Let’s see what happened . . .
First of all, I needed to have a vision, a plan, a “why”. Last school year, I embraced voice, choice, and collaboration. That’s my “why”. I wanted to create collaborative work stations. You see, providing students options of where to sit lowers their affective filters, shows respect, and provides students a bit of autonomy. I heard this saying recently, “Maslow before Blooms.” Flexible seating taps into Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs which opens the doors for the application of Bloom’s Taxonomy.
The one item that I knew for sure that I wanted was a wooden table. I found the perfect one at IKEA. It’s a pine table with a fold out wing and two wooden benches. I fell in love with it immediately when I went shopping. The table was just under $200 and the two benches were $89 each. (These items are grant items.) My husband put a varnish on it to seal the wood. When he did, the beautiful markings of the pine appeared. The addition of plastic place-mats from Target completed the look. I want students to use the mats when they bring their devices over to the table for Station Rotation.
Flanking the sides of my projector screen are sets of small tables and chairs. On most days, students work on their chromebooks, group projects, and math activities with a partner or in groups. These small tables will be a perfect option. The table and chair sets were $60 from IKEA. (Grant items) Again, the pop of color from the place-mats are both cheerful and functional.
Last year, my students and I painted four wooden stools. They are prized possessions in class. Since the stools are mobile, they make their way all around the room. Another popular use of the stools is as portable tables. Students will sit on a small stool and use the large stool as a work surface. On most days, students will pull the stools up to my work station to be closer to the instruction.
During the summer, I like to do crafts. This summer I decided to repurpose a table. My husband and I went to the Salvation Army and upon entering found the perfect table for $20. Oooh, the things I could do!!! With a little paint, a stencil, and lots of love, the La Princessa table took shape. Originally I was going to use it as my teacher table, but when I put it in place I wasn’t feeling it. Honestly, the table could not be seen under the ELMO, projector, and other supplies. I decided to move it to the perimeter. Several students can comfortably work at the table.
Another summer project was painting two podiums. I already had one podium. I knew there was another one in a storage closet so I had a janitor dig it out for me. I decided to coordinate the colors of the podiums so that they would be a set. With the addition of some growth mindset statements, I hope the podiums will be a hit. Students will use them as standings desks. The back of my room has a strip of tile where students can roll the podium to work with their group or even on their own.
I have two other work-station options for students. One is the office. My teaching partner and I have an adjoining office between our rooms. It’s set up with two tables with chairs and a large rug. Students love to work in the office. This is the one place that has to be earned. In order to work in the office, students have to show consistent ability to stay on task and work collaboratively with their peers, since there is less teacher supervision. Two other rules with the office is that it’s either all boys or all girls and that the door must be kept open. (I sound like a parent.)
The final place students may work in outside. Last year, I bought a bistro table and chairs. It sits right outside our office window. It’s the perfect place to have a relaxed conversations with classmates and get a dose of fresh air.
I had so much fun with the #StarbucksMyRoom challenge. And I have a few people to thank. First of all, I’d like to thank Oskar, Stephanie, Alana and all the amazing teachers on Twitter that inspired me to embrace flexible seating. This year was the perimeter. We’ll have to see what next year has in store. I’d also like to thank the El Centro Education Foundation for sponsoring the grant. Thank you for making it possible for teachers to meet the needs of students in creative ways. A sincere thanks also to Steve and John, my fantastic janitors, that built the tables together after hours. And to my loving husband, for driving me to the San Diego IKEA, encouraging me during my painting sprees, and putting the varnish on the pine table.
The challenge was a lot of fun. As I start the year, I’m going to be intentional about creating experiences that involve voice, choice, and collaboration. I’m eager to see my 6th graders interact with their peers in meaningful learning. I hope they like the space as much as I do.
Sooo . . . who’s next?
Marilyn . . .
Take a peek inside.