This post originally appeared on the blog Middle School Mob

Setting up a classroom is fun – getting ready for the promise of a new year. But whether you go for the all-out look of a new theme with lots of new decorations brought from home, or whether you go for a the more basic, functional look, what really makes a classroom come alive is when you personalize it with little touches representing each individual kid.
 
It doesn’t have to be anything fancy; just small elements spaced around the room that refer specifically to this year’s kids can make all the difference in providing a room where kids feel at home and take ownership of the space. 
 
Here are a few favorites that I’ve seen many teachers use:
 
Banners or Pennants
I like the long skinny triangular ones that look like old college pennants. The kids can each choose a pennant (construction paper) in their favorite color, add a “logo” that they design for themselves, and add their name (in their choice of fancy lettering). If they have trouble coming up with a logo, show the class some examples such as logos from pro sports and nearby school teams.
 
Team Names and Logos
If you’re starting the year with groups, for their first assignment have each group come up with a team name and then design a team logo or choose a mascot. The team names and logos can be used on charts about group assignments and group progress throughout the year.
 
Student Work Display
Classrooms have included a bulletin board displaying good student work forever, and for good reason. Not only does it recognize students as they do well on specific areas, but it also provides good examples for the other students in the class.
 
Brag Tag Display
Brag tags work best when classmates see them. So a wall display where each kid can hang their collection of tags is not only a handy organizational tool, but also a positive motivator.
 
Chores Chart
We mostly think of a chores chart as purely functional, but some chores are especially popular, and seeing their name posted next to a coveted position can be rewarding for many kids.
 
Ongoing Contest
If you’re using any kind of reward system, such as awarding points or tickets that students save to spend on a prize or to enter in a drawing, post it on the wall too! Add some positive language and imagery to make the contest appealing.
 
Photos
If you have time to take a snapshot of each kid at the beginning of the year, kids will love looking at the pictures of their friends, and themselves. And the display of photos will be a nice touch for parents when they come in for visits too!
 
As the year progresses, photos of individual kids and groups at work on class projects are great to post too.
 
Door Decoration
Some schools do lots of door decorating and others don’t. But if door decorations are a thing at your school, who not make one featuring the kids who study behind that door! Team names, logos, photos – all can work here too. Or maybe have your kids come up with a class slogan for everyone to see.
 
For more about personalizing a classroom space, check out this blog post with more ideas especially for the language arts and reading teachers:
 
 
 
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Just small elements placed around the classroom that refer specifically to each student can help kids feel at home and really take ownership of their space. Sharon, from the Classroom in the Middle blog, has taught English, reading, and a few other subjects to middle school students, mainly sixth graders, for over 20 years. She loves writing and designing resources for teachers – especially materials that help kids improve their reading, vocabulary, and writing skills  – as well as blogging about Language Arts and about teaching in the unique environment that is the middle grades. You can find more from Classroom in the Middle at Sharon’s TpT Store and on her Facebook Page.