Teachers spend more than 1,000 hours a year in their classrooms, so it’s no wonder they want to make them as pleasant and bright as possible. These days, though, more and more teachers are facing the same dilemma: a classroom without windows. “Only two classrooms in my entire school have windows. I feel as if the world could end and we would have no idea,” teacher Kirk H. says. Recently, the members of our WeAreTeachers HELPLINE group chatted about how they survive working in a classroom without windows. Here are their best tips.
Invest in light filters.
Fluorescent lights drive many of us crazy, so try this tip from Wendy W. “There are filters you can put over your fluorescent lights that help lessen the harshness of the lights.” Do a web search for classroom light filters or fluorescent light filters to find options.
Shown above: Cozy Shades Light Filters
Trade fluorescents for floor lamps.
Instead of filters, turn off the overheads and use floor lamps around your room instead. LouAnn F. says, “I use lamps all around my room because the overhead fluorescent lights cause headaches for me and some of my kids. It makes for such a calming atmosphere!” Sarah L. adds, “The floor lamps should be on sale toward the beginning of the school year because kids are going to college.”
Photo credit: Turnstall’s Teaching Tidbits
Hang string lights or pendant lamps.
Kirk H. shared this photo of his classroom without windows and explained, “My room was super dark as it was an old computer lab. I wrote grants [to get funding] and transformed my class into a space I loved.” He hung inexpensive lighting from IKEA to make his space bright and inviting.
Install fake window decals.
Karen B. says, “Amazon has fake window wall stickers starting around 10 bucks. They don’t leave a mark. Just peel [them] off when you need to remove them. I’d get a beach/ocean view!” Christmas C. suggests going even further. “Put curtains on the wall to create the look of a window. Get fake scenes to go behind the curtains to change the scene; one day you guys are at the beach, the next week you’re in the forest. You could really turn it into something fun!”
Shown above: Dopin 3D Beach Seascape, Amazon
Have students draw window art.
“Create a series of fake windows and have the students create places they would like to see outside those windows!” —Michael M.
Photo credit: First Palette
Project some nature.
Use your classroom projector for slideshows of nature scenes or [feeds from] webcams. “I run live cams on my projector,” says Marnie R. Try bird feeder or nest cams or those from zoos or national parks. Here’s a good list.
Photo credit: Sound and Vision
Grow plants—or add artificial ones.
“I found a big fake tree at Goodwill and researched plants that do well in low light,” says Heidi B. Check out this list of low-light plants for ideas. (As an added bonus, these plants are all really hard to kill!)
Photo credit: Reggio Kids
Bring the outside in.
In addition to plants, Heidi B. tries to make the gloomy inside seem more like the sunny outdoors. “I made a big blue wall hanging and used bulletin board paper that looks like blue sky and clouds.” You can even get covers for your fluorescent lights to make them look like skylights. Or step up your game and turn your classroom into a tropical paradise!
Shown above: Skypanels
Use bright colors on your walls.
“I use a lot of visually appealing posters and rotate them frequently,” says Marilyn R. Mary A. adds, “Bright colors. Purposeful decorations … take as much of the concrete dungeon away as you can.” Jo B. agrees: “Lots of student-created work. Let them own the room.” (Check out this roundup of rainbow bulletin boards for inspiration.)
Photo credit: Lessons With Laughter
Keep the air moving.
“Get a fan that will do some serious air movement!” recommends Christine H. “I had a windowless room last year with middle school, and the fan was a life saver!”
Photo credit: Mercury News
Add some fragrance.
Rebecca S. and Ginnie H. love using fragrance diffusers in the classroom. Citrus scents are favorites, and Ginnie likes peppermint, too.
Photo credit: 1000 Petals
Light a salt lamp.
“A salt lamp helped us a lot. A student asked me what it was for, and I explained that some people believed maybe it cleaned the air. The student replied, ‘Well, it definitely helps the ambiance.'” —Adrianne G.
Photo credit: The Salt Lamp Store
Keep an eye on your vitamin D.
Humans get most of their vitamin D from the sun, so a classroom without windows might possibly affect your health. “Make sure you take a vitamin D supplement! Many of the teachers I work with have D deficiencies,” says Irene G. Also consider adding foods rich in vitamin D to your diet. (Be sure to check with your doctor before starting any supplements.)
Photo credit: Be Fit and Fine
Step outside when you can.
Take advantage of any opportunities to take in a little natural daylight throughout the day. Heidi B. says, “I eat lunch in the staff room, so I look out the window and talk to other adults, plus I take a quick walk during prep and right before my lunch period ends. It helps.”
How do you survive in a classroom without windows? Share your best tips in our WeAreTeachers HELPLINE group on Facebook.
Plus, check out our ideas for making over ugly file cabinets.