As I’ve been on Twitter for a year now, one of the most inspiring aspects of it is sharing and encouraging growth in others. I’ve spent hours reading blogs and educational articles. One of the first ones I came across was an Edutopia blog on flexible seating and creating a student-centered classroom by Kayla Delzer. In her blog, she shares how she decided to “ditch desks” and create a 21st century environment that encourages collaboration, communication, creativity, and critical thinking. Kayla did extensive research on the benefits for kids. Besides the obvious, the classroom is more inviting, she found that the classroom redesign also encouraged a mindshift on the part of the teacher. Embracing the new room, teacher’s philosophies also changed. In particular, teachers created a student-led, self-aware, empowered classroom.
Catlin Tucker, a classroom teacher, speaker, and author, has also been a source of inspiration. In her blog “Classroom Furniture: Does it Improve or Impede Learning?” Catlin shares how classroom furniture is generally bought in bulk and has a “ones-size-fits-all mentality.” In that vain, if we are to meet the needs of our 21st century learners, sitting in rows sends the message that the room is designed for students to listen to the teacher. In contrast, if desks and tables formed groupings and students were allowed to choose their prefered seating, what message would that send? The hopes Catlin and I have is one that encourages meaningful group work, building of relationships, and a sense of ownership. This is OUR room!
Finally, Oskar Cymerman put out a challenge to #StarbucksMyRoom. In his blog, he challenged teachers to create a Starbucks like environment. One where seating options were varied and 21st century skills can be mastered. The ultimate challenge is to do the redesign spending zero dollars. I signed up, of course. If I hadn’t already had the idea on my radar, Oskar’s enthusiasm alone would have sold me. The redesign was already on my list for the new year. But how would I get the funding?
Before I forget, here are the links to the blogs mentioned above:
Kayla Delzer @TopDogTeaching
Catlin Tucker @Catlin_Tucker
Oskar Cymerman @Focus2Achieve
I have to say, I love my classroom. It’s always been full of color: bright pink, purple, blue, and green. And for two years now I’ve practiced, and preached, the 4Cs of Common Core. I’ve been intentional about group work, providing choice, student-led presentations, and incorporating elements of the design cycle. All of these involve students moving around the classroom, engaging in discussions, and a lot of trust. Take a look at some of my students hard at work and following my motto, “We can learn and have fun at the same time.”
For now, my plan is to redesign the perimeter of the classroom. If all goes well, then next year I will consider student desks. As with everything, it’s a process. At the end of the day, I want to create a relevant environment that encourages meaningful learning, strengthen relationships between my students and myself, and create confident, independent learners.
So, back to Oskar’s zero dollars from my pocket. I’m applying for a grant from our local El Centro Education Foundation. They’re a generous group that funds innovative academic endeavors. I have my fingers crossed that they’ll embrace flexible seating and the #StarbucksMyRoom as much as the rest of us have.
Time for a mocha,
Marilyn . . .