• Sep 262013

Zen and the Art of Motivating Your School

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It’s always encouraging when people tweet or email pictures or tales of our resources in situ. But, apart from a grateful retweet (which we’re always inclined to do) or set up a “gallery” page (which we’ve never been inclined to do), it’s hard to know what to do with them.

Until now.

Because we can learn a lot from the way people use our resources. This isn’t about brightening up drab corridors. Oh no… This, friends, is about the psychology of display.
Softly, softly, catchy monkey. Here @MrLockyer demonstrates The Subtle Approach. Nine times out of ten, you could walk past this and not notice it. But, like the bear in the Toblerone logo, once you’ve spotted it, you can’t not. Behind this seemingly subtle approach lies weeks of intricate planning. Note how Lockyer has painted both the door and the fence to match the blue of the poster. Dedication.

Here @MrHTabc123 has gone for an elegant look. Tapping into the latest trend in clean, fresh design (and taking advantage of a job lot of white frames), he’s come up with a high-class look that says “We mean business and these ideas are here to stay”. No dog-eared posters in this school.

There is a refined balance here between the negativity of the “DO NOT SAND PLASTIC” sign in the foreground and @KutrahMoore’s Positivity Board behind. Here is a school that takes feng shui seriously in a bid to provide a harmonious learning environment. Note the unfortunate choice of the top-right corner poster for a DT workshop — “Don’t lose your head”.

Equivalent to a party political broadcast, The Shrine is a potent wall-based manifesto. This may look like a teacher covering up the cracks in the wall with as many posters as possible, but in fact it’s a carefully orchestrated piece of political manoeuvring by @ThThThalia. With The Shrine, she has created a powerful statement to hit students right between the eyes every time they go to hang their miniscule coats up on the tiny pegs (see them?!). The polar opposite to Lockyer’s Subtle Approach.

The Shrine is clearly a popular display technique as these photos from @MissKMcD (left) and @IOWHistoryGuy (right) testify.

In this example from @PaulyB37’s school entrance hall, he has prepared a little “welcome” for any government visitors. Note how he has blown up the poster dealing with progress (Initial sentence: “You don’t have to look far inside this school before you see signs of progress…”) and placed it bang-smack-centrally. Complimented by photos of the school’s students, this isn’t a random display thrown up by a novice. This man knows exactly what he’s doing. You are Ofsted. We are a lively-minded school going places. Deal with it.

@OutlawAdamKelly realises that first impressions count. That’s why he sets his stall out before his students open the classroom door. The radiator-as-plant-pot, precariously balanced pots above the door frame and butterflies piling rocks (?!) all form a potent mural metaphor of growth, nurture and… er, rock-piling. Who wouldn’t want to enter a room with such powerful messages outside? “This the sort of thing that goes down in my room, kids. Are you in?“

The William Webb Ellis of the teaching world, @Pekabelo has picked up the ball and run with it once again. Using the phrase “This is not a classroom…” from ‘Messages That Matter’ as a starting point, he has inspired his students to come up with these examples of what’s referred to as “slam poetry”. This is a street term, meaning “poetry” and shows @Pekabelo is certainly down with da yoof. If you have any doubts about this, check out more of his students’ work here — they’ve come up with something very special.

This school doesn’t exist (the clue’s in the poor Photoshopping).


But there’s no reason why it shouldn’t (except, perhaps, for the massive logo on the floor). Massive positive messages covering the walls, reaffirming to students the attitudes and characteristics that reflect the ethos of a sparky school. If your school ethos is about treasuring character, then you’ll be inspired by what we do.

Several schools (and teachers) in the UK, US and Australia have all taken us up on our Everything Pack offer Currently with a free book (see above). These include such wondrous establishments as Passmores Academy (of Educating Essex fame), Canterbury College and The British School of Brussels as well as many more primary/elementary and secondary/high schools. The Everything Pack includes everything you need to pass on messages that really matter to your students… Messages about individuality, empathy, resilience, creativity, friendship and teamwork amongst many others. If you want to join these sparky teachers and schools, just pay a visit to the Everything Pack Offer page and take a look. Then ask your boss whether the video below reflects the sort of things your school stands for… (we’re happy to invoice your school directly, rather than you footing the bill — just let us know). Note that the free book offer only applies for direct purchases via the website at present.

If you think it’s of use, you can download this video here.

It doesn’t matter how you display these messages. Or even whether you put any business our way. What really matters is that these characteristics are cherished in our schools. We hope, despite our silliness above, we’ve emphasised that.

May your displays never fall down.

Spread the word: Share

So, what do you think?

  1. Why have I only just found this site? You reflect everything I believe about teaching. I’m just wishing I’d discovered this earlier. Thank you for confirming what I believe. I absolutely love the advice poem for year 6.

    7:51 pm on September 30th, 2013

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