By Angela Padron

Decorating a classroom is a tedious task but a fun part of being a teacher. From bulletin boards to motivational posters, to incentive charts and centers, having a welcoming environment established for students is an integral part of any classroom.

First, decide on a theme for your class. Whether you choose animals, sports, Dr. Seuss, or any other theme, be consistent throughout the entire classroom to give an organized appearance. Create a bulletin board outside your classroom that can stay up for the first few weeks of school. You may wish to have students set goals or tell something about themselves, then incorporate what they say, draw or write into the bulletin board. For instance, since I am a sports fanatic I have chose a sports theme for my fourth grade classroom this year. My outdoor bulletin board will be of a soccer goal titled “Shooting for Our GOOOOOALS!” Soccer balls will be placed on a soccer net that I will create out of paper and a fishing next. Students will be given a notecard to write one or two goals they want to accomplish this year. This will give me a sense of how they perceive themselves, what they strive for, and how they write.

Keep colors lively but not overwhelming. Color such as light blue, green, and purple are cool and soothing. Colors like orange, red, and yellow stimulate the mind and draw attention. Use those colors sparingly in places where you want attention but not too much that students will be distracted during the day.

In addition to the physical atmosphere of the classroom, it’s important to make learning relevant, instill motivation and reinforce positive behaviors. The old question students ask “Why do we have to learn this?” should be easily answered beyond “because it’s required.” Be sure to relate concepts to students’ lives now and in the future to make learning meaningful. This will not only help them to understand why they are learning something but helps them to retain information.  Motivational posters, such as though that tell students to “reach for the stars” or “If you can believe, you can achieve” posted around the room serve as constant reminders to students that no matter what their skill level and ability, they can achieve in some way. They help to build self-esteem and confidence.  Furthermore, publicly recognizing when students have done well on a task shows other students what good behavior looks like and what can happen if they achieve a particular good score or successfully complete a given assignment.

By establishing a welcoming environment, all of your students can feel the desire to learn and strive for their educational goals every day.

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