Ah, displays. The bane of some teacher’s lives. Fun for others. A chance to showcase your creativity, share children’s learning and transform your classroom into your own personal space. This sounds quite idealistic as, in reality, getting a Pintrest-worthy classroom is HARD WORK. And TIME CONSUMING. And EXPENSIVE.
Regardless of this, I do enjoy a good display. I think it can make the classroom become such an interesting space and children respond really well when their learning environment is interesting and varied. As the school year is now reaching its home straight, I’ve learned a few things this year that I thought could help any new teachers (and which will hopefully help me next year!)
- Don’t be too ambitious for every display
As mentioned previously, displays can be hard work to create initially and to maintain. My school have a policy for what must be included in the classroom and trying to upkeep a Maths and English working wall, Home Learning Board, Progress Board, Personal Bests, British Values, Topic, Learning Powers and numerous others is tough. Of course, I want all my displays to look decent but I had to be realistic last summer when I was starting completely from scratch in an empty room. I made sure I had up all the displays needed but focused really hard on two displays, max. Now, it’s my topic display that tends to get the most treatment, becoming a real focal point for the room. It doesn’t mean the others are neglected, they’re changed regularly, but means that I don’t completely burn myself out!
2. Get help!
Whether its friends, family, work colleagues – get help! Have you ever tried to back a board solo? It’s up there with flying the Millennium Falcon. If at all possible, get someone to help you out, whether its laminating and cutting out lettering (takes so much longer than expected), backing boards or stapling. I’m lucky to have an amazingly creative and committed TA who helps me with my displays and, to be honest, the amazingness of them is all her. It’s also surprisingly fun. Doing a display with a work colleague last term turned out to be one of the funniest times I’ve had in school.
3. Pintrest is your friend, not your Bible…
I’ve done it. We’ve all done it. We take a quick glance on Pintrest to get some inspo’ for our next display and suddenly we’re 47 boards deep with hundreds of pins and feeling like Laurence Llewelyn-Bowen. But it’s not realistic. Those people on Pintrest with perfect classrooms either have too much money, too much time, or both (lucky ones). Use it for inspiration by all means, but don’t feel too depressed that yours doesn’t look like it. I mean, the pile of papers at the back of my room and the mound of work on my desk could become good Feng-Shui one day, right?
4. Save things!
It can be quite tempting when taking down an old display to rip if off and throw it away, forgetting about it and focusing your attention on the new one. STOP! Unless something is literally falling apart, save it. Lettering takes so long to prepare and its wasteful to throw it away. My TA made up some box files labelled with each topic (told you she was amazing) and I put everything in there. Anything that doesn’t fit (like large banners or pictures) goes in folded sugar paper, stapled and labelled. It takes a bit of time to pack away but just think of the time you’ll save next year! You’ll be absolutely winning at display life.
5. Get the right balance
This is one I want to improve at next year. The guidance from our school is that displays should have a good balance of children’s work and printed out resources. The temptation to “over-Twinkl-fy” displays is tempting. Don’t get me wrong, I love Twinkl and my platinum subscription is highly adored (and abused, by my colleagues 😉 ) but I try to make sure what I print is meaningful and I rotate things on working walls as often as possible. It can be hard to get children’s work up regularly as, again, it is time consuming to select, photocopy and back but they do love it. One of the displays my children commented on the most was my outdoor one about Spring which had photographs of them and examples of work and they loved it!
6. Don’t overspend
I do dread to think how much I’ve spent on school things. It’s not right really, but we all do it because we want our classrooms to look nice. To be fair, we spend a LOT of our lives there! It doesn’t have to be overly expensive though. Always check in school first if there is anything that can be ordered there. If not, Poundland is great for display stuff (and as my mum continually reiterates when shopping there with me – “it’s only a pound?!”). Amazon is also a winner and charity shops are the obvious but useful choice. Also, ask other teachers if they have anything they no longer need or something you can borrow for your topic. There’s so much stuff lying around in cupboards, forgotten about! Take advantage and go on the scrounge. No shame, here.
6. Finally, take a picture of your completed display.
Sounds simple, but taking a picture of the completed display should save you time next year. It may seem obvious to you how the display has gone up but after a year of rotating displays and all the other stuff teaching brings, I imagine it’s easy to forget. Taking a picture gives you the chance to remember exactly how it went up, (and also show them off to your friends 😉 ).
I love seeing other people’s displays and classroom organisation, so please share any pictures or tips you might have! I’ve posted a few pictures of my classroom below and some displays I am proud of. I hope to add to these next year now that I have a bit more experience!
Enjoy the last half-term – summer is in sight!