You might see, when you scroll through social media, A LOT of Picture Perfect Classrooms. But this DOES NOT make you a better teacher. While this is of course, absolutely gorgeous and fills in that check box for “#classroomgoals”, it is not going to make you a better teacher. Read on to find out WHY I am saying this and what WILL make you a better teacher and the things you SHOULD focus on if this is your goal.
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WHY Having an Insta-Worthy, Picture Perfect Classroom DOESN’T Make you a Better Teacher
I know that right now, there are 2 reactions to this statement: one of rejoice and celebration and one of pure anger. Please, don’t yell at me. I 100% think there are awesome absolutely beautiful classrooms out there and anyone winning a full classroom makeover is 100% deserving of it. I agree that they look STUNNING and that the kids most likely appreciate and love it. It DOES take your classroom out of that institutionalized feel and makes it feel better than most family rooms in homes.
However, this insta-worthy, social media attention getting classroom WILL NOT make you a better teacher. Is it nice to have? Absolutely. Is it reasonable or accessible for everyone? Absolutely NOT. Should you do it if you want to? 100% go for it as you can spend your money and time on whatever you want or choose in this life and you should definitely do you.
WHY this is not reasonable for everyone:
Before I explain what will actually make you a better teacher, it is important to know that this Social Media pressure for having this absolutely stunning classroom is not reasonable for everyone. As well, it is not the norm. It is popular one social media, but it is not achievable in a lot of circumstances OR not right at the start when you’re fresh and new as a teacher.
I know I might be ruffling feathers but do know that if you have a beautiful classroom, I absolutely do love it and think it is amazing! I am one of those people liking your pics. But this post isn’t for you. I am not here to put anyone down or to say not to do it. This post is for any teacher feeling pressured to achieve this because they think it might make them a better teacher.
This is not going to make you a better teacher.
1) Teachers develop their classroom and create resources and collect over time. Not for their very first year of teaching on day one (although, it is not impossible).
2) When you are a new teacher, you are most likely at the bottom of a Salary scale and you are trading time for dollars. You will not have time during the day to make this transformation. It will be happening on your own time. If this is what you like to do with your free-time, of course do it. But it is not your job to fully furnish a classroom (to this extreme level)
3) You are most likely going to pay for this out of your pocket. The truth is that teachers pay a lot of out their own way for supplies, resources, for supplies for students, and now there is a social media pressure to have a designer classroom. Again, you’re paying out of pocket and are trading time for dollars. You are most likely not getting funded for this and you have your own bills to pay. You also might have financial goals you want to achieve, retirement and savings you might need to focus on, or student debts to pay off. Is a completely designer classroom necessary to you?
If it is, go for it. Like I said, you can spend your money however you want.
A Designer Classroom Will NOT Make you a Better Teacher
Having a designer, picture perfect classroom is different from an organized one with some décor up. I am talking the extreme cases that are showing up on social media and are causing anxiety and social pressure to also do the same. What things will make you a better teacher?
10 Things that will make you a better Teacher:
- Having a Plan. Plan your year, be organized, and prep in batches. I would prep and photocopy for a few weeks at a time so that I could always “Show Up” for the students and be the teacher they needed me to be. When you’re always planning last minute or photocopying right before the bell, you’re always behind, rushing, and flustered. Instead, use your decorating time for actually doing the work, creating your lesson plans, organizing your year and resources, etc.
- Focus on Creating AMAZING LESSONS. Rich lessons that go DEEP. They start off with a hook, they use Total Participation techniques, they teach through a variety of strategies to engage all different kinds of learners, they have hooks, time for think-pair-shares, integrate technology or other share-out methods, have solid Hooks, and beautiful “show what you know’s” so that kids walk away with new knowledge that they enjoyed learning about.
- Focus on Building Relationships & Earning trust. Not every student will want to trust their teacher so you might have to work on it (a lot) with some of your learners. It might even take months of daily sit down, one-to-one sessions. But this is so important for the child to feel safe, want to learn, and for your overall classroom management. Will it solve all problems? Nope but it is extraordinarily helpful.
- Spend time on creating AMAZING Hooks for your lessons. Capture your student’s attention and make them eager and WANT to learn.
- Build Movement into your lesson. There are all kinds of reasons kids need movement. Some really can’t sit long. Some learn better standing up. Some are kinesthetic learners. Try and add movement!
- Develop amazing unit plans. Don’t just go along the surface and hit content briefly. Instead find topics that you will go in DEEP on. Your students will learn so much more and will retain it a lot longer (hopefully forever).
- Stop Rushing. Slow down. Slow down on everything. Have your kids slow down. We all need to slow down and be a little more mindful. Actually, adding some mindful lessons into your classroom is a GREAT idea.
- Add in Social Emotional Learning. Teach the WHOLE student. Work on ways to help them learn and help with with both social and emotional pieces.
- Attend Professional Development Sessions you’re actually passionate about. Honestly, it is SO energizing going to a good pro-d session… the ones that make you energized to take action THAT NIGHT. I love them but sometimes, you can’t find them at your school. So search them out or attend more. Learning is lifelong.
- READ. You probably do already but there are amazing books out there, and new ones all the time, that will help you become a better teacher. If you think you’re struggling with something, definitely grab some new reading material and power through them and create action items for yourself.
Is this all there is?
These are only 10 things. There is world of endless things that will help you improve on your teaching skills including doing it for years, experience… and I am sure you can each add 10 things to this list.
All I am saying is that you should never feel that not having a picture perfect classroom makes you a bad teacher. Having an insta-worthy classroom doesn’t add to your teaching quality. This just a reminder to not let social media add to social pressure or take away from what truly matters.