It has been so fun to see pictures posted by teachers going back to start a new school year.
The classrooms look worthy of magazine spreads of how-to make your classroom a showcase.
Oh! Believe me!
There will be parents clamoring to have their student in that room that has its own fireplace or a Pinterest themed reading nook.
Teachers! Please be wary of how much “pizzazz” your room has.
Often times the busyness of patterns and colors can throw off focus.
Spending time and MONEY on the interior decorating can be really, really fun and I get that it is where you will be living the majority of your time, but does it promote learning?
Edutopia points out in an October, 2018 article by Youki Terada : “Heavily decorated classrooms can bombard students with too much visual information, interfering with their memory and ability to focus.”
A study done by Pedro Rodrigues and Josefa Pandeirada recruited 64 children between the ages of 8 and 12 to perform memory tasks. Split into two groups, one group went into the high decoration room where walls were covered with pictures while the walls in the control group were blank. The students performed a series of tasks (two for attention and two for memory). The group in the highly decorated classroom had difficulty ignoring the visual distractors embedded in the surrounding environment.
Here are some suggestions on how classrooms can maximize their set up:
Display student work
Feature inspiring role models (Very short quotes that students can relate to)
Avoid Clutter- Keep at least 20% of your wall clear and ample space between displays
Visual aids: Anchor charts, maps, diagrams are acceptable.
Avoid displays of student scores or grades
Let in “Natural “ Light- The trend to the dimly light a classroom is over. Brighter natural light can boost achievement
Balance wall colors: One single bright wall
Edutopia goes on to point out that children do not have the cognitive capacity to filter. They may ignore well intentioned decorations or find themselves unable to look away.
But classrooms DO play a part in learning as Reggio Emilia and Montesorri call them the “Third Teacher.”
They call for optimizing physical characteristics such as light, color, and seating options.
Before you go and scrap your classroom design, take a deep breath.
Does your classroom promote the very best “research driven” learning environment. If not, make a few tweaks. Take something down and put up at different times of the year, instead of an first of the year neural blast.
Secondly, tell all your teacher friends who have done calligraphy signs, bought oodles of decorations, and spent tons of unnecessary money, that your classroom will be a little calmer and more directed toward learning because you have done the research.
Have a great year and thanks for listening.