"This study analysis the students' understanding of the positive and negative aspects of a boarding school based on pictures taken by themselves. The pictures and their interpretations by the students allowed the elaboration of an affective cartography of the places valued positively and negatively by them. The concepts of "corner", "stain", "trajectory" and "porch" were used as analytical referential. It is concluded that there is a space appropriated by the students, which is different from the established by the boarding school. Positive contexts tend to grant opportunities for the development of competences, providing stimulating conditions of engagement and self-efficacy to the students, while negative contexts evoke negative approaching processes with people, things and symbols, which hinder reciprocity and engagement. It is suggested that in the negative sectors there are opportunities for policies aiming at integrating, sharing, and democratizing the management of aspects of the boarding school with the students. "