10 Things You Shouldn’t Have in Your Classroom

November 28, 2023

Amy Vaughan-Roland, Ed.D.

Ed.D. in Leadership

Social media influencers have endless suggestions for classroom “must-haves” and education hacks, but you won’t find any of that here. Consider this a de-influence post of the top 10 things I don’t have and won’t do in my classroom!

  1. Individual Supplies

Like the Thanksgiving dinner table, everything is served family-style. Each table group has their own supply bin that contains only the items needed for the day’s lesson. It takes planning to prep the bins, but everyone has exactly what they need. This also prevents SOMD (supplies of mass distraction) and the perpetually underprepared.

  1. Pre-Made Bulletin Boards

Each unit starts with a blank bulletin board and topic label. As we progress, we make anchor charts together and add those to the board. I include exemplary student work, pictures of us completing experiments together and a vocabulary wall. Not only does it make the bulletin board more meaningful, but my students actually use it as a reference instead of just fluffy classroom décor.

  1. Valuable Items

While I love my classroom space, and I have it decorated to be inviting and welcoming, there isn’t a single thing in it that I would cry over should it get broken, stolen or wrecked. All my décor is from Goodwill or the back storage room. Sometimes our classrooms can be a place where students work out their big feelings. Helping kids regulate their systems should always be the top priority, not the stuff that can be replaced.

  1. Pencil Policy

I don’t care what students write with. I once accepted an assignment written in eye liner. Even adults have certain writing implements that are their go-to favorites. I am a Flair Pen girl with no shame! Let’s give our kids the same autonomy. What if they make a mistake? I’ve found that students plan their work out better because they know they only get one shot, and I keep a few extra worksheets if they need to start again.

  1. Family Pictures

It’s unpopular, but you won’t see my own kids’ faces on my desk. Boundaries are a good thing, and if I choose to let you into my personal affairs then I will, but just because you’re in my classroom doesn’t mean you get access to the person I am outside of the classroom.

  1. Lights

The overhead lights in my room are rarely on! We use the windows and sometimes on super cloudy days we might use half lights.

  1. Assigned Seats

My class is a special area, and I have an open seating policy. I set up the chairs into the group setting I want for the lesson, and the only direction for students when they come in is to find a green chair! A little choice in their day goes a long way.

  1. Floor Rugs

You’re just one dog poop shoe away from a bad day! Items that can be easily removed and cleaned are the way to go. Those floor rugs turn into their own ecosystem by January, and I want to be able to Lysol everything.

  1. Shoes

I wear house slippers in my classroom when I’m teaching. As an ecology teacher, my boots are often muddy, and I’m not about to track mud through my room.

  1. Silence

There’s going to be music. Sometimes it’s Taylor Swift, sometimes it’s ambient jazz playing in the background. It’s rare for my students to work in silence. Greenhouse Karaoke was all the rage this spring and will be returning in 2024!

Take time to reflect on your own classroom. Don’t let anyone tell you what you need in your space! Your classroom doesn’t need to look like a Pinterest board. It’s the relationships between you and your students that really matter and utilizing your own systems and materials to support that should be the top priority.

Learn more ways you can lead your classroom well with our education programs at American College of Education.

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of American College of Education.
Amy Vaughan-Roland, Ed.D.
Amy Vaughan-Roland, Ed.D., Ed.D. in Leadership

Amy has a strong passion for educating all learners and has over 12 years of experience in special education. She works on her family's dairy farm and is currently a doctoral candidate.

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