Do You Suffer From Classroom Envy?

There have been a few realities that have caught me off guard since I signed up to being a teacher. The expectation of a meticulously presented classroom is certainly one of them. I’m not an artistic person. My creativity comes from writing and thinking innovatively, but I am inept at decorating. Design school’s nationwide are not flocking to mimic my inimitable low-key style.

I knew that a classroom should look bright, contain student work and be aesthetically pleasing. What I didn’t know, that I have seen learned, was that teachers are inherently obsessive with the look and feel of their classroom. From the table layout to the perfectly hand-crafted posters and signs. Teachers are constantly shopping for material, furniture and accessories to beautify their classroom.

Often it’s a competition. The other day I complemented a colleague about her majestic looking classroom in the presence of another colleague. Only later was I told that by praising that colleague I had potentially upset the other who was already anxious about her classroom not matching up to others aesthetically.

It reminds me of the Christmas lights battle that takes place in some neighbourhoods. What starts out as an expression of good will and festivity, can sometimes turn in to a competitive slugfest. I am not a competitive person at the best of times. In this context, my classroom isn’t simply inferior, compared to the others it looks like a jungle.

My bosses past and present have continually made insensitive comments about the look of my classroom. It’s not as if I don’t try. Sure, it doesn’t size up to the others, but I still maintain it possesses a quaint charm (well that’s my spin on it anyway).

I once apologised to a parent about the look of my classroom during a meeting. The parent responded by pointing out that she doesn’t care what the classroom looks like, just as long as her child is happy and learning well.

Is that representative of other parents? Is it a case of style vs substance? Or, perhaps I am depriving my students of a classroom they can be more proud of. Perhaps like my students I have to improve at skills that don’t come naturally to me. I have to get better at cutting big, beautiful, cardboard letters for my brightly coloured welcome sign.

Is this just my experience? Are there other teachers who have an insecurity over the look of their classrooms? Are any of you envious of the classroom next door?

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5 Responses to “Do You Suffer From Classroom Envy?”

  1. randomyriad Says:

    I think that around my work we inspire each other to include new items and rearrange to make things work better, but I definitely feel envious when I see another teachers great ideas. I have no shame in stealing them though, if I think they will work in my room, the ideas not the actual things.

  2. Anthony Purcell Says:

    I completely agree with the parent. Why are you in the classroom? Are there to have the best looking room in the world to show off what you can do in decorating, or are you there to teach and show off the students? I think too many teachers want to show themselves off that they forget why they are really there.

  3. Margaret Reyes Dempsey Says:

    As a parent, I’ll jump in and say that it might be nice to have some things hanging in the classroom that inspire the kids and to change it up occasionally. I also think it’s nice if their work gets featured. I always found it fascinating to walk around the classroom and find my son’s various projects when it was open-school night. One year, the teacher gathered up all the projects they had worked on till that point and put them in individual pizza boxes that the parents were able to carry home.

  4. gasstationwithoutpumps Says:

    As a parent, I liked classrooms that had student work (so I could see what the class was doing) and walls of books. Comfortable reading spaces were always a plus. Puzzles and science equipment were pluses. Motivational posters were a distinct minus. Cutesy stuff done by the teacher was double-plus ungood.

  5. kadja2 Says:

    I teach high school and I do display student work. Their portfolios are also on their desks for parents to see during open house, and I do have them do artwork from time to time, reflective of their lessons in class–or if it is a “free day” something that they want to share!

    These guys get really creative too! I had a football player come up with a poster with a 3D effect! He kept it up in his own room until he graduated and gave it to his mom! She has it hanging in the hallway to this day!

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