A lot of time and effort was put into class design this year. I visited other classes, researched papers, discussed with peers and parents and I think that for the beginning of school year Room 6 was an exciting place to be. The week before school began I posted my journey so far on this blog and Tweeted it out for comments and suggestions. All were positive and helpful; I had comments from teachers with links to their journey, was sent articles from journals and newspapers on the subject to help with my ideas and even had comments from designers with an interest in education. In a day the posting went around the world several times and I was sure that I had all bases covered.
I had spent so much time setting it out mentally and physically that when the parents and students arrived on the first day I was just so excited to explain and have them explore and test and trial and critique my design and when they arrived they did…
Parents thought that it was fantastic and that the idea of their children getting to work out what type of environment suits their learning best was nothing but a positive. Strangely, most parents wanted their child to either work next to their BFF or in a cave, where there was no distractions from the other ‘noisy’ children. I think that this could be a separate posting by itself.
Many of my past students were very excited in the furniture and design, but what I had not taken into account was the excitement than many of the younger children place on moving up to where you have your own desk with a space inside that is just for you. Initially having a tote tray for your belongings (book, hat and pencil case) and baskets to keep all of your subject books in was not acceptable in the eyes of the Year 3 students. It was if they felt slighted by me trying to be innovative and attentive to their learning needs.
At the end of day one I looked at the way the class had been used for the day and saw that 75% had claimed a space of their own and marked it with drink bottles, stationary and clothing. The other 25% loved it and were trying anywhere and everywhere that they could find a space to work. It was quite disheartening but I knew that it was early days.
The next day I removed a few of the desks and added a standing table and began to scaffold the students understanding of the different learning spaces, as I realised that what was missing was the understanding of how they worked. We spent the day working in different places, moving around, reflecting on the work output in regards to quality and creativity and the on-task nature of each student in each space. The next day it had swapped and only 25% were sticking to the same spot.
Now a week and a half later the design is working and the class is humming. A few of the boys have found it so successful working in a cave type environment that they do not want to leave and we have had a lot of reflective circles at the end of the day discussing how we need to learn to work in all environments. The research and preparation is paying off so far although the journey is still in its early days.
Next steps are getting the kids to identify what spaces work for what type of learning and to get some of the learning language being developed around their environment. Additionally, I would like the class to take control of the design spaces and where they are set up, but that will not be untill later in the year.