There are so many questions that I have as a teacher. Sometimes I wake up at night wishing I had the answers to everything, but sadly (sigh) I do not. If I did, sleeping would be a lot easier! Last year I spend a lot of time questioning why so many of our classrooms look the way that they do?
Classrooms should be a place where learning can happen no matter where you are. Students do not have to sit in the same spot all day and they can move about the classroom based on what they need. Sitting at a clump of desks means that our students don’t necessarily have opportunities to collaborate and communicate with different people unless there is a seating change.
I posted my thoughts on our class blog site and asked the students to blog about ways that we might create a classroom with the best possible learning environment. Armed with my student’s ideas and hours of research, I did it. I took the plunge and said goodbye to desks. Furniture was difficult to come by so I pieced together what I could find. We had round tables, rectangular tables and desks flipped to create new configurations. We had cubbies at the back that held notebooks, duotangs and textbooks for each subject. At the front of the class we had drawers assigned, one per student that could hold pencil cases and anything that students would have left in their desks. When everything was all set up, I was excited and couldn’t wait to get started.
I feel that going back to a traditional classroom is not what is best for my students, but I have not yet figured out how to make the best possible learning environment. Have you experimented with no desks? What does your classroom look like and how do you foster collaborative communication in your class?