My good friend and fellow professional Janeen Bailey totally transformed her classroom this week. One of the questions I ask of educators and personal friends is this: What is the first thing you see when you walk into an elementary classroom... when everyone has gone home? Pause.
Desks. While we talk about the death of the desk, the importance of 21st century learning skills, how flexible learning spaces promote learning, teacher centered vs. student-centered classrooms (and the list goes on), I feel it's fair to say that desks are still the main focal point in today's classroom. While this might not present a problem for some, Janeen and I decided to try something different with what we had available to us. Nothing fancy. No bond needed.
First, we talked about the importance of a 'home base' - a place students could go and feel it was their 'own' space. This isn't important for all students but I know I like to have a 'base', somewhere I can keep my 'stuff' and go to if I feel like it.
We talked about creating a central space that did not consist of desks.
We talked about different seating types.
Different desk types.
And today, I walked in to Janeen's room and saw this.
Yes, there are desks. But they aren't in the center of the room looking important.
I urge you all to think about your student desks/tables. Where are they and what message does that send? If you are comfortable with the answer then change nothing. If you are not, talk to Janeen or me. We might have some ideas for you.