At the beginning of each school year teachers take the time to hang up posters, add eye-catching borders to bulletin boards, strategically place attention-focusing instruments around the classroom, and much more. All these elements are designed to create an atmosphere, an ambiance if you will. These elements help to set the tone. Throughout the year, teachers add anchor charts, rotate leveled books, change posters, put up student work, and design fun bulletin boards to encourage, support, and educate the students as they gaze around the room.
A+ for creating this space for your students to thrive.
But what about you? The teacher. What motivates, encourages, and informs you?
One key element you should consider adding to your classroom wall is a display just for you. It is your classroom after all. “Oooops! Did I just type that in real life?” I know there are other bloggers, administrators, and coaches saying to minimize the teacher footprint in the classroom. I get it, and I agree for the most part. Get rid of your huge desk and shelves filled with professional texts. Do not, however, erase your identity from the classroom.
Find a space on the wall near your desk or podium and encourage, support, or educate yourself. This little addition is what I like to call my Professional Power Up space. It is an area filled with little reminders of greatness, tokens of strength, and dollops of wisdom to keep me going through my day.
Creating a classroom culture where students thrive begins with the teacher. YOU are the leader in the classroom. You set the tone from the moment the students walk through your classroom door until the bell rings. So, make sure the atmosphere nurtures you as well.
Keep in mind that just like every other display in your classroom, the Professional Power Up space needs to change from time to time. You may want to refresh your power up pieces based on the academic, sports, or calendar seasons. You don’t want this to be stressful.
Here are some examples of Professional Power Up spaces I have created.
Remember, these are just examples. This is the type of display that inspires me. Maybe you love a painting. Hang that. Maybe you have a rocking chair that was your grandmother’s. She inspired you and sitting in that chair while doing a read aloud energizes you.
Two things I love about the Professional Power Up space is 1) it allows your students and colleagues a chance to know you a little better. When your students know about you, they begin to trust you. They see that you are a person who needs encouragement and motivation, a person who is seeking to be inspired. 2) The Professional Power Up space is a conversation starter. Your students will want to know why you added something to your space. What a great way to start a conversation that is appropriate, but not purely academic. It is often these types of conversations that inspire students to do more and be more.
If you really want to take it to the next level, have your students create their own Power Up space. This could be a small area of their desk or binder. It should be located somewhere they can see it every day. This is a great idea for a beginning of the school year activity. Then, students can refresh it at the beginning of every quarter.
What I’ve found is that students liked my space so much they started to either create one on their own, or ask if it could be a class project. It gave them a sense of ownership in the class and provided an opportuity for self reflection and growth.
Taking time to think about who we are and what makes us happy is so important. One of the first steps in creating a classroom where students thrive is making sure you, their teacher, their cheerleader, their facilitator, their guide are able to find joy. The students can sense when you are running low. So… “Power Up”!
Cheers to creating a little slice of motivation!