If you have been a teacher or worked in schools (particularly elementary schools), you know about  door decorating at the beginning of the year. Are we going to be the high-flying fish? Or the Superstars?

Beyond classroom doors and the physical structuring of a building or space to match a particular learning model or idea, we ought to let students and educators personalize their learning spaces. I’m not necessarily talking about creating spaces for personalized learning, rather spaces that are personalized. I’m also not just talking about new furniture. Educators and students alike spend around 40 +/- hours a week in their learning spaces, so why not add personal touches and be inspired by the walls and halls around you?

In touring schools around the country, we have seen it all—from Lego-clad surfaces to beautifully graffitied walls. We’ve also heard a couple of reasons why educators can’t slap on some paint, rearrange a room or add some flare to their spaces. We know at times there are regulations or reasons personalizing a space just isn’t an option, but try to get creative and figure out where and when you can. Consider all spaces a canvas, get creative and call on students to start making their learning space feel connected to who they are.

10 Ways Students and Educators Can Personalize Learning Spaces:

  1. Add Lego boards to walls—even when walking between classes, this can give students the opportunity to creatively impact the space around them and keep their brains engaged
  2. Add chalkboard paint or whiteboard to your walls (Del Lago Academy has a combination of both and students regularly update and add personal touches to these spaces)
  3. Take your murals outside (many schools—such as Da Vinci—have partnered with local muralists to work alongside students in the design stages)
  4. Refresh your ceiling with designs, drawings and lights
  5. Use Classroom Architect or CAD as the basis for a class-wide activity, and have students vote on their favorite student-created ideas
  6. Allow for student graffiti with purpose and a message (be sure to build it into an integrated project or planned work product)
  7. Introduce comfy furniture and rearrange the room
  8. Add wheels to everything so students can personalize a reading nook, learning lab or outdoor space by moving furniture and writing spaces around (see how Albemarle County Public Schools has taken this idea to the next level)
  9. Allow students to pick their own seats. Once students are able to move their desks and tables around, it’s important for them to be able to pick who they’re seated next to for that day’s work
  10. Let students come up with their own way to personalize their learning space!

Check out photos of examples of personalized spaces from schools across the county:

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