How to Use Purposeful Decor to Decorate a Secondary Classroom

Hi again!
It's Brittany from The SuperHERO Teacher here and I'm going to talk about the one thing I feel I have TRULY mastered in the classroom and that's creating an engaging environment using purposeful classroom decor! It can be a challenge to decorate a middle or high school classroom without it appearing childish or bland. I've had the awesome opportunity to complete classroom makeovers and renovations for several secondary teachers. Below, you'll find my top seven tips for creating a space that is sophisticated and aesthetically appealing to secondary students.

It's super important that all of the decor in the classroom serves a purpose! So many learning opportunities can come from the displays in your classroom and I'm going to highlight some of them now.

1. Create an element of surprise.
A classroom library is essential, right? But how can we further motivate students to read independently and enjoy a book without judging it by its cover first? The element of surprise, of course! Try wrapping a few of your favorite books with colorful wrapping paper, attaching a brief description of the book and displaying it as decor in the classroom. When a student is ready for a new book, they can visit the display, read the descriptions and pick the one that appeals to them! I have a template here if you're interested, but creating this element of surprise is a visually appealing way that is also purposeful.

2. Print and frame motivational quotes.
There are so many incredible sites that provide motivational posters that are simultaneously GORGEOUS and can totally transform a space! For example, Amplifier Art provides FREE social justice posters for teachers. You can either have them delivered to you or print them yourself. These posters are not just beautiful, though. They have messages that will stick with your students for a long time! The motivational posters in the photo below are in my store here. 

PRO TEACHER TIP: Pair each piece of art with a QR code that links to an inspirational speech or poem that relates to the message! Students can scan the QR code with their phones and you've instantly created an interactive art gallery.

3. Display student work.
This is probably the easiest way to create classroom decor in a middle or high school classroom-- simply display your students' creative work! In one of my classroom makeovers, I used clothes hangers and coat racks to create this display. Here's the FREE "Rad Work" sign that you can download and use in your own classroom.

4. Design interactive bulletin boards. 
I am such a huge fan of interactive bulletin boards because students can actually work WITH the content on the bulletin board to build and strengthen skills. For example, I use this interactive reading literature bulletin board to inspire independent reading! Students can check out one of the 12 challenges, like reading a book that was published on their birthday, in exchange for extra credit (or whatever you prefer). Interactive bulletin boards allow you to create beautiful displays that simultaneously serve a purpose. Check out some of my other interactive bulletin boards here!

5. Use paint or removable wallpaper to transform the space. 
If you're allowed, use paint to completely transform your space. You'd be surprised at how big of a difference a fresh coat of white paint can make! Create a statement wall with a bold color or use removable wallpaper to catch your students' attention.

PRO TEACHER TIP: Use color psychology to ensure you're using colors that match the vibe you're trying to create in your classroom.

6. Include the cultures of your students. 
This tip is so important! Include the cultures of your students to create a space that is safe and inviting for every student that enters your classroom. During my classroom makeover in Monument Valley, Utah on the Navajo Reservation, I supported local small businesses to include their culture in the classroom.

7. Create sections in your classroom floor plan. 
Whether it's a classroom library or a zen zone, you can create a floor plan that is designed with purposeful classroom decor in mind! At the Monument Valley classroom renovation, I wanted to create an area in the room that allowed students to escape school work and practice mindfulness and meditation, so I created a Zen Zone. You can do the same thing with mindfulness books, magazines, yoga mats, etc. Purposeful and comfortable!

Thanks for reading and I hope you can implement some of these tips in your own classroom! Don't forget to download the Rad Work freebie here.

Brittany Jeltema

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