Before I get too much farther, let me start with a little disclaimer:
I have no problem with classroom themes and I’m quite impressed by the creativity of many teachers. This is simply an explanation of why I choose not to have one. If you are an adamant classroom “themer,” please do not take offense! This is simply my lowly opinion.
When I read Debbie Miller's Teaching with Intention this summer, I was thankful that my philosophy lines up with hers. She says:
I couldn’t agree more.
I feel the pressure every year of making my room “cute.” I feel the pressure of coming up with a theme for my classroom and making everything match. These are things that I just simply do not want to spend my time doing. I just don’t. I use the same bulletin board border year after year because it’s functional and I like the color. Simple as that. My walls are mostly bare and will stay that way until my students and I share an experience that is worth documenting and taking up wall space.
I also don’t want to spend the money it takes to have a theme. Classroom décor is not cheap and definitely not something I want to have to keep shelling out dollars on year after year. Not to mention the time it takes to print, laminate, cut, or put up all of those decorations. If it comes to choosing between Mr. Sketch markers or a new welcome sign, markers will win every time. No question.
Does this make me a bad teacher? I don’t think so. If the overall goal of having a classroom theme is to establish a classroom culture or a feeling of comfort, then I take solace in the fact that those things will come through the procedures I put in place the first few weeks of school. We become a unit together, with all of our personalities intertwining and our classroom becomes a reflection of us, not me.
I hope that when my students leave my classroom they love learning, they love reading and writing, and that they have an insatiable curiosity about the world. I hope they remember our classroom not because of how cute it was, but because they have been a part of a learning community and are forever connected to people who will support them for the rest of their lives.
So, as the beginning of the year inches closer, I will enjoy these next two weeks and actually relax. My room may look bare and my room may seem “unfinished,” but I know my purpose and my kids will too. I’ll spend my time (and money if necessary) focusing on the things that will impact them the most this year—my expectations, procedures, and most importantly, the learning experiences I will create for them.
When they come to our room for the first time, they will see this note on the board-
Although our walls may now be bare,
soon they will be full
of all the things we’ll learn and share
together here at school!
I can’t wait to start!