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.
Each 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?