As teachers we are so lucky. We know that when we come to school each day, each day will be different and interesting. We also know that to help students to learn, you need to be a learner yourself.
In the past few years the rate of learning for teachers like myself has soared due to social media. I recently read a post about a teacher in New Zealand who had changed her learning space. At the time I read it, I thought it was a great idea but was not sure how I would go about creating the change. I have always been interested in creating a culture of thinking and learning in my classs, where the teacher steps back and the children help drive the learning. It was for this reason that an epiphany struck me one day last term.
We recently had our school PYP Exhibition where my year six students presented their learning to the school and wider community. Throughout the learning process for the Exhibition, the kids in my class were creating their own spaces for learning. In setting up for the day most of our desks were taken out of my room and stored. There was suddenly all this space in the room that could be changed. I realised that for so many years I had worked on creating a collaborative learning culture in my room, but I was helping my pupils to decide who to collaborate with and where their learning should take place. Still a little uncomfortable about what I was going to do to change the space and how I was going to do it, I asked one of my colleagues about her thoughts. I asked myself the question, “Does Your Classroom Reflect What You Believe About Learning?” The short answer was “No”. While discussing it I became convinced and my excitement started to gain momentum.
So….. after the Exhibition I put the idea to my class. I explained that I had been teaching for so long and that teaching and learning has changed so much over this time. We spoke about being 21st Century learners in a learning space that was static. I asked them what they thought about the idea of changing our space and they were really enthusiastic. So we went about the school looking for alternative furniture to replace desks and chairs. We changed these for Ottomans instead. The whole atmosphere in my room began to change. The kids told me that a new Essential Agreement for this Flexible space should be created. They created one and constantly refer to it if things are not going so well.