Learning Panel Interview: Meet Design Experts Stephanie & Loreal of @HappilyEverElementary
Feb 22nd 2022
It’s safe to say that Stephanie and Loreal’s design influence reaches beyond their classrooms. The two teachers behind the Instagram account @HappilyEverElementary not only share their favorite education products to over 80,000 followers, but also provide expertise on how to create an optimal learning environment. Learn more about how these influencers impact students’ lives and get tips on how to redecorate your own classroom for the upcoming school year!
Q: How do you define an engaging classroom environment (and physical space)?
A: If a space can promote interest and excitement while also creating an opportunity for students to focus on work and goals, that would be the best definition of an engaging classroom, in our opinion. Engagement has multiple meanings, but an environment where the students take ownership of the physical space and the actions made within it would be the ideal example.
Q: How important is it for you to have a decorated classroom?
A: Very important! However, “decorated” is subjective and can look different in various classrooms. We feel as though a classroom full of intentional décor serves so many purposes. For example, it shows the students and families a certain level of dedication and enthusiasm. This promotes excitement and helps foster trust. We also believe that the classroom designs are the first impression a student has of their school year. Will we play games? What books will I read? Will I make friends? We also love that students take so much pride in the space. Lastly, if you, as a teacher, decorate the room and like how it looks, hopefully that means you will be more comfortable and happy while teaching!
Q: How do you feel classroom décor positively impacts learning environments for students?
A: The décor in a classroom can not only promote creativity and fun, but it can also create a positive culture within the class community. Students can take part in contributing to the space, take ownership, and feel that they are represented within the school. This tells students that they are exactly where they need to be.
Q: Why is it important for teachers to refresh their classroom décor throughout the year?
A: As students learn and grow, the classroom environment should as well. There should be academia, student work, and seasonal materials constantly being updated so the students see the relevance and importance of them. Not to mention, refreshing the classroom décor throughout the year shows the students that these items and furnishings are meaningful and serve a purpose.
Q: How important is curriculum décor in a classroom and what is the best way to use it?
A: Curriculum décor is important to further enforce instruction and to give students necessary references and resources that can help them throughout the day. Making sure that the décor is functional and relevant is important to ensure that the décor remains purposeful.
Q: How did you bring your classroom environment to your students through virtual learning?
A: During distance learning, we provided a sense of classroom environment in two ways. The first was in our online virtual classroom, which consisted of a bitmoji classroom and a classroom homepage on Canvas. The second was the instructional spaces within our homes that served as our backgrounds while teaching over Google Meet. We made bitmoji classrooms that looked like our own classrooms at school and tried to add personal touches to help the students feel more connected. In our homes we hung wallpaper, banners, academic anchor charts, and holiday décor. This way when our classes met with us on Google Meet, it might feel more like school to them.
Q: How can décor be used at home for learning spaces (hybrid learning, place to do homework, etc.)?
A: Designating areas in a home for learning, whether it be virtual, hybrid, or even just for homework, is extremely beneficial for students. Using décor to decorate their learning space will make it more fun and enjoyable for the students. If students have pride in their space and are happy, they are more likely to be focused, motivated, and dedicated to the task at hand. Décor could include posters, charts, hands-on materials for learning, flexible seating options, various lighting options, or helpful technology.
Q: What/who inspired you to become a teacher/educator?
A: Loreal has the teaching profession deeply rooted in her family. Her mom and sister are also teachers in our tight knit community, and she grew up knowing that she wanted to be a teacher. Loreal met Stephanie early on in college and convinced her to switch majors to Elementary Education. Stephanie fell more and more in love with teaching as time went on.
Q: What do you love most about teaching?
A: We both love making an impact on children for the better. For some students, we better their lives by helping them to read fluently or add double digit numbers. For other students we help them by encouraging them to try again or by teaching them how to be a good friend. Whether it is life skills or common core standards we are teaching, we get to leave a tiny mark on the lives of many,
Q: What was your favorite subject to learn growing up?
A: We are math lovers. We are problem solvers at our core and enjoy having an arsenal of strategies to help lead us to an answer.
Q: What is your favorite Carson Dellosa Education resource?
A: We are falling deeply in love with the Kind Vibes décor line. We managed to get our hands on most of the products, and the vibrant colors put an instant smile on our faces. We could think of a million different ways to use those resources!
Q: What are your three favorite CDE resources (currently available) and why?
A: We love the file folder games from Carson Dellosa. They are great for kindergarten centers, differentiated small groups in first grade, or can be used for early finishers who have time after completing their classwork. The primary leveled storybooks are also amazing and helpful. We have used these with both our students and our own kids. Great pictures and clear print makes it easy for students to read along. Lastly, the Simply Boho classroom décor line is so beautiful and modern. We love the life the green plants add to a space and know that students will enjoy them too!