Another important aspect to consider when thinking about designing your classroom with intention is the walls.
- How do you make decisions of what to put on your walls?
- How do you decide the image you want to portray through your room environment?
- What image of the child are you projecting through your environment?
As discussed in the last blog post regarding intentionally designed environments, it is critical that we examine the environment as a place for students and should be a reflection of them.
Patricia Tarr in the article, Consider the Walls, talks about how commercially made posters, etc. that we hang for educational purposes may actually be limiting children’s sense of who they truly are and true capabilities and stifles their imagination and creativity. She states,
“So too does the mass of commercial stereotyped images silence the actual lived experiences of those individuals learning together. An overload of commercial materials leaves little room for work created by the children—another kind of silencing.” The challenge for early childhood educators is to think beyond decorating to consider how walls can be used effectively as part of an educational environment. In Reggio Emilia the walls display documentation panels of projects that children are engaged in. These become the basis of ongoing research and dialogue between the children, teachers, and families. Panels of photos, artifacts, and text make “learning visible” to participants and to outsiders (Rinaldi 2001).”
Think carefully about what pictures, children’s work, or photos you place on the walls. Students absorb a lot from their environment; so, we want to use the space for demonstrating both the learning and the process toward the learning. When determining what you are going to place on the walls, ponder
- is the item is important to your educational goals and objectives
- how can it be created by the students instead of commercially or by the teacher
- does it demonstrate beauty and is it aesthetically pleasing
- how does the item(s) display not just the product of learning but also the process of learning
- is it a part of the children’s world, something that is relevant to their life that they can touch and observe
For example: one Pre-K teacher felt it was important to have the colors displayed on her walls- so her students created the color posters which was much more meaningful to them and since it was created by them, they tended to reference and look at the posters more often than they would have if it was limited to a commercially made design. They were beautiful and much more aesthetically appealing.