Tag: classroom design

Student Voice: Taking Interest so We Can Facilitate Action

Student Voice: Taking Interest so We Can Facilitate Action

As we begin to reflect on community spaces,  we did a deep dive into our community space of our classroom. In one of my previous posts, A Journey Into Design Thinking To Tackle Classroom Challenges, I confessed that I needed to go back to the “drawing board” and collect more ideas from the students so I can transform the challenge of”managing them” and more on empowering them with our learning environment. This is definitely a shift from my former thinking as a classroom teacher as I work on developing my student-centered learning environment and an “innovator’s mindset”.

Innovation starts not by providing answers but by asking questions.

-George Curous- #Innovator’s Mindset

So, I created a provocation with a Google Slide presentation of different interesting classroom spaces that I found from the internet and also included some environments from our own school. Then I asked the students to draw sketches of what they thought our learning space should look like. Yes, there were some students who wanted to put in a nerf gun obstacle course and jumping castle inside our classroom–they are 1st graders with lovely imaginations– but through questioning and dialogue, I was able to determine what elements of the learning space were important to them. I was also able to get some formative assessement of what their understanding of our central idea is, Community spaces provide opportunities to connect, as it related to our community of learning.

It was delightful to discuss with them what they felt we needed for our learning spaces and why they personally needed them. Some of the conversations made me laugh, others surprised me with their insight and awareness, while others made me feel a bit disappointed. Here are some of the ideas that came up during my interviews:

  • Have a space for relaxation so that students should take a rest. (3 votes for hammocks!)
  • Big whiteboards that we (the students) can write on.
  • Have our ‘own space’ and an ‘everyone space’
  • A place for some free choice.
  • We can eat inside the classroom.
  • A space just for computers.
  • A ‘mini’ makerspace.
  • More artwork displayed in our class.
  • Students should teach more.
  • A tent as a meeting area.
  • Pleasant smelling flowers. Plants in the room.

As I reflect on these conversations,  two things stood out to me: firstly, a desire to be trusted and given “space”, and how their ideas closely mirrored the elements of a learning space that are suggested from The Space: A Guide for Educators: spaces for collaboration, creation, showcasing learning, and quiet.

Image from the book: The Space: A Guide for Educators 

So as we move forward on this journey, I really want to facilitate students’ initiative to take ownership of their learning space and cultivate their interest in co-designing it. As I tune into their ideas, I will continue to collect data from them, finding out what’s essential for them to feel comfortable and confident. While this is just a beginning, there is something that is exciting about making changes to our classrooms, especially as I think about the cultural shift that is occurring through this process. I feel hopeful that when our students really feel listened to and their ideas valued, becoming more responsible for the classroom and our learning community is a natural outcome and not something that must be “taught” or “managed”.  I believe that when we, as teachers, show through our actions and words that we trust students, they rise to the challenge and have a desire to be co-designers and collaborators in their own learning.

What experience do you have with this? I’d love to hear your ideas and gain your insights! Please make a comment.

 

Shifting the Classroom

Shifting the Classroom

The Creature in the Classroom

It appeared inside our classroom

at a quarter after ten,

it gobbled up the blackboard,

three erasers and a pen.

It gobbled teacher’s apple

and it bopped her with the core.

“How dare you!” she responded.

“You must leave us . . . there’s the door.”

The Creature didn’t listen but described an arabesque as it gobbled all her pencils, seven notebooks and her desk.

Teacher stated very calmly, “Sir! You simply cannot stay,

I’ll report you to the principal

unless you go away!”

But the thing continued eating,

it ate paper, swallowed ink,

as it gobbled up our homework

I believe I saw it wink.

Teacher finally lost her temper.

“OUT!” she shouted at the creature.

The creature hopped beside her

and GLOPP . . . it gobbled teacher.

When I think about how much education has been transformed in the last decade,  I find this poem a bit ironic and have to wonder if the poet knew what was in store for  today’s classroom when he wrote that. Did he know how technology would “gobble” up paper and ink–even to some extent the teacher?
 However, there’s no doubt that our classrooms have become more student-orientated rather than teacher-centered. And I was reminded lately  during an IB webinar, Creating Inspiring Places, that our classrooms need to be designed for learning rather than merely being decorated. With that in mind, I loved this infographic that I snagged from the presentation.

todays-classroom

While looking at this, I asked myself what do I do well and what do I need to work on more this year in my own classroom? I’m feeling lucky that I have a long holiday week nearing the corner so I can sit down and take this all in more so. And what can I share with teachers? What would inspire their learning spaces?-What needs to be “gobbled up” in our school so that our “creatures” get the best education that they deserve? Hmm…

What about you?–What do you think needs to be “gobbled up” in your classroom?

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Judy Imamudeen

Judy Imamudeen

Developing learners as leaders is my joy! As a highly qualified International Baccaluearate (IB) teacher and educational leader, I am committed and passionate about executing its framework and empowering students in creating a future world that works for everyone.

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