A few days ago I was overjoyed to see that @flashsticks had tweeted a very old castle, it was an image from the grammar pages of a very ancient tricolore book from my teenage years. I loved this image and I still love it now, I had it painted on one of my classroom walls in my last few classrooms as a visual reminder for all French students of motion verbs, you know the irregular ones, that ones they have to learn, the tricksy ones. Some of you may refer to them as MrsVande(r)tramp verbs.
Seeing this got me thinking abut my classroom, I am very privileged to enjoy my own classroom (though I do share it with other colleagues) about my learning space and the displays therein. I absolutely love my classroom and I make it mine, I have a mixture of permanent and termly displays but all displays have to be bright, colourful and useful for learners in the space, they are learning walls not just displays.
I remember being interviewed by my first headteacher @mikehughes and I told him I wanted students to come to my classroom excited about learning French, walk in and feel francophone culture and lifestyle bursting from the walls I wanted the students to feel like they were walking to a little part of France. That students would hear it, feel it, see it and smell it to the point where they want to reach out and touch it. I think back to this from time to time as I love taking time to create new displays in my room.
Tragically I don’t have much space and last year we lost the fabulous wall space outside our classrooms to lockers, stacked blocks of grey lockers so our highly praised, brightly coloured walls celebrating students successes and progress and also great walls of learning were gone. Tragic!
Loss of display space really isn’t the end of the world but I do really feel that regularly updated displays are a fantastic addition to any classroom. They allow us to show our students, other teaching colleagues, SLT, the Governing Body and visitors to our school exactly how much we value student’s hard work, effort and celebrate their toil and success by choosing to display their amazing work! Alas this would have to be classroom based from the start of this academic year.
We started by decorating the doors and around the door frame more intensely, why well to welcome our learners to make sure they start reading target language or classroom mantras when greeted by us smiles and all at the start of the lesson. I have to say I favour @sparkyteaching ‘s fabulously positive mantras I selected my favourites for around the door.
At the front of the room resides key classroom vocab are some of my favourite motivational quotes to inspire and remind learners and visitors that we are all good people worthy of love sharing kindness and joy wherever we go to make the world a better place or at the very least to take care of one another.
On one wall we have to have two huge BfL display boards as reminders of classroom rules and the sanctions they will receive should they not do as requested. I have decorated these with fabulous Venetian masks following a project based learning unit with a very challenging Y9 class a few years ago. These are beautiful works of art that I proudly keep to adorn my room. Proof to those students that I loved and valued their hard work, effort and spectacular focus when times were tough.
I have flag bunting and other fab display pieces such as weather types, postcards or students work draped from the ceiling so if students look up when thinking they can see something bright and colourful flowing in the breeze.
The remaining display spaces my classroom contain students incredible work and my beloved reward board which is updated fortnightly (we have a two week timetable at my school) students know I update this based on three elements: effort, excellence and progress. Students names are selected as I refer back to my praise logs, exercise books and participation of students so I can reward their toil and take the opportunity to value their contribution, their progress and their resilience.
Students come skipping in to my classroom checking for updates and to check if they have made it, and if they have, they positively beam with joy and work their socks off as uniquely as only they can. I never directly refer to the board after September because students know where to look, it’s part of our routine. They know I think that they are amazing and they respond to the challenge. I have never not had a student’s name appear on the board in a term in almost two decades of teaching because there is always something good to praise within those three categories. It’s superb how students work hard to achieve notoriety across all three. The same names don’t appear every fortnight but students work for the chance to have their names up there. The reward board is a staple in my classroom and has been since my first school.
My displays show a lot about me but also are supportive and celebratory alongside instructive and helpful reminders of expectations, key vocabulary and key concepts to support my students along their learning journeys. They offer help and guidance of how to improve and where to find help, what to do next and also hopefully help them feel valued and noticed.