Creating a welcoming classroom environment is easier than you thought, and the secret might surprise you! As teachers, especially at the start of school, we are bombarded with all the stuff and all the things that we are supposed to buy for our classroom and our students. I’ve been there. I’ve done it. But, over the years I’ve learned that the secret to creating a welcoming classroom environment isn’t actually buying lots of stuff… it’s about less stuff.
Be purposeful with your wall space
You never want too much stuff on your walls because it can be overstimulating to students and distract them from their learning. The charts and posters also lose their purpose by being on a crowded wall space. But this post isn’t about wall space- it’s about creating a welcoming classroom environment for the start of school.
While you might love having the perfect bulletin board designed and set up for your students before they even walk through the door, it might actually be more welcoming to leave the bulletin boards blank. This signals to the students that you are waiting for them to make this room their own. This says that this room is for them and their learning. I’ve seen some amazing educators have students create the bulletin borders or color in the letters for the bulletin board headings during the first weeks of school. What a great way to create a welcoming classroom environment!
Have a place for student work
This tip goes hand in hand with having some blank space around your room. There needs to be space for student work in your classroom. Your students want to feel that their work is important and valued. Having a designated place to put their work is a critical step to making a welcoming classroom.
I love having these squares in my classroom to hang student work. Each student gets a square and the sticky clips make it easy to hang up and switch out student work. They are made with laminated scrapbooking paper. Obviously, I loved the watercolor theme! I typically hang the papers that I then save to put in their end of the year memory book.
We also make classroom books out of a lot of student work. These get put into display in the classroom library and children love being able to look at them just like any other published work! These class books are also always out on display when parents come in so students can show off their work.
A welcoming classroom environment needs Student names everywhere
Students need to see their names all around the classroom when they first walk in the door. I have my sign in charts and name tags ready to go before any visit days. This helps them to feel welcome and included and it signals that this is their room – it is made for them. Having student names around the room also helps students to learn each other’s names. They can use the sign in and name tags to help with spelling everyone’s names. Some students still need the practice for their own names as well.
I also love putting up student photos wherever I can. I put them next to the job chart and move the photos around to change the jobs. Sometimes I hang up family photos the children provide too. I love seeing how some classes use photos to make a number line (with photos of the children’s hands) or routine posters to help them remember how to sit on the rug or get ready to pack up at the end of the day.
Creating a welcoming classroom environment before students arrive is easy with these three tips. Remember that less is more. You want blank space on your walls and bulletin boards. It helps to have designated spaces for student work to go on display. Finally, put students’ names and photos around the room as much as possible. Remember that to make a classroom feel welcoming to students, they have to really feel like it is a classroom designed for them and one that they can make their own.
Check out these other great blogs with tips for back to school!