Choosing a classroom theme is one of the most important early decisions a teacher will make. Classroom themes vary widely from simple decoration to themes that become incorporated into every aspect of the classroom. Every teacher is different, and that is okay!
A classroom theme during COVID-19
At the time of publication of this post, most of the world is grappling with Covid-19.
This pandemic is leaving most teachers uncertain as to whether or not they will be teaching in a classroom or remotely this coming school year. However, just because learning may happen online this school year, doesn’t mean that a theme isn’t necessary.
In this blog post, I am going to give reasons why you should choose a theme no matter how instruction is delivered as well as tips on choosing and implementing your theme.
The best reason to choose a theme is to show off your personality! Whether you’re an avid beach lover, wannabe astronaut, or committed sustainability advocate, (or any of hundreds of other options) choosing a theme that matches your hobbies, interests or passions is a great way to incorporate those ideas into your classroom and help your students, parents, colleagues, and administrators get to know you.
Bringing it All Together
It can also give your classroom and the materials you use a cohesive look and feel. As I mentioned before, themes can be as elaborate or simple as you choose to make them. They can simply be a decoration for your classroom, or your can carry it throughout multiple areas.
Incorporating a classroom theme in multiple areas shows creativity and effort. This could, in turn, possibly translate into positive remarks in your evaluation, depending on what framework your district uses.
If you are uncertain of what classroom theme you want to go with, social media can be very helpful. Instagram and Pinterest are wonderful places to start looking for ideas.
Some great accounts to follow are:
There are many, many more that I could list, but this is a great starting point for you! Also, be sure to grab our freebie checklist for things to consider when choosing a theme.
Classroom Theme Chosen – now what?
After you have chosen a theme, start brainstorming ways to incorporate the theme and how you will do so. The most obvious way that you can incorporate the theme is in your classroom decoration. This can vary from just a simple color scheme to coordinated everything—labels, nametags, signs, posters, etc.
Only you can decide how much is enough for you.
Also, be sure to set a budget.
Starting from scratch as a new teacher or completely overhauling existing themes can be very costly. Start small and add on a little at a time. Ask friends and family members for donations, or just tell them what your theme is and they may offer items for you.
One of my former themes was rainforest. It tied to our broad concept of making a difference (a broad concept is often seen in inquiry classrooms to provide cohesion to curriculum) so it was very interwoven into everything we did.
I began to be known as the “rainforest lady” and, in fact, when my principal’s sister went to Costa Rica on vacation, she brought back items for my classroom and we hadn’t even officially met—she just knew about it from conversations with her family!
I also had a jungle animal theme for a few years well after that, and when a new teacher in my building chose the same theme, I gave her items I had purchased but never used because I was transitioning to a new theme that same year.
Just a final word of caution—while collecting items and having continuity of a theme can be great, be mindful that it doesn’t become cluttered or a distraction.
Virtual Classroom Themes
Themes aren’t just for physical spaces—they can definitely be incorporated into virtual learning as well.
If you have a dedicated area of your home that you are doing video conferencing with students, you could bring some of your theme into that area.
If you are using software like Zoom, you could choose a background that compliments your theme. (Creative Teaching Press offers free virtual backgrounds to match many of their popular themes.)
If you use breakout groups, you could name the groups according to your theme. You could create or use digital stickers or postcards with your theme. If you use Google Slides to organize or present instruction, you could incorporate your theme in those.
The same could be said for any print materials, newsletters or other items you send home in hard copy format. The possibilities are truly endless!
No matter what you choose for a theme or how much you incorporate it in your classroom, this shouldn’t be a stressful process. Don’t worry about having everything perfect, especially if this is your first year teaching. Just take your time and do what feels natural to you.
You will likely keep the same theme for awhile (it is costly, time consuming and stressful to try to completely revamp your entire theme each year!) so be sure it is something that fits you and make it your own! I’d love to know what classroom themes you have chosen!
Leave a comment below or tag me on social media (@yourteachingmentor) in your classroom theme posts. Happy teaching!
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