“Our next solution makers won’t be cultivated in desks and rows.”
–The Space: A Guide for Educators
On our first day of in-service, our principal shared a tidbit about how some of the most competitive jobs today weren’t even created yet ten years ago. As we reflected on what we were teaching our students as we try to prepare them for their futures, it was a unique feeling realizing that their future careers may not be in existence yet either. As the conversations came to a close, the importance of the 21st Century Skills seemed more evident than ever.
For the past three years, hours and hours were spent rearranging twenty-four individual desks and chairs around a classroom that was more realistically built for eighteen. Our kidney table had to be placed somewhere, floor space needed to be saved for our morning meetings, and we still had to be able to maneuver between these spaces when bodies finally filled the seats further cramping our walking spaces. Seating charts were then mindfully crafted to find the proper balance between promoting collaboration and still making sure extraneous socializing didn’t take away from the task at hand.
Enter “One (BIG) New Thing” for the 2017-2018 school year–flexible seating. After quite a bit of hesitation on my end, but just enough prodding by some colleagues, nights were spent assembling crate seats, bargain hunting at thrift shops, and creating projects on Donors Choose to provide our classroom with some new seating options.
Kayla Delzer was a rockstar resource to refer back to while we began the transition. The drive to create an atmosphere comparable to a “Starbucks Classroom” was a unique perspective to take as the redesign started to move forward.
As our classroom started to take shape, it became really easy to get caught up in some amazing classrooms that featured a lot of “bright lights and shiny things” and we had to make sure we were being intentional with what was coming into our classroom. If justification started with, “It looks cool…” or “I wish we had…” odds were that it wasn’t going to be a high priority on our list of things to purchase.
Some leisurely summer reading started to come together to complement each other in the perfect #booksmash for the start of our school year. While searching for new tools from The Google Infused Classroom by Holly Clark and Tanya Avrith to help our students “make thinking visible,” The Space: A Guide for Educators by Rebecca Louise Hare and Dr. Robert Dillon seemed to marry the same concept, but with classroom design as the medium, rather than technology. Providing learning spaces that promoted collaboration and also a medium that would allow students to make their thinking visible was the final piece to tie our room together.
The start to this school year has been entirely different due to our flexible seating, however it has been so amazing to watch our students manage their own learning habits and decide on what type of learning environment would best suit their current task at hand. It has certainly been uncomfortable to dive into something so different from “how I’ve always done it” but I am so grateful to have colleagues that push me to try new things and a PLN to lean on for support. Watching these students flourish in this environment to start our year has been so gratifying and I can’t wait to see how the #BestYearYet continues to unfold!
Have your very own #BookSmash for the #BestYearYet and get your own copies from EdTechTeam Press!