Drink more water. Eat healthy. Get more sleep. Exercise. Listen to music. Go outside. Redecorate.
Wait….redecorate? We’ve all heard the predictable recommendations for improving mood and energy mid-school year. But have you ever thought about revisiting your classroom decorations mid-year to improve mood and morale? Keep reading to learn why this unconventional approach might be just what you need to get through the kind of physical, emotional tired teachers experience every year.
Sometimes it happens early. November, for instance – you’re so tired. You’ve made it through the first rounds of MAP testing, exhausted yourself by pouring your heart and soul into teaching your students to write an essay or to analyze Shakespeare…but you’re not close enough to winter break to feel any relief.
Other times, it’s mid-year. Januray, February…summer is too far away, but you’re ready for it, like – tomorrow.
Eating healthy, getting fresh air, sleeping better, and exercising. These solutions are practical and effective. Still, sometimes, we need more. If you’re in that place where you need a pick-me-up, but you are looking for a new source of inspiration, try redecorating your classroom to improve your morale.
It doesn’t require a whole make-over. Little changes here and there might just be enough. Enlist the help of a co-worker to make it a collaborative endeavor you’ll both enjoy. Here are suggestions you might try.
CLASSROOM DECORATIONS: IDEAS FOR THE TIRED TEACHER
There’s a reason shows like Hoarders have made it big-time. Clutter can lead to depression. It’s overwhelming to walk into a classroom full of junk. The first step to redecorating mid-year is simply to purge. Get rid of things you don’t need. Do you own reference books that have been sitting on your shelves collecting dust for years? It’s time to donate them. Are you keeping gobs of student work as examples but haven’t actually assigned those projects since 1999? Toss them. Go through your desk drawers. Do you really need 5, 389 pens? Pick your favorites. Regift the rest.
2. Redefine the Space
Make sure there is a clear pathway to the door. Rearrange desks. Sometimes we put up with a seating arrangement that clashes with our sense of inner harmony just because it’s easy or because it’s what we’ve always done. What works for other teachers might not gel with your style. What worked last year might flop with a new group of students. When we spend an endless amount of time on classroom management due, in part, to poorly organized desks, we get TIRED. When we look at the same seating arrangement all year, we get BORED. Have you ever noticed how a room in your home can feel completely different just by moving a sofa? Same concept.
Consider adding a reading corner with an area rug. Separate it from the rest of the room with a bookshelf. Little reading nooks are always uplifting – for teachers and students.
3. Organize Efficiently
If you’re anything like me, you find yourself making multiple trips across the room to file cabinets, garbage cans, and recycle bins. Conserve your energy, limit your frustration, and increase productivity by placing these items close to you. Do you end up with piles of paperwork covering your desk? Create a system that will allow you to easily put the papers in their correct places as they come in (garbage, recycle, folder, drawer, etcetera) so that you don’t have to deal with the stress and overwhelming feeling of sorting through it all later.
4. Maximize Light
Light is one of the most powerful tools when it comes to feng shui. To improve your mood and your classroom atmosphere, try cleaning your classroom windows, adding soft lamp lighting or rope lighting, and even adding some simple homemade curtains to control the amount of light entering the room and to create a homey touch.
5. Appeal to the Senses
Sound and smell can greatly impact our mood and energy levels. Add a plant or two to your classroom decor. They can minimize stress and improve concentration. Students will jump at the opportunity to help you care for them. If your school allows, add a fragrance plug-in or fresh flowers to mask some of the natural odors that occur in classrooms full of bodies. Consider playing music – even sounds from nature or instrumentals if pop culture tunes don’t do it for you.
Basically – Maximize the sounds and smells that make you happy. Minimize the ones that don’t.
6. Add Photos
We often do a wonderful job of decorating our classrooms with student work…and we should. However, it’s also important to decorate with pictures. Redecorating mid-year by changing out old pictures of family and friends with new ones can help to improve our focus and inner happiness. Photos also allow students to see us as real people. They open up doors for discussion and remind us that while our job is important – we are people outside of it.
7. Consider Color
It’s no surprise that color influences mood. Yet, we often neglect colors as the year progresses. Just because we begin the school year with one color scheme doesn’t mean we can’t alter it mid-way through.
It’s important to remember that each color has a psychological value. If you’re feeling tired, depressed, uninspired, or bored, think about how certain colors make you feel. Feeling forgetful? Try yellow – it’s a memory stimulator. Are your students disengaged? Incorporate red to stimulate brain wave activity.
Bare in mind that some colors in large amounts might have the opposite effect as intended on you and your students. Altering colors doesn’t require painting the entire room purple. You can do little things to add color and inspiration: add a new throw pillow in your reading nook, change the fabric color on your bulletin board, purchase some new colorful post-its and stationary; even changing the background on your desktop computer can make a difference. Pretty pens? Yes, please! Give your students colorful construction paper or Astrobrights and ask them to complete their project using shades that appeal to their own emotional needs.
Redecorating your classroom mid-year can do wonders to improve your mood, increase your inspiration, and reduce your stress. Choose one or two things to try, and see how you feel. You might just be surprised that the psychological benefits of classroom decorations really do impact your mood and energy level.
Teachers are busy. We often neglect the upkeep of our space as the year progresses due to the time-consuming nature of the other aspects of our jobs (meetings, lesson planning, grading, etc.). Still, if our classroom is a place both we and our students enjoy coming to, our overall happiness and energy will improve. Of course, a glass of water, a nap, and a walk outside wouldn’t hurt either.
Want to read more? High school classes require special consideration, but classroom decorations for the secondary level can be engaging and unique.