If you haven’t read any educational blogs lately, let me get you up to speed on a couple of issues. First, there is this movement to implement flexible seating in the classroom. It’s meant to reflect the changing needs of students during their learning process. Big corporations with forward-thinking management, like Amazon and Google, are using fluid workspaces and flexible office spaces to encourage more productivity in their employees. The Danish even have a term for creating “cozy” spaces within any indoor environment called hygge. Same idea here. Give the kids a choice of seating options, make the classroom feel homey and inviting, and let them choose the seat or space that best fits their mood that day, the tasks for that class, group work, etc.
So that is the first idea. The second is- to decorate or not? Should you, the teacher, spend time and money making your classroom, well, pretty? There are two sides to this argument, and both sides firmly believe they are correct. There is the idea that, if you do decorate, and post pictures of your hard work, you are rubbing it in the face of those that don’t have the time, the money, the resources, the desire, the (insert whatever other reason you have) to decorate your room. Some of those that decorate feel that, if you aren’t spending time and effort making your room a nice place to be, you are just phoning it in.
I have read arguments for both sides on many different forums- Facebooks groups, blogs, articles in educational publications-, and I think you can probably tell from the pictures above which side I fall on, but you might be surprised as to my reasons why.
Plain and simple? I want to have a cute room that looks great and feels comfortable because I spend 9 to 11 hours a day in here! Plus, my husband won’t let me make our living room look like the Ravenclaw common room, so I’m living that dream in my classroom. I also want my students to feel like I have spent time making this a nice place for them to learn. And dang it, I want people to ooh and aah over the amazing space I have put together because, well, I worked hard on it!! I didn’t do it to make anyone else feel bad or show anyone up. I didn’t do it for any other reason than I LIKE TO DECORATE. So when I read these blog posts and comments on Facebook that say things like, “I don’t need all of that to make my kids want to learn” or “Are they trying to compensate for being a bad teacher by making stuff pretty?” I want to scream. I would never insult someone who had a more toned-down decorating style in their classroom. I would just assume that was what worked for them. I would never question their effectiveness as a teacher either.
Teachers have enough naysayers out there without turning on each other. We should celebrate ALL of things that make us different as educators, not criticize because we don’t happen to have the same teaching style or aesthetic. Jeez, people.