At the beginning of the school year, I asked students to help me design the ideal classroom. It didn’t work, as evidenced by the fact that we never adopted a class pet, which was one of the seniors’ suggestions. In retrospect, that fail (First Attempt in Learning, in modern teacher-speak) wasn’t surprising; after all, the students didn’t know what we actually were going to do in the room.
With a semester under our belts (does that idiom mean that we ate the semester?), we have a clearer sense of how we do what we do, or at least the awareness that we’re not in Kansas anymore, if our metaphorical Kansas is a classroom where the teacher teaches and the students show that they know what the teacher taught. Our classroom should be a place focused on learners learning, not a teacher teaching, and that means it should be flexible enough to allow individual learners to pursue their paths to acquiring the skills and knowledge necessary to achieve their goals.
I asked my seniors to help me create spaces dedicated to the following purposes:
- individual writing
- accessing enrichment sources
- small group discussion
- using digital technology for learning
Given that two senior classes are participating in the redesign, we’re using a bicameral approach (though neither class wants to have to be the House of Representatives) to negotiate the arrangement that best balances individual interest with our collective objectives. As the room takes shape, future posts will tour the different sections and address how each is designed to meet students’ needs.