Friday, August 12, 2016

Why You Should Keep Bulletin Boards Bare for Back to School

You can watch or listen to this post:

Hi everybody. I am Hope, and I blog here at Teach With Hope. If you don't know who I am, or you haven't visited before, it’s important to know that here I’m all about inspiring teachers, and encouraging teachers to inspire one another. It’s important find hope in everything we do. 

 Think about those days when you're feeling like nothing is going right. You totally missed the boat on a lesson, the phone wouldn’t stop ringing all day and you have a very unhappy parent on your case. We’ve all had these days.  

Then we’ve had the days where we rock that lesson, everything's going perfectly, all our classroom management techniques are on point and we can't believe that we were ever doubting ourselves. When you're having that day, you can bet that there is somebody who is having the day of doubt. Those are the times where we need to come together and lift one another up. We need to help one another find hope in what we do, and inspire one another in any way we can. That is what “Teach with hope.” is all about!

Today, I am coming to you with a post that completely relates to this. I've seen a lot of teachers feeling a lot of doubt about themselves, and their classrooms. With all the social media out there, we see so many classrooms that are looking gorgeous and fab. They’re labeled and bordered and everything is just pristine.  I'm not going to say that I don't spend a lot of time in my classroom, or that it's not important to me to make my classroom all cutesy, but that doesn't have to be important to you. I know some incredible teachers that would kick my teaching butt! I go to these teachers for mentoring, ideas, and inspiration. Cutesifying their classrooms however, is something that's not important to them. When it comes down to it, how your room looks does not impact the way your students learn. I truly believe that.   If you are feeling discouraged by all the classrooms you see ask yourself, "Would the hours and days I spend increase the amount of student learning that happens in my classroom? You'll likely answer no. 
If making your classroom "cute" isn't important to you then forget it. 

With that being said, I'm going to show you my classroom. It's not done. I still have a couple weeks until kids come back. What I want to show you is that I don't cover every wall, every bulletin board. I don't have to have every single thing up. There's purpose for that. I choose to focus on two to three bulletin boards or wall spaces, just to make myself feel better. The kids need to come into this space and make it their own. Right? That's what's most important.

I have all of these blank bulletin boards.

Over here I have my evidence wall, but there's no evidence terms on that.

There's another blank bulletin board.

Here’s my work display board.

I've got another blank board over here.

Okay? You get the picture.

I have a couple of boards that I've focused on. The rest of them, the kids will take care of. They will come in and they make the space their own. That, has so much more meaning behind it.

If you feel like you need to do something make a work display board. Even if you put a sign on there that says “Masterpieces Coming Soon!” Kids and families will come in and see that it has purpose and most importantly that the purpose is all about kids.

Anchor charts are meant to anchor and cement student learning. When we co-create charts and and make them together the kids have the opportunity to interact with what we're learning. It is so much more meaningful than if we pre-make a poster and put it on the wall. Feel good knowing that you are going to fill that blank space with all you are going to learn together!

Do you have an alphabet, a number line, or a word wall in your classroom? If the kids have a hand in creating those tools again, it is so much more meaningful. Yes we can print things in beautiful color or purchase punch out number lines from the teacher supply store, but not only are you creating more work for yourself you’re spending more money. Think of ways that you could create or add to your tools together. You could have kids draw pictures to match each letter of the alphabet or have them create the pieces that you will use for the calendar. I thought about buying a number line to hang up, but instead we’re going to make one together during those first days of school.

In the past, I've been so guilty of putting things up because they're cute and pretty. That can still happen here and there, but I am conscious about everything we hang on our walls. I always ask myself, “What part did my students have in interacting with this?”  Often I will prepare things that I plan to hang, but before doing so we will talk about them as a class. These are the numbers I use for our “Math Fact Masters” board. Before hanging them up we will talk about their purpose and I will get the kids pumped about signing their names all over them.

So remember, as you’re preparing for the first day if you don't have everything printed in color, and laminated, if you don’t have borders on every board that is not a reflection of who you are as a teacher. Be confident about who you are and what you are going to do for your kids this year. Some letters and laminating don’t tell you that!



  1. Hi Hope. I love the overall philosophy of wanting to inspire and give hope to other teachers. It is so easy to look at other teachers and other classrooms and feel less than. Thank you for the great reminders through this blog post. I also love the idea of doing the video - very interactive! I have added you to my Blog Favorites list. Looking forward to reading more from you in the future.

    1. Absolutely! Thank you, so much for stopping by. :)

  2. Great post! This is an important message to teachers. Creating your classroom WITH students is so much more meaningful than having a picture perfect classroom on Day 1. Such a positive step toward creating your classroom community! Thanks for sharing!

    1. I totally agree. My classroom might even look picture perfect on day 1, but I know that it won't matter in the end because it's going to look like a plan where learning happens and kids get messy and that's okay!! Thank you for reading!