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Primary Education News
News Setting the tone: how to personalise your classroom
From a hall of fame to connective walls, Wellington Academy's director of English, Freya Odell, shares nine ideas for sprucing up your classroom with learning aids and displays
Your classroom is an extension of you. It reflects who you are as a teacher. It tells the students how much you care about the job you do and the work they produce. It shows off your personality. It is the first thing the students see when they arrive in September and it will be the basis of the first judgements that are made about you, as a teacher. Rooms are so important.
This summer I inherited a new room – a more central room. It was a complete blank canvas. So here are my top tips for putting your own stamp on your classroom and setting the tone.
Choose fab backing paper
At my last school everyone had to have the same blue/orange backing paper. It limited how creative you could be, so I was really keen to experiment this time round. The key is to consider your topics and what might be a suitable backing paper.
Backing paper does not have to be traditional display paper, however. This time round I ordered foliage backing paper available from the internet, a party scene setter from an online party provider for my western/Of Mice and Men theme and wrapping paper from Waterstones for my language acquisition display.
Have your books on display
I was browsing Twitter one night when I saw a classroom which had a series of book posters in it. I thought this was a fab idea. However, it struck me that it would be a lovely touch to have on display all of the books that our students will be exposed to throughout their five years with us. I now have every book we are studying on my classroom wall which, I think, is a nice personalised touch.
A connective wall
This, for me, is a fundamental wall. It is a fantastic learning aid for supporting students with the development of their writing skills. As literacy co-ordinator at my last school, it was part of my role to get the connective-word display in every classroom. Staff really bought into this and the connective display became an active tool during lessons that involved the students writing.
Have all of your learning aids at the front
If a display is useful to students it must be within their view. My learning aids are at the front of the classroom. When I arrived at my new school I found that the staff were a bit overwhelmed by different learning aids, many of which you could not see. So, it is important to carefully consider what will most benefit your students and go from there. For me this was ISPACED, punctuation, GCSE key concepts and terminology. These can all be easily referred to throughout lessons or act as prompts to jog your students' memory.
It's ok to pinch ideas
Rooms and displays take a long time together. If you find something that someone else has produced and offered, take it. This is what happened to me and my new bunting. @Lauralolder produced some fantastic AF bunting. She very kindly shared this on TES and I very graciously nicked the idea. I love this bunting.
Make sure you have students' work up on the wall
The students must have some ownership of the room. Their work should be displayed with their name and, if possible, their picture. However, in order for it to be a learning aid, you can also identify what level or band it received. You can then highlight sections or create arrows that highlight sections with an explanation as to why it achieved the level or band it did. If you complete student voice activities, you can also include key quotes from the students about what they particularly liked about the unit.
A literature wall
Why do you love English so much? Demonstrate this to the students with posters, postcards, pictures, newspaper articles and other materials you find that are English and literature related. Put these all up on a wall and add to as you go through the year. Let the kids see why literature is important and how literature has inspired many people.
Finally, a wall of fame
Use pictures of students completing activities in your classroom. If possible, capture them looking happy. And, of course, you must try to make your corridor a little different.