Childhood Memories Friday: Classroom Decorations

When I went to elementary school, I remember each classroom had one large wall that was a giant bulletin board. The teachers always filled these with something; generally the women teachers had the most creativity. In fourth grade, Mrs. Baughman let us re-create Currier & Ives prints on a bulletin board – something I remember vividly to this day. The men usually hung up motivational posters and progress charts. All the teachers outlined all the bulletin boards with that familiar, wavy-edged border.

When I became a teacher in the late ’80s, I carried on this tradition with enthusiasm. I spent many a happy hour with the overhead projector, craft paper, and oil pastels, creating my heart out.

bulletin board decorationsEach year, I decorated my classroom with a theme. One year we had the Wizard of Oz. Another, the jungle (or, more PC, the rain forest). I spent most of my waking hours in my classroom, so I wanted it to look nice.

Recently, I came across the huge stack of these creations in my basement. Since I’m not feeling the pull back to the classroom (and honestly, even if I were, the economy and my years of experience make my hiring extremely unlikely), I decided to put them on Craigslist, so some current teacher and kids could enjoy them. I listed the whole big stack at $20.

The silence was deafening.

Not a single response. How could no one prize my wonderful creations? I think much of it is due to the changing educational environment. With so many more standards and regulations, I’m guessing teachers today spend precious little time recreating their rooms as medieval castles. My own girls’ elementary classrooms have featured very little in the way of creative displays — I mainly see posters with rules and lists of proofreading tips, things on that order.

And really, I think that’s a bit sad, but I figure that the pendulum will eventually swing back.

And when it does, I’ll have a big ol’ stack of paper characters ready to make an encore performance.

What about you? Do you remember classroom decor from your youth? What do your kids’ classrooms look like?

3 thoughts on “Childhood Memories Friday: Classroom Decorations

  1. Mrs. Noekler, an excellent teacher, once told me bulletin boards do more to make the teacher feel good than anybody. She may be right.
    I think they add SO MUCH! When I see a classroom that looks inviting, it tells me volumes about the teacher who teaches there. But it is not always an indicator of a good teacher. One teacher who hung the moon has a very blah looking room. He is a guy but oh my – the learning that goes on in that room is astounding! I guess there are no absolutes in life. Just when you think you have something figured out, somebody blows the lid off your theory! Keeps life interesting!

  2. As for me, I still love a classroom with lots of bright colors and a variety of focal points on several topics related to current subject matter being studied. When I became an elementary teacher in the early 1960s, most classrooms had more than one bulletin board to decorate. These always stimulated my creativity, and I often displayed student work to fit the theme. Many times I asked thought-provoking questions as a title and let the students fill in the answers with creative writing of their own, such as “What will you be doing 10 years from now?” or “If you become President, what will you do to improve the USA?” or “Inventions of the future…”, etc. The attractiveness of the classroom seemed to be an inspiration to many, including not only the students, but also parents, administrators, and other teachers. Sure glad that I taught in an era where classroom freedom was tolerated and well-accepted! We didn’t spend half of our time testing and retesting to try and fit into a mold mandated by the state/federal regulators. I believe that the common sense of a caring classroom teacher and his/her judgment were much more appreciated back in the day. Today there is so much red tape paperwork and reports to do that it takes away from the pure joy of being a classroom teacher, in my opinion.
    Oh yes, and $20 for Susan’s bulletin board ideas would be a very good bargain!

  3. I like inviting rooms. I remember once, though, in 4th grade when I was 8 or 9 years old, when a teacher liked a picture I’d drawn, and wanted me to recreate it for the bulletin board. I was thrilled and flattered, but unfortunately, I also misunderstood her directions. She gave me a large sheet of paper, and I proceeded to recreate my picture meticulously – on a small corner of the paper, the same size as the original drawing. She wasn’t very happy with me, and my picture didn’t get hung after all, so I was embarrassed and disappointed. So maybe it’s just as well for the teacher to do the bulletin board! (Sorry, didn’t mean to rain on the parade, but that’s the first memory that came to mind!)

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