Sunday, 26 January 2014

Sit Wherever You Like... and Other Room 132 Anomalies

     This week I was responsible for distributing and collecting surveys from all of the teachers in our school regarding our PD wants/needs. As such, on Thursday during my prep, I visited each classroom in our school to ensure I had everyone's surveys... and I noticed something interesting.

     I am the ONLY teacher from Grade 8 to Grade 12 that does NOT have my student's desks in rows facing the "front" of the room. In fact, I am only teacher that does not have their desk as the focal point of the room! I am also the only teacher out of this group that has additional furniture in my room:

bringing in additional furniture to the classroom, couches in class
Our classroom "chill-out" space
     After I returned to my classroom, I began thinking of how my classroom differed from those of my colleagues. In addition to the furniture layout, my room also features:
- A student work station with a computer that can hook up to our
  room's SMART Board (no other high school classes have student
  computers in the room except our science lab)
- A microwave for students to heat up snacks (or for me to heat up
  the numerous coffees/teas I consume during the day)!
- A "charging station" for students to charge their devices throughout
  the day.
     In fact, if you visited my classroom you might see:
- Students sitting wherever they like during lessons (at a desk, at the
  "chill-out" space with a clipboard, at my desk, etc)
- Free-reign of device use (I would rather teach appropriate and
  responsible device use rather than ban them). **I do however,
  ask students to set their devices aside during important lessons
  or if their peers are presenting.
- Students with their head-phones in, oblivious to the world around
  them, but diligently completing their work.
- Students taking pictures or their work and blogging about it.
21st century classroom, student centered classroom, what does a student centered classroom look like
IAP mechanics review 02. (2009). Uploaded to Flickr by CPS Photo Library. Available online at:
     Why does my classroom function this way?
- I want our learning to be as student-centered as possible. I want
  students to be able to interact with their peers, collaborate on a
  project, and share their learning with others.
- I want students to be comfortable. I want them to be able to feel
  at home; like they belong to our classroom community. If they need
  to relax and curl up on the couch, do it. If they want to heat up food
  and have a snack, do it.
- I want them to use tools that they find useful and meaningful to them.
  I encourage device use in the classroom and recognize that students
  are going to be using them regardless of whether I encourage it or not;
  why not integrate them instead of banning them?
- I want to extend our learning beyond our classroom. I want students
  to think critically about their learning, share their ideas with the world,
  search for information that I can't provide, and explore their interests.


  1. Thanks for sharing about your classroom set up - it is a good example of where we should head IMHO :-) It is easier to learn if you are comfortable. Can't wait until you share your year with us this week!

    1. You're welcome, to be honest, I didn't notice the difference between my room and my colleagues until this week.

      It is important to note that they are also ALL doing amazing things in their rooms as well ( we are all just doing it in our own ways).

      I completely agree about the comfort thing, which is probably why I loved the ed building so much (it had coffee, couches, and awesome people)! Looking forward to "visiting" this week :)

  2. When I taught ESL Read 180, my biggest class was like 9 students. As such, we did 99% of our lessons on the couches and pillows in the library section of the classroom. I had the same students in different classrooms and could definitely see a difference when they were comfortable and relaxed. I wish it were feasible for me to do this with a class of 32 as well!

    1. That sounds SO comfy and wonderful! My smallest class is 16 and my largest is 26. While I know these are a lot smaller than a lot of other schools I sometimes still wish they were even smaller so I could have more one on one and be able to all fit on the couches!

  3. I love this - I bet you're creating a fantastic learning culture in your room! The band room in my high school used to have microwaves and couches and it was a massively popular place to hang out and added to the feeling of community.

    My eventual goal once I move back to Manitoba and teach band is to create a classroom environment such as this! :)


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