Friday, January 17, 2014

The risers make their appearance at my new school.

Over the winter break, I brought in the risers. 

I followed previous students' advice and introduced them very slowly.  (Actually,  the first time I introduced the risers, I did it slowly because it took me so long to build them! )  Now, I brought them in slowly because I wasn't sure how my wacky ideas would be received in my new school.

With my students this year,  I'd built up a lot about the use and expectations on the risers before bringing them in. 

The kids love them.  They get the idea of using them for self regulation,  moving on them when their bodies feel wiggly, standing by them when they need to stretch while working, and gathering on them like bleachers when we need to meet together as a group. 

The parents have been supportive too.  We had our student led conferences last week, and they were interested and curious. Some of them stretched out on the risers or kneeled beside them on the floor as they looked at their child's learning.  One dad was saying how he tells his coworkers about the different things we are trying, but his coworkers don't really believe or understand what he tells them.

My staff's reaction has been very varied.  My principal has been very supportive. He understands about trying things in different ways, and we've been attending a seminar series on self regulated learning.   The other teachers are interested ("Hey, what are those things?") or oblivious (because I've kept the arrival of the risers very quiet).

The custodial staff has been really terrific.  I tweak and rearrange everything every couple of weeks.  Desks are moved out and stored in the hallway as we transition onto the risers.  I have carpets for floor work and to hide extension cords which means sweeping and vacuuming can be a puzzle.  Not once have the custodians complained, and we communicate with each other to see what works for them and for students' learning.   In fact one replacement caretaker said the riser set up was the most innovative thing he'd seen in a classroom.  He totally understood the intent, and wished he'd had them when he was a squirmy young boy.