InspirED: Classroom Refrigerator Strategy

The beginning of a new school year is not only a time for students to return to their studies but also brings an opportunity to build a classroom community that can have a profound impact on those children. Teachers who foster opportunities for connectedness, contribution, and engagement can set the tone for a successful year. One of our favorite strategies for supporting the classroom community is the Classroom Refrigerator strategy and resource. We love the nostalgia, flexibility, and overall vibes this simple but mighty strategy can offer.

Imagine your current or childhood refrigerator at home adorned thoughtfully with family photos, drawings, magnets, and other mementos—a collection of memories that signify togetherness and shared experiences. Translating this concept to the classroom brings the same opportunity to document and reflect on the journey of the school year.

In September, you can implement the Classroom Refrigerator strategy by designating a bulletin board, the back of a door or closet, or a wall space as the “Classroom Refrigerator.” Here, students can display personal photos, artwork, and items that hold significance to them. This promotes student ownership and provides a window into their lives outside of school (for both you and each other!).

During the first days of school, explain the concept and emphasize the idea that just like a home refrigerator, the Classroom Refrigerator will serve as a space for them to share and celebrate their identities, interests, and experiences. But be prepared, this is also your chance to lead by example, educator! Begin by sharing a few of your own personal items to add to the fridge. This will encourage students to brainstorm items or photos they can add to the board. As an alternative or bonus, you can also invite parents to bring in a photo or memento for the board at Back-to-School Night or conferences. Think of how joyful your students will be when they see the memory their parents have added for them. Think of how wonderful it will be to meet someone or begin a conversation by talking about a happy memory. You can make the parents’ addition to the fridge a surprise for your students OR build anticipation by telling your students to look forward to a treat on the Classroom Refrigerator.

As the year continues, celebrate and discuss the items on the Classroom Refrigerator. This can be done during class meetings or dedicated sharing sessions. Encourage students to talk about the stories behind their contributions in order to create connection among classmates. You can also plan to rotate in new photos or items to give the board a more dynamic feel.

In addition to the Classroom Refrigerator strategy, the physical environment of the classroom plays a pivotal role in shaping the classroom community. Purposeful decor can have a positive impact on students’ emotions and comfort levels. For instance, choose a theme that reflects inclusivity, diversity, and positivity. Additionally, pin projects to the fridge that showcase the products of collaboration. A strategy like the Classroom Fridge can greatly contribute to an atmosphere where students thrive academically and emotionally, setting a positive tone for the entire school year.