Is this display celebrating diversity or a waste of valuable teaching assistant time?
In the first week of my summer term online Classroom Displays Course we are once again looking at the thorny question of just what is the point of all these displays in UK schools.
Back in 2005, when I was doing my degree research, I worked out how much teaching assistant time was spent on displays in our school in one week. It was a scarily large amount. During the period I monitored I spent around 5.5 hours a week just working on classroom, hall and corridor displays. After checking with colleagues I discovered that was around the school average. That is a lot of TA time that might not be being spent directly with pupils. So what exactly is it all for?
Every time the course runs we come back to this question. There is a good deal of discussion of this point in Display in the Classroom: Principles, Practice and Learning Theory (ancient and out of print but 2nd hand copies do come up). If you are doing degree level work on displays it’s a great starting point.
The Level 2 Teaching Assistants courses usually ask you to cover the following purposes for displays:
• As a learning resource
• To celebrate achievement
• To celebrate diversity
• To promote a sense of community and belonging
• To improve the environment
• To provide information
• To prompt feedback
One of the most important reasons for making displays as far as I’m concerned is as learning resources. The time spent making them does not have to be wasted TA time. It can be very valuable pupil learning time. Working with the TA in small groups to produce a great display can give pupils who need it extra time to take in concepts and learn topic vocabulary. It just needs a little extra planning and remembering to keep the conversation on topic.
How do you make sure your displays are not just pretty wall paper that take up hours of TA or teacher time?