Setting up classroom displays and bulletin boards is a lot of work. Displaying student work is important because it shows students we value it, but it’s hard to find the time to do it. Most teachers rush around for open houses and parent/teacher conferences to get the classroom ready. Who doesn’t want a classroom that looks beautiful with shining work upon the walls? I’ve been there too. But I believe it’s important to share and display student work year-round, even in the upper elementary grades.
When I Learned How Important Sharing and Displaying Student Work is
I first started teaching in a private preschool. I didn’t particularly like the school, but I did learn a lot while I worked there. I learned about child growth and development in the real world. I figured out how to occupy a room full of three-year-old children. I managed to teach the kids how to blow their noses and sweep. I also learned how incredibly important it is for students to see their work hanging on the wall. Displaying student work shows our students that we value their work and effort. It’s one of those important pieces of information I have carried with me over the years. I want my students to know that I value their work. I want them to know that their writing and creations are meant to be shared with each other and the world.
We Have to Make Time for Sharing and Displaying Student Work
Teachers are always short on time and it’s our lack of time that stops us from sharingour students’ work more often. Something in the schedule has got to give and it’s usually sharing work. Sharing student work is time-consuming, whether you are hanging it on a bulletin board or actively sharing it in class.
Why Should Teachers Share and Displaying Student Work?
You should know that the time and effort you put into hanging student work on your walls is well worth it. It takes a lot of effort to get students’ work up on the walls, especially if they are cement or brick and nothing sticks to them. You are doing more than making your walls look cute. Sharing student work is important to the learning process, it doesn’t just create a cute classroom. Here are just a few reasons sharing and displaying student work is important.
- Feel special and continue to work.
- Students also get used to sharing their work with others so it’s easier to share it as they get older.
- By sharing their work with each other they can learn more from each other.
- When we display our students’ work it shows them we value progress, the process, and the finished product.
- It gives students an audience and it meets the state standards (specifically for writing). The final step of the writing process that we are supposed to be teaching our students is publishing and sharing.
The Best Ways for Sharing and Displaying Student Work
The Best Tips for Successfully Sharing and Displaying Student Work
We know that we value our students’ work, but sharing and displaying their work shows them that. The classroom is a community created by students with their teachers. Sharing student work and involving students in the process builds the classroom community. And did you know that students will look at their work more than they will at commercial posters? Looking at their own and their classmates’ work will help them learn and grow.
Sharing Student Work in the Classroom
I worked with a recreational gymnastics team. We didn’t compete very often so it was extremely scary for them to compete. Now my gymnasts that compete regularly don’t think of it as a big deal. They get excited and nervous, but because they do it regularly it’s not paralyzing for them.
Sharing Student Work as a Whole Grade
Displaying Student Work on Bulletin Boards and Walls
I’ve got some great tips for how to do this so it’s successful. If you involve students in the process and have them help it will be easier to get your displays up.
1. Less is More When Sharing and Displaying Student Work
If you think everything we’ve talked about so far sounds great and you are ready to get going, take a deep breath. Less is more. If your students are sharing writing then have them read their favorite paragraph or maybe just a short poem. If you are hanging their work then be sure that you aren’t overloading the walls. It should add value to the classroom, not overwhelm the atmosphere or distract the students.
2. Displaying Student Work at Eye Level
I know you have limited space, but try to keep student work at eye level. This is especially important with younger kids, so try not to hang anything too high or too low. The less is more tip can help with this because you don’t need to put everything up.
3. Displaying Student Work that the Students Chose
Have your students help pick what work should be displayed. This gives students ownership of their work and the classroom. It will also keep them on their toes because they never know which work they will want to hang up to. I do see one challenge with this, teachers love symmetry.
Teachers like their classroom walls to have symmetry and match. I have known a lot of teachers who like to have control. If this is you, could you give students a choice of two pieces of work and just create two small displays instead of one big one? Or if you want the whole thing to match students can vote for a particular assignment.
Putting up a mismatched display is a challenge for me, but I think that if I approached it like this it would help me stay sane. I also like the idea of giving them more ownership and showing their individuality.
4. Displaying Student Work That Isn’t Finished
Have you ever taken pictures of students while they are working on a project? I have, but I’ve never thought about displaying them so students can see the steps of their work. Nor would I have thought about them referring back to the steps to continue their learning. Have you ever displayed unfinished pieces? I haven’t it seems wrong. But it shows students it’s about progress and growth, not perfection.
5. Include Everyone While Displaying Student Work
I feel like this should go without saying in our modern world, but try to make a point of giving everyone jobs and listening to everyone’s opinion.
6. Have a Purpose for Sharing Student Work
Now that you know your students are going to be looking at it and learning from it be sure that you don’t just throw up a piece of work to have something up. Try to think of a purpose behind it. What do you want your students to get from sharing their work?
When it comes to displaying student work there are some crazy creative ideas out there, but you don’t have to go crazy.
Sharing and Displaying Student Work for Parents
Bringing parents into the classroom can be intimidating. They come in for open houses and parent/teacher conferences. Maybe your grade or school has an annual event too. Sometimes we need a chaperone for a field trip too. If we are lucky we have a fantastic room parent who knows how to how to help without overstepping boundaries.
Why do we tend to limit parents to these events and jobs? I think it’s because there have been so many overbearing or judgmental parents. We are trying to avoid conflict or confrontation. That seems like a great reason to me.
But if we bring parents in more often to hear their child’s work it will help build a good parent-teacher relationship where we can work as a team. It will also let their parents see what happens in the classroom.
Having parents come into the classroom say once a month to hear student work is a great opportunity to build relationships, create involvement, and help students grow. We also aren’t used to parents coming into the classroom regularly. It just takes practice.
Sharing and Displaying Student Work is About Growth, Not Perfection
It’s easy to get caught up in having a Pinterest-worth or Insta-perfect classroom. But that’s not what teaching is about. It’s about celebrating every little step in the right direction. Sharing or displaying student work is a great way to send this message clearly to our students.
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Here is Your FREE Prompt for Writing Poetry
I know that you needed a prompt to help kickstart your students’ writing. Here is an entire lesson for FREE. My Our School Poem guides students through using sensory language to describe their school. The step-by-step directions guide your class through the writing process with all the necessary worksheets make this the perfect lesson for your classroom.