When I decided to become a teacher, I thought I would have elaborate bulletin boards and fun cute things.

Kinda like this–such a clean and beautiful classroom

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You see, crafty I am not. I never thought I was. However, give me a classroom bulletin board and the sky’s the limit. Iam creative and the classroom inspires that creativity. I felt like teaching would allow me to delve into so many areas that were strengths of mine while helping me to develop strengths in many ways.

Well, that’s true. But bulletin boards are simply not a priority in my room. Not even a little bit. It’s sad. You would never know I even had a knack for them at any point in my life.

The way my classroom looks is not a priority to me. I am not a teacher that spends hours on the weekend in my room. I learned very quickly that it does not work for me. I become resentful toward my job and I’m not as effective in the classroom. So I put up a few sheets of paper and I do my best to make it work for us for the year and that’s how my classroom is decorated.

I have learned that this isn’t always a weakness, though. The fact that I don’t care too terribly how fancy my room looks has proved a benefit over the past couple years. I don’t have store-bought posters all over my walls (except for the inspirational kind). I don’t have an abundance of die cuts and borders. My classroom is pretty basic.

Which means when the kids decide to decorate it, I don’t really care. In fact, I am ecstatic.

Letting the students add something to the room makes our room feel a little more like it’s ours and not mine. It’s also fun to leave it in place for the next year’s group. It leads each class down a different course throughout the year and I just love it.

Last year I had a student that struggled in reading. She got a test back with a “B” on it and was so proud of herself. She yelled (boy, she was a yeller–she was just too excited all the time and you couldn’t help but love her for it) “This is a good grade! This is going on the fridge!”

And just like that it clicked. We should have a class fridge. I immediately shared the idea with the students and they loved it. So I asked for a few volunteers to spend their recesses putting a fridge together for our room. (I certainly wasn’t going to cut up paper and draw a fridge and all that).

It was an idea sparked by a student and the idea was handed over to the students and this is what we ended up with:

They made an electric outlet, door handles, and even added cereal boxes to the top. It was 100% their idea to put the qualities of fridge worthy work on the boxes. So the boxes tell the students, if you want something to go on the fridge it has to be: neat, took time, hard work, creativity, show work and knowledge, organized, did best, and they threw in a box of Lucky Charms just for fun.

After the fridge was done one of the boys asked, “Can we put ‘da Fridge on the top instead of “The Fridge.”

I said, “Um…I’m not sure I’m exactly comfortable with that.”

Just at that moment one of my students had a brilliant idea…

“The is a definite article so D.A. Fridge is definite article fridge.”

It was so brilliant that I had to allow it.

It’s funny because now my third graders use that as a strategy to find the definite article in a sentence.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I do not think that knowing whether an article is definite or indefinite is a life skill. I don’t think that this knowledge actually serves a great purpose. But the students will never forget that and my current class uses the former classes idea to help them this year. It’s so fun.

After the fridge, the class wanted to transform this crate that I had into a microwave. (This class was mildly obsessed with food. This same class had a secret club at recess that I didn’t know about until the end of the year. Their “code names” were their favorite foods: ribs, steak, oranges, etc…They cracked me up).

They made a microwave and put “Cooking Up Some Good Stories” on it.

It was a place to put stories in. And we did.

Is it pretty? Not by most standards, but it’s ours. And it really is. The students feel ownership of the room.

And this year’s class? Well, they LOVE writing for the microwave. So much so that our writing took a very different route this year.

You’ll be hearing  more on that later.

This year’s class wants to keep with the food theme.

They are making a cookie jar for next year’s class. I don’t know where they came up with a cookie jar, but I am going to have them make it and it’s going to be used as something like this. I’m going to pick some of the ideas on the sticks and they will help me come up with some as well.

I love turning things over to the students in the classroom. I never know what path my class will take. Each class is different and allowing them to direct something during the year really makes the year that much more exciting and it brings us closer together. I’m okay with not having the prettiest classroom. I am aiming for the happiest classroom.

 

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