This term has seen a major change in the physical environment of my classroom. Inspired by Stephen Heppell, the recent EduTech conference in Brisbane and Sinan Kerimoski from Margaret River P.S., I decided I wanted to create a more flexible learning environment in my class that enabled the students to work more collaboratively together and catered for the various learning styles in my class more.
I wanted to increase the learning opportunities and options available to my students and give them greater control over their learning through a variety of learning modes and interactions, thus providing them with greater choices on where, and with whom, they learn. I also hoped that by giving the students more choices of where and with whom they worked, it would increase student engagement. I wanted the classroom to feel more comfortable for the students and for it to be a place where they wanted to be rather than where they had to be.
In the later part of term two, I spent a lot of time talking to my students about what their ideal classroom would be like. We talked about what they liked and disliked about our current classroom and what we would change if we could. I then asked them to design their ideal classroom.
While some of their ideas were a bit innovative, (I’m not quite sure a rocket ride would fit and a chocolate fountain would be yummy), most of the students were able to contribute some viable ideas. I then asked them to tell me what would they take out of their current class and what would they put in if they could. I collated all their ideas and started making a list. Most students wanted some rugs/ or mats for the floor, a comfortable relaxation area, less traditional desks, more computers, more pillows and a classroom pet. They even wanted a naughty area/chair which is something we didn’t have in our classroom already, (and still don’t!)
I then went and spoke to my principal, who thankfully was very support and encouraged me to pursue these changes. It was time to put some of these ideas into action!
After a few trips to Ikea and many, many hours of my school holidays, I finally transformed our classroom into a more flexible learning environment which was more comfortable for my students. I was also lucky to be able to bring in three computers from home for the students to use.
Below are the results. My only regret is that I didn’t take any before photos!
It was great to see the faces on the students and parents when they walked into our transformed classroom on our first day back in term 3! I was delighted to hear the positive feedback from the parents and students.
This is what some of the students thought of the changes after three weeks;
Tiana – ” I feel really good because the back corner where the bookshelf is, the big palm tree looks cool. You can sit under the leaves.”
Beau – ” I like the changes because it makes me feel more comfortable and it doesn’t feel so plain”
Kyle – “I love the new setup. It is so much better than it used to be . It’s nice and relaxing.”
Courtney – “I like the classroom and I like to choose where I sit.”
Maya – “I feel really happy. I really like the way our class is now. (please don’t change it back Mrs Warner) because I like it this way.”
Saxon – “It is good because it is cool with the bean bags.”
Tihana – ‘I feel really comfortable and it is easy to learn in. I think the little tables are working and I really like the reading area.”
and my favourite comment…..
Esther – “I like the class a lot because it makes me feel happy and want to learn.“
I am really happy with the results and have also received some positive feedback from my colleagues as well. The students are working really well and seating is rarely a problem as students have more choice of where and with whom they sit and work with. Students move between lessons easily and are more engaged with each other. The flexible seating allows for more collaboration, especially in areas such as science and mathematics.
I will continue to monitor our flexible classroom environment and will ask for student and parent feedback at the end of the year.
Meanwhile I would love to hear from other teachers who are using flexible learning in their classrooms.
Oh and I am still working on the classroom pet!