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Give the People What They Want #1

September 13, 2010

If I worked in advertising (which would be the absolute worst job in the world for me–I’m more the “You don’t want it? you don’t have to take it… and if you need it, you can find it cheaper here…”  kind of a person.) ANYWAY- if I DID work in advertising, I would open a blog. Each day, it tells you what people search for that lead them to your page.  So basically I see a lot of what you teachers out there google. (Ps, many of you are quite famous. You are googled a lot.  And thank you for the blog traffic, by the way.)

If I were smart (and had time) I would perhaps start an ongoing series and give it a clever title like “Give the people what they want MONDAYs.”    On each Monday, I’d write about the topics most searched for.   Because I’m still in beginning-of -school-year mode,  I resist starting ANYTHING that is not sustainable and hesitate to commit to an every monday post.  However. . . I am finding that writing continues to give me life even on the busy days, so why not… Why not give the people what they want?

Ideas so far. . .

1. The best of ______________. (enter your favorite keynote speaker/staff developer here.)

2. How to create a welcoming and fun environment. (LOTS of you google how to make a beautiful classroom!

3. Beginning of the year routines/building community (This could be a BOOK!  …maybe one day.)

MOST of you found my blog by googling “how to make a beautiful classroom.” Let’s start there.

As I reflect on my own classroom creations, I think I can name a few things that pass through my mind as I get a vision for a room. I can make a list of them, from practical to more big picture.

1. Get out all the trash or unused paper. (Do you have a hundred copies of a revision checklists and a million left over reading logs from 2002? Then recycle those mounds! No need for them. Start from scratch. Every year is different. The old has gone, the new has come! If you want or need a new feel/vibe, you need to take down the old.

2. Double border. I learned this from my angel mentor, Claire Mundy. What a DIFFERENCE!!! It’s like the difference between a  plain picture frame and a matted picture frame.

3. Pick themes and colors you love. If YOU adore your room, your kids will too. You will want to be there, and so will they. (Read Debbie Miller. Read lots of Debbie Miller.. for the reading instruction, but also for the climate she created in her class. Glorious.

4. Get rid of clutter. Just moving books from stacks to bins makes such a difference.

5. Quotes. What truths to you want embedded in your kids’ hearts and minds? Put them up!  “Poetry is not words that rhyme. It’s words that feel true.” -Georgia Heard  These words (even if I don’t TEACH this until Spring, which I hope isn’t the case) will reiterate to kids a timeless (and maybe surprising) truth about writing.

6. Think about the feeling you want to be tangible as people enter. For me, it is PEACE. I want kids and adults alike to walk in and feel something different. Feel a haven and a place of safety…a place of unconditional love and excitement. One year, I put up a poster by the door that simply said, “Do you know how much I love you?”… ANYTHING that, again, reiterates what you want students to know. This year, I have “Work Hard. Be Kind” in HUGE colorful letters along the wall. Your classroom should have your beliefs all over it.

7. Make it theirs. Kids love Chuck E. Cheese (Don’t worry, I just asked them why today, so it’s current) because it has everything that is for THEM. So make the classroom THEIRS. Give them ownership over where things should go…decorate it with their names and pictures and hang them at their eye-level. (I just bought frames and can’t wait to put random art in them!) Let them decorate their self-portraits and line them along the wall. Make it a kid’s paradise. My goal is to create an environment where kids come in and don’t want to leave!

8. Ok, this might seem superficial, but this is for you people who love decoration. I put border around my board and cabinets… and sometimes large posters. I adds a little something.

9. MUSIC.  yes, music. I prefer Bach in the mornings and Jack Johnson (if needed) in the afternoon. A little Vivaldi during writing (Baroque/Fugue-like music is fabulous for writing. Perhaps it’s the systematic patterns that keep the focus, who knows?)  Regardless, I think music adds beauty to any environment, so why not a classroom?

10.  YOU. I believe we bring more than our creativity to our classrooms, we bring our hearts and souls. You are in education because you love children. That love is going to permeate your room. Period. You make it beautiful.

Ps, Annie, here are pictures for you. Hopefully you can see the double border. 😉

Double Border

8 Comments leave one →
  1. Annie permalink
    September 13, 2010 9:19 pm

    Stop!!! I love this post. And I love your blog. Double Border? What does that look like? PLEASE send or post a picture. Other than double border… it sounds like you and I have very similar ideas about classroom space. And joy. And music. (I Love Debbie Miller, too).

    • September 13, 2010 9:45 pm

      Annie, thanks for the comment! It sounds like we’d be friends! Are we?

      I’ll try to post a picture on the original post. Music and Joy are two of my favorite things…i love that you make it a part of your classroom!

  2. September 13, 2010 10:11 pm

    I love how you used the blog stats’ most searched terms to write a post today. Can I borrow that the next time I am searching for a topic? 😉

    BTW: Great tips for creating a beautiful classroom. I think the most important one is MAKE IT THEIRS. That really helps create investment in the community, doesn’t it?

    • September 13, 2010 10:33 pm


      I always look at those search terms and wonder if people found what they were looking for… It does make for a great “I’m stuck” strategy, right?! 😉 Definitely use it!

  3. September 13, 2010 10:45 pm

    So… will this be a regular “feature?”

    • September 13, 2010 10:52 pm

      Maybe! After all, you guys ARE my mentor blog… and i LOVE that on Saturday mornings I get “Words that are Speaking to Me” or I know that I can always count on you to give us the best articles out there …i love knowing what’s coming. 🙂

  4. September 13, 2010 10:53 pm

    You’re too kind.

  5. Annie permalink
    September 14, 2010 7:59 am

    Thanks for adding the pictures, Lindsay!

    Your new friend,

    Annie 🙂

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