I use this video during the first week of the Classroom Displays Starter course and I’m always interested to see learners responses. Just why do we make all these displays?
Jamie, an NQT (Newly Qualified Teacher), challenged Teacher’s TV experts to help him with specific issues in his classroom set up and to explain why we make classroom displays at all.
The Teachers TV team come up with some interesting and some unexpected answers. The programme is well worth watching to the end. I wonder if you agree with one of the experts that plain white walls might be the best learning environment?
First Miranda meets Tim Benson, the headteacher of one of the UK’s largest primary schools. Tim offers some advice on getting the students involved in displays and making sure they reflect the diversity of the school community.
She then goes north to Lancashire to meet the executive headteacher of Alder Grange Technology and Community School and Sean McDougall from the Design Council. They look at different ways of arranging the classroom.
Finally, Miranda calls on Ian Jordan, an orthoscopic researcher, for his views on the impact of the classroom environment on teaching and learning.
Jamie asks about effective ways to organise the classroom environment. His interest is motivated by concerns about the disruption caused by a small group of boys who sit together for some lessons, and also by contrasting reports he has heard about the best way of using wall space.
Four experts from different fields are consulted:
* A primary school headteacher
* An executive headteacher in a Community and Technology School, school working in conjunction with a consultant from the Design Council
* An optician and orthoscopics researcher
They provide diverse views about the effects of wall displays on learning. Seating arrangements receive less attention, but a helpful solution is offered by Tim Benson, the primary school headteacher.
The video aims to address some of the contrasting and confusing views about an appropriate classroom environment. Although there are essentially two strands to the question, the wider emphasis is on wall displays and creating an environment that is conducive to learning.
The viewer is taken on tours of the primary school and the Community and Technology School and hears interviews with each of the experts.
- Different styles of wall displays are evident in the primary school. Some are created and managed by the children themselves. Others are used to stimulate interest in a topic or as a reference point. In addition, the headteacher suggests having ‘flexible grouping’ to avoid disruptive behaviour and for shy children to be integrated with more vocal members of the class.
- Supported by the Design Council Campaign ‘The Learning Environment’, staff consulted pupils at the Community and Technology School and discovered that displays were a major distraction. Consequently, a minimalist approach has now been taken and classroom walls are kept plain and bare. Consideration is also given to aspects of the environment, that might improve concentration, such as temperature, lighting and air quality. The executive headteacher states that because it is “ordered” the environment “helps them (the pupils) to be ordered themselves and focuses them”.
- The interview with Ian Jordan, an orthoscopic researcher, revealed that there is not an ideal classroom design for all children. Most children respond well to visual stimulation, whilst children with Special Needs require a calm environment that does not over-stimulate them. His key recommendation for classroom organisation is that all children should be able to see the teacher.
At the end of the programme, the NQT decides that the advice suggests it is worth using different styles for different purposes.
What Do You Think?
I recently asked this same question in my classroom displays course and the group came up with some interesting answers of their own: