So now I had my vision, but reality kept creeping in.
I wanted to build an intimate bank of seating like the Museum of Anthropology, but I knew I didn't have the skills to do semi-circular, so rectangular was my best option. I designed these double tiered benches that looked like choir risers, but big enough for kids to sit in a number of ways. I wanted the risers to maintain a variety of body positions for students plus flexibility in the ways I could arrange my room, so they had to be movable. I mapped out how they would fit in my classroom and how many students would go on them. I made a floor plan that still had some desks for students who were not ready for such a drastic change.
When school opened again after Spring Break, I pitched the idea to my teaching partner. At first, he looked at me like I had two heads, (but he always looks at me like that). And being a fresh new, moldable teacher, he kind of shrugged and said, "Okay, let's try it." The more we talked, the more ideas he pitched in. He's been really terrific about it, especially as he is in the classroom more than I am. I come up with the weird ideas and he has to deal with the fall-out. (I LOVE that arrangement. Many successful businesses and quite a few dictatorships are built on the same solid principle.)
We ran the idea by our students. I explained that I wanted our classroom to look less like a classroom so that they didn't think learning just took places that had student desks, colourful borders and posters, signs explaining punctuation etc. I told them I would be removing most things that you could only find in a school, so that they could start to see that their learning could happen any place. Their reaction was really interesting. Not jumping up and down excitement. Not fearful opposition. It was a quiet and thoughtful curiosity with lots of questions helping to refine my vision and their understanding.
Next week are the Student Led Conferences so it will be interesting to see how the parents react. I intend to use excerpts from this blog on my bulletin board to explain what the thinking is behind the redesign of my classroom.