Bulletin Boards and Wall Décor for High School English Classrooms
Recently, one of my English department colleagues came to drop off a box of books in my classroom. This is the ninth year that I have been in this same classroom, but before that, the classroom was hers. After she put the box down, she commented, with nostalgia, about how I have kept the border decorations that she left me on the bulletin board that is the back wall of my classroom. It occurred to me then that what I have created to decorate my classroom space really does mean something. My classroom is the space where I spend many hours, so it should be a comfortable space to work. More importantly, I want to create a space that is welcoming and stimulating for my students, without the décor being a distraction. Therefore, I put a lot of thought and effort into the bulletin boards and walls, like so many teachers do. Below are ideas that I have implemented over the years.
Welcome and Inspire
My classroom space has a bit of an entryway, which is lined on one side with a great big bulletin board. When students are in the classroom, most of them cannot see this board, so it is not one that I would use to hang items being used for instruction. Instead, I decided to make it a wall that welcomes and, hopefully, inspires students. Before I became a teacher in New York State, I spent a few years working and traveling abroad. While I was traveling, I collected quite a collection of postcards from different places that I visited or lived. Instead of leaving them in a box, I decided to share them with my students, and make them the central focus of my welcoming bulletin board. I made a broken banner out of four pieces of card stock that say, “Reading Takes You Places,” and surrounded it with my postcard collection. In addition to that, I have posters and images about reading, which is appropriate in an English classroom. I hung the poster of “The Thinker” that I got at the Rodin Museum in Paris, and I surrounded it with the keywords that represent the standards for English. The bulletin board is colorful and inviting.
My first teaching job was at Bow School in East London. I started there as a supply (substitute) teacher and found myself teaching English before the year was out. One of the classes I taught was a year 9 class of 28 boys, 27 of whom spoke English as a second language. There were so many obstacles to overcome, but one of the biggest was trying to figure out how to teach Shakespeare to this group. They had to be prepared to sit for their year 9 national exams, which included a test on Shakespeare. We read and studied Macbeth. One of the things I did to help support my classroom instruction of this difficult play was to create a bulletin board that told the story of Macbeth visually. I recall spending hours photocopying, cutting, laminating, and organizing this bulletin board. In the end, though, it was worth it. As we made our way through our study of the play, I was able to refer to the images in order to remind students of the basic plot of the play, as we dug deeper and analyzed Shakespeare’s story. I made that bulletin board over ten years ago, but it is one that sticks in my memory.
Who Needs a Bulletin Board?
Although I have more bulletin board space than most, I have extended my displays well beyond the boards. In my current classroom, I have a whole wall dedicated to Shakespeare. Having lived in London, I visited Shakespeare's Globe Theater on many occasions, and over the years I collected some fantastic posters. Since I am a bit obsessed with Shakespeare, I have given over the wall with windows to Shakespeare. I have timeline posters, quote posters, images of The Globe, inside and out, and images of Shakespeare himself. I had a couple of postcards that I bought in Stratford-Upon-Avon blown up to make posters as well. My students think I am a bit crazy about Shakespeare, but a good, and sometimes infectious, crazy.
Along the opposite wall, I have a wall of cabinets and filing draws. Over the years, I have used the cabinet doors to hang word walls of vocabulary, sentence starters, writing tips, and posters of exam questions. I also, on occasion, will hang poster paper there when we are going to do an activity in stations, or a carousel lesson. I can then leave the work students have created hanging, especially when the activity is a brainstorming session meant to help them generate ideas for an upcoming assignment.
Consider Color in Your Classroom Decor
Learn more b reading the article The Top Color Schemes for a School Classroom by teaches12345.
- Make a poetry board: Sometimes I will pull out my magnetic poetry kits and stick the magnets on the chalkboard when I know we won’t need it for a few days. I wish there was a way to magnetize the side of my coat closet that is the end of the entry way into my classroom so that we would have a permanent home for the magnetic poetry. Without a magnetic surface, I suppose it would be fun to create a poetry board using words that are hung up with push pins.
- Hang inspirational posters and quotes: Ask students to find their favorite quote from literature and create an image of that quote for display.
- Student work and artwork: It is always a great idea to hang up student work, as they can be proud to have their work featured.
- Examples of good writing: Create a space dedicated to good writing. Post examples of excellent student writing, and contribute some of your own writing to provide examples that meet your expectations.
- Notices of happenings at school: Right now on the end of my white board, there are notices hanging from magnetic clips that announce important happenings at school that my students need to know about. The information they need about PSATs, fundraising, and an upcoming Arts Exploration event are there for them to peruse as they hand in homework or enter and exit the room. Creating a sense of community is important, so leave space for announcements.
- Hang posters of school plays: Support the drama club at your school by hanging posters of their productions alongside the film posters of novels that you read. It will make the student actors in your classroom proud of their own work.
I remember subbing for a high school teacher once that had his walls covered with posters of bands he liked. He was a social studies teacher, and I remember being distracted by the busy walls full of irrelevant materials. I decided then that I didn’t want to create a similar feel when I got my own classroom. Instead, I have used the ideas listed about to make my classroom a welcoming environment that stimulates but doesn’t distract.
Posters for the Bulletin Board in your English Classroom
Questions & Answers
© 2012 Donna Hilbrandt