, and conflict like professionals often do, or we can behave as if we're campers at summer camp and need to all get along and squash down any hint of that. I'd much rather deal with the discomfort of my practice being questioned and defend it then to not be taken seriously, or worse, not grow as an educator because I didn't want to experience any discomfort or learn from others.

    1. You're absolutely right about doing what is best for our students. It wasn't something I mentioned, but the reason I chose flexible seating is because of the positive responses that I saw from my students. I did flexible seating far before it was "flexible seating."

      I'm absolutely ok with others questioning my professional decisions and decision making process. I'm just not ok with others not respectfully questioning my motives. The situations I've referenced here were not respectful disagreements. They were passive aggressive shaming situations on social media.

      I understand where you're coming from though, and I'm fine with you expressing your disagreement with how I approached this topic. Thanks for giving me some things to think about.

  3. I think it is a good thing for teachers at any age level and subject level to take time to reflect about ALL aspects of teaching and the classroom. Environment is one aspect, just as we need to consider assessments, teaching strategies, updating old lesson plans, etc. Thanks for making me stop and think. And yes, teachers who are in their first few years need to focus on what they are teaching and gradually work on incorporating and increasing their volume of classroom décor that is age-appropriate and supports the concepts and skills taught within their space.