A brief glance at a site such as Pinterest will offer hundreds (even thousands) of ideas for brightening up your classroom.

These can be inspiring and encouraging and offer a welcome distraction from tasks such as grading essays and writing up reports.

However, as an increasing number of teachers log on to blogging, social and sharing sites, so does the pressure to create adorable classroom environments for kids of all ages. Expectations surrounding classroom decor seem to be getting higher, prompting many teachers to come up with more extravagant classroom accessories.

Whilst there is nothing wrong with decorating a classroom to look welcoming and to inspire learning, excessively decorating your students’ learning space can get in the way of learning and can end up wasting your precious time.

Fortunately, we’ve put together a helpful list of warning signs that may indicate your passion for elaborate classroom accessories has gone a bit too far:

1. You feel inadequate compared to other teachers you see online

If you find yourself obsessively comparing your classroom to those of others, you may end up feeling stressed, inadequate and frustrated. Remember that the online world is full of highly staged and edited photos designed to look impossibly beautiful.

Remember that if you stress yourself out your teaching will suffer. Give yourself a break and focus on the learning and well-being of your students.

2. You opt for cuteness over practicality

Sure, cute classrooms can be joyful and fun, but learning spaces that lack practical features can impede learning. For example, if you install a set of new storage units that look amazing but are difficult to open, the classroom environment will paradoxically end up feeling more hostile to students. Let kids be kids and opt for simple furniture items that they can access freely.

This could include:
  • Simple crates and boxes filled with books or stationery.
  • Accessible bookshelves that are accessible for kids of all heights.
  • Comfortable chairs.
  • Light fittings that are simple to operate.
  • Tables that can be moved around easily to suit different situations.

3. You decorate the classroom according to your own personal tastes

Try not to base the classroom around your own aesthetic preferences. If you’re a fan of pink, for example, kitting out the classroom in different shades of the color could end up alienating students, parents, and other members of the class.

The same goes for specific themes or idiosyncratic styles. This list of classroom interior design ‘dos and don’ts may prove very useful if you need help coming up with appropriate decoration ideas.

4. Classroom decorations are starting to distract students

As most teachers are well aware, kids’ attention spans can be brief at the best of times, and elaborate classroom designs can make keeping students focused even more difficult. Classroom decorations should aid learning rather than hamper it.

To motivate students and help them learn, try decorating the classroom with student artwork, motivational messages, or helpful diagrams and charts. As long as your decorations are education-focused, your students should see some benefit.

5. You find yourself prioritizing the wrong things

If you start prioritizing classroom aesthetics over teaching, you should know that something is wrong. Classroom decoration should come way below tasks such as planning lessons, building strong classroom relationships, or grading essays.

Remember that you are not paid to be an interior designer!