Should Teachers Decorate Their Classroom?



Have a Happy Holiday!

Melanie Zaragoza and Leona Ashley

“We design our world, while our world acts back on us and designs us.” – Anne-Marie Willis. What does this mean to you? Do you agree with it?Decorations in classrooms can be a great thing to have, but they can also have a negative effect on students. Let’s get into it.

According to Smithsonianmag.Com, students were given a poll about this topic and the answers are quite notable. Fifty five percent answered they prefer a white washed classroom, whilst forty two percent said they prefer a cluttered one. About ten percent of the students got distracted looking at all the decorations of the cluttered classroom.

A 7th grader who asked to not be identified, says, “In my opinion, teachers shouldn’t decorate their classroom because it can be distracting to students. We come to school to learn, not to doze off and daydream about the decorations in a classroom.” 

Although decorations can be very distracting to students proven by statistics, they can be beneficial to their learning as well. We gathered a quote from a student who believes that.

An anonymous 8th grader states, “In my opinion, I believe there should be decorations in the classroom because it makes students feel like they are the teacher’s first priority when it comes to learning. Simple classrooms are less interactive and personally make me feel tired or bored.” 

Decorations can have a positive result for students that prefer having a decorated classroom. As mentioned on, students prefer seeing these decorations as it makes them feel like they have a greater purpose for their learning. 

Decorations could both be distracting to students, because we are to focus on the teacher and what we’re learning, not get distracted by something unrelated. Decorations can also be useful as proven- students could be more comfortable in a classroom and can make it easier to learn. In the long run, it all really comes down to personal preference.

To add more controversy to this, what would the difference be if the decorations had to do with personal beliefs?

Holiday Decorations In Classrooms

People have many different beliefs ranging from Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, and many more holidays. The problems with these decorations would be that it could either be distracting or even harmful to students in classrooms.

The main problem with this is it can impact students’ learning environment and some may even take it as offensive as not everybody celebrates the same kind of belief. However, in the end, teachers do have the freewill to decorate the classroom to their liking as it is their classroom.

Teachers usually like decorating for the holidays, whether it’s fairy lights, snowflakes, snowmen, gingerbread men, etc. Some teachers like to stick to one particular holiday, while other teachers would generally just want to stick to a winter theme. As we don’t exactly know what the thinking process of a teacher is when decorating, we got insight of how it goes with Mrs. Reddingus. 

MZ: Do you think there is any physiological impact on students surrounded              with holiday decorations that are not related to their beliefs? 

MR: It is dependent on the individual. I personally have no issue seeing decorations of all shapes, sizes, or meanings. Some may take offense to it as it’s not really a yes or no question. It would really just depend on the person.

MZ: Do you think these decorations would affect students in a positive or negative way?

MR: It could be from both perspectives.

LA: Alright. Do you believe these decorations would be appropriate in a classroom in general?

MR: I don’t think it would be appropriate in a classroom in general just because if anybody could receive it negatively, then you’re not taking those students into consideration. If you would want to do a general winter theme, I think that would be fantastic! Personally, I think decorations that motivate students and are motivational is my take on decorating. 

Keep in mind that other students could possibly have some type of reaction to these decorations is always something useful to have when decorating. As Mrs. Reddingus said, taking students into consideration is something you need to do, so students don’t get hurt or offended by seeing these things. Sticking to motivational or non-traditional decorations could possibly always be the greater choice. As someone else who also loves decorating for the holiday, Mrs. Terhune, we asked her take on this!

MZ: Do you think holiday decorations would have any impact on students- let’s say the decorations were Christmas related but someone didn’t have that same belief, do you think that would have any impact?

MT: That’s a good question because Christmas is a big holiday in America specifically but it is also a religious holiday. Some people consider it religious, while others consider it a gift giving holiday. I used to decorate my room, but I tried to keep it winter themed. If I do put up decorations, I don’t put up a tree anymore because I try to be respectful of the fact that some people could find it offensive. So, I don’t celebrate it in my classroom as Christmas. I try to keep if more winter themed, but I can understand both sides of the argument. I feel like you have to be sort of specific and in the end I have gone over to the side of maybe.

Having decorations in your classroom can always be great to have, it could make the learning environments a cozier and fun place for students. Putting up a tree could be taken the wrong way, so being cautious with these type of decorations could always be good to do. Having snowflakes or anything like that wouldn’t be that offensive, since it is sticking more to a winter theme.

MZ: Do you think these would affect students in a positive or negative way?

MT:  I think decorations and putting up things in your room, you want to create a comfortable learning environment so that students want to be there and that’s mostly always my goal on setting up my classroom and I try to spend time on it.

Making sure that the environment around you and your students is always something important to focus on. Making it seem like you actually take time to make your classroom feel comfortable is always something good for your students.

MT: On the other hand, if it is something that feels like you’re forcing them to celebrate a religious holiday that they don’t want to celebrate, then that to them could be a lot more hurtful. So I’ve decided to err more on the side of not putting up any decorations that could make them feel that way.

Decorating is always a fun activity to do! As it’s the opposite when having to take down decorations. Keeping your holiday decorations more simple could always be good, snowflakes, a snowman, the typical holiday decorations. Kids could always see it as a negative or positive way, it always matters how THEY look at it. Maybe kids could look at it from a positive way. As Ms. Clark mentioned it when we interviewed her. 

MZ: Do you think there is any psychological impact on students surrounded              with holiday decorations that are not related to their beliefs? 

MC: I think the world is surrounded by things we can all learn and grow from. I believe school is the best place to display things to learn from. So I don’t think students would- they might feel left out, but hopefully maybe they would be inquisitive and ask what it is. Hopefully, if teachers here are putting up decorations, they would put up things that reflect multiple beliefs and ideas. I honestly learned from a student about Kwanzaa about two years ago. I didn’t know what this family did to celebrate it, and it came from a teacher having a Kwanzaa display in their classroom. I asked questions about it and the student knew about Kwanzaa from the teacher, so I learned from a holiday display about how other people celebrate the holiday. To me I think it is a good opportunity for us to learn and respect each other’s beliefs. 

MZ: Do you think these decorations would be appropriate in a classroom? 

MC: I do! I think I already stated, I think as long as there are different reflections of that and they’re done in a way that’s tasteful, that we could learn from. Yes, I do think that it’s good, it brings cheer to the classroom. I know that there is what, Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa. You know, I know the candle for Kwanzaa, I’m not really sure what it’s called, and the dreidel, and the menorah, there’s christmas trees, there’s all different things! You know, as long as they’re not distracting from what we’re supposed to be doing or taking up space, then they could be great.

MZ: Do you think it would affect more in a positive or negative way?

MC: I’ve seen both sides of it. I was a teacher for a long time and I think it can make students feel like school is out before it actually is, because if they know that break is coming, so when I taught sixth grade for example, and you would start talking about fall or christmas break is coming up, they start checking out on their assignments, since they think, “Oh, its break time!” They kind of get that mindset that a break is coming, “Oh, I’m gonna take my break early.’ At the same time it always does add cheer and a sense of community to our school, so it’s good!

A student having knowledge about these different kinds of holidays is great and highly beneficial. However, these problems could always have two sides to it, positive and negative sides. As Ms. Clark said above, decorations could really make students and teachers feel at home and make the classroom feel joyful! As some decorations could always be beneficial to us, we could learn from them. The negative effect of this being that it can be taken the wrong way, make students feel like they don’t have to do anything at all, or even make them feel excluded. 

Winter landscape! (Johannes Franciscus Hoppenbrouwers)

So, should teachers decorate their classroom? They always can, as it’s their choice. It’s always fun to decorate your classroom and really make it feel like it’s holiday time. It doesn’t really have to stick to one particular holiday, it could always just be a fun holiday winter theme! It could always help us students feel comfortable in the environment we are around. Us, students, could always learn about the different holidays/traditions there are! As that could really help with making other students feel accepted that have these kinds of beliefs. So, would you want your teacher’s classroom decorated? If so, how would you want it decorated?