Who owns your classroom walls?

When I was given the keys to my first Humanities classroom 15 years ago, I owned the walls.

I even brought my mom in to decorate.

We brought fabric from the store and outlined whiteboards; laminated and enlarged photos of past civilisations to plaster onto side walls; printed and pinned classroom expectations to bulletin boards; spread out colourful timelines of human history on the back wall.

And while the walls looked nice, by the time students arrived on Day One, there was barely an inch of space for THEM.

Contrast my teacher-centered walls to the student-centered walls you see pictured above. Spread across the walls of High Tech Middle School are student murals, framed poetry, forces in motion (bike tires), photographs of landscapes, documentaries that run on a loop, and other beautiful student work. Beyond the beauty and wonder this work evokes, is the clear message it sends to students: YOU OWN THESE WALLS.

Students want to do great work because they know it will be valued and showcased.

How might you provide students more ownership of what’s displayed on your walls? Here are 5 quick tips:

  1. Create a Dedicated Display Area: Designate a specific space in your classroom for displaying student work. This could be a bulletin board, a section of a wall, or even a clothesline with clips. Make sure it’s easily visible and accessible to students, teachers, and visitors.
  2. Rotate Displays Regularly: Keep the displays fresh and dynamic by rotating the showcased work regularly. This allows you to feature a variety of student achievements, ensuring that all students have the opportunity to see their work displayed over time.
  3. Celebrate Diversity: Showcase a diverse range of student work to celebrate individuality and foster inclusivity. Include different types of assignments, projects, and creative expressions to reflect the diverse talents and interests of your students.
  4. Provide Context: Accompany each displayed piece with context or explanation to help viewers understand the significance of the work. Include captions, labels, or brief descriptions that highlight the learning objectives, skills demonstrated, or the creative process behind the work.
  5. Encourage Reflection and Feedback: Encourage students to reflect on their own work and provide constructive feedback to their peers. Consider incorporating reflection prompts or feedback forms near the display area to promote self-assessment and peer collaboration.

‘Where is the Teacher?’ 12 Shifts for Student-Centered Environments

Shifting from teacher-owned to student-centered wall space is just one of 12 key shifts for student-centered environments featured in my new book coming in August!

Through inspiring stories, concrete strategies, and ready to use resources, you will be empowered to make each shift and transform your classroom.

Join several other aspiring student-centered practitioners and pre-order your copy here:


Here’s to sharing wall space with our learners!