Thursday, March 5, 2015

What's your idea of a new learning space? #YourEduStory

Learning spaces need to be flexible. In reading blogs of teachings going back to the classroom to be students for a day, or more, my belief is cemented. As teachers, we get irritated at professional development because, most of the time, we just sit. And, when we are called to do a task, we don't want to because we are trained to be passive. The thought of doing something is almost revolting. Except....when we do actually take that plunge and become active, it changes. We change. And, guess what? Our students are the same way.

A learning space must coax learners to be active. Every day at about 2:00PM, I hit it - the afternoon plunge into slumber. Our students hit it too. I had a class one year that I asked to do jumping jacks every 15 minutes because they also fell victim to this slumber attack. Looking back at that classroom, it was collaborative in that I had the class positioned in tables. I changed up the layout of my room often. However, I can say it was still a classroom that did not call learners to be active. There was not a space for students to be independent - to be different.

Oftentimes, we, as teachers, try to differentiate learning by giving students options. And, that is a step. However, we can differentiate further by adjusting our learning spaces. Recently, I walked into a classroom. Some students were sitting on medicine-like balls. Others were sitting on a carpet space. One was sitting in a desk. Another group was sitting in the corner in stools. Everyone had their space. Everyone had their tool. The class was not working on the same thing. In fact, within a group, there were a variety of different tasks being completed. The end goal was the same, though. They were working to create a better school-wide recycling program.

Does this teacher's method require a lot of planning? Yes. Does it require a lot of management? Yes - initially. When I entered the classroom, however, students were managing themselves. The teacher was assisting students as they needed help. And, that's the beauty of designing a classroom that promotes active learners.

What are some steps to get your classroom more active?

  • Mix up your furniture.
  • Teach around big concepts. Let the students find their niche within that concept.
  • Encourage creativity & cultivate that.
  • Don't worry about the device. Allow for student choice. You don't need a class set. You really don't.
  • Be passionate. It goes a long way. 

Think about what makes you most creative. Think about what makes your peers most creative and design to that. I feel most creative in either silence or music of my choice.  I like to be where there are windows. I like to be alone. Some of my friends like to be surrounded by others in a loud space. Others feel most creative in an organized environment. Design based upon creativity.

What makes you feel most creative? What makes your students feel creative?

1 comment:

  1. Nice post Christy! I especially like your points about flexibility and choice. And yes, I've felt the same way about staff development.