Teacher Inspiration: How Bare Walls Show Kids They are Important

The weeks leading up to the First Day of School are a whirlwind of activity. Organizing, cleaning, laminating, labeling, lesson planning…the list goes on and on. Each task is its own special joy. Teachers pour their love for their new students into these classroom tasks.
One task I propose teachers take off the list is decorating.
Decorating.
Really?!
Decorating is important, right? How can bare walls show students they are loved and important?
To me decorating your classroom, filling every bulletin board with cute teacher store cut outs and informational posters does show kids they are important. It shows kids they are welcomed and cherished guests. It tells kids, “Welcome to my classroom.”
My classroom, not our classroom.
It is okay for students to be welcomed, honored, cherished guests. Guests who are awaited with much excitement and whose departure causes the host great sadness.
But maybe they could be more. Maybe each school year could be a true collaboration where each person has a voice. Our school community could have less hierarchy and more inclusivity. As the teacher and the adult I have the responsibility, but I can share the rights. And also a few developmentally appropriate responsibilities.
Bare walls could be a first step.
Bare walls say, “There is room for you too.”
Bare walls say, “This place isn’t complete without you.”
Tonight, when my students come to see the classroom they will see open spaces like this.

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With a sign like this.

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For the last 7 years I have welcomed a new set of guests each school year. Guests who were cherished while they visited and missed after they were gone.
But this year, I don’t want guests. This year I don’t want the classroom to be mine, I want it to be ours.