This year I am starting at a new school so when I first walked into my classroom I did not know what to expect. I did not know about the size of the room, furniture, technology, resources and more. Needless to say I was ecstatic when I walked in to my room! It was very big and have different types of furniture in additional to tradition classroom desks. I also have a MASSIVE storage closet. I’m not kidding you, I could easily play sardines in my room and hide in the closet. Anyway over the summer I spent a lot of time thinking about how the spaces we are in impact our decisions, how we feel, how we interact with others, and more importantly how we learn. With this in mind I wanted to create a layout in my classroom that would foster collaboration, yet all students a space to their own (introverts unite).
The first thing I realized was that the teacher’s desk/area takes up a large portion of the room. Then I got to thinking about how much of the time that space, aka the teacher’s space, is used. When students are in the room I’m not at my desk and more importantly I shouldn’t be at my desk. What better way to make the room bigger and make sure I’m focused on students than to get rid of my desk!? There will no longer be a temptation to sit down to check or respond to e-mails, enter grades, or other things when I can be actively moving around the room engaging my students. Now I will have a small area for my laptop and document camera, but other than that the space is the students! I did however transform my massive closet into a desk by removing some of the shelving. I’m cheating the “no teacher desk” a bit with the closet, but I believe this is a step in the right direction
If I want students to take control of their learning, what better way that to start with their learning space. I have decided to go out on a limb in the first week of school and give my students a mini-project to design the classroom. This will help the students to use the space that they have and think about what changes they need to make to the space. I believe this will also help students to take control of their learning and the classroom since they will be designing it. I do teach three different classes so all three will need to decide on one design because it is not feasible to change layouts between classes everyday.
My plan is to get the student in to groups within the first day or two and give them the task of designing the classroom. I want to see how they interact and take initiative. I also want my students to realize that they can be creative in their thinking and in my classroom, by setting the tone with this “activity.” The student groups will present their ideas to other groups to get feedback and eventually each group will create a small presentation for voting. The voting will happen electronically and anonymously using Google Forms so that students are not influence by their peers in their decision making. I am very exciting about this idea. I will keep you posted as to whether or not either or my “experiments” are a bust or a bang!
**More pictures and a more detailed post of the experience to come**