Recently, our team was discussing classroom space configurations. Mary and Jim asked about the configurations I used as a teacher. I drew them a diagram (recreated in Google drawings here). We had one type of student desk (yellow seat attached to wooden desk with metal basket underneath). Desks were arranged in two groups of rows. One grouping faced the “front” of the room and the other faced the “side” of the room where the double whiteboards were mounted on the wall. At least 3 factors limited the flexibility of this space…1) the type of desks, 2) the role students were asked to play (mostly consumers), and 3) the teacher’s lack of imagination (me).
I created a nice flow from the doorway into the room so students could easily access their desks. I also created at least a fourth or a third of the room for “teacher” space. I had two large bookshelves for “my stuff” behind “my desk” and an extra table where students could pick up their handouts. In the front corner were two filing cabinets, fully labeled and color coordinated with lesson plans and resources. The TV and DVD player sat on top of the two filing cabinets. I had a wooden podium for lectures and a white pub table (also for lectures). The blue circle is a stool. The red X is where I would stand when I wanted to start class. Students knew it was time to begin when I stood in this spot and they would “shush” each other. I didn’t have to say a word.
These were exactly the desks students used. Functional for individual work, but not for collaboration. Not very comfortable. Not terribly flexible.
One of my AP World History classes doing a “JC Penney catalog pose.” I painted the map on the wall and used it throughout the year, changing the focal point from the front of the room to the back.
Another class doing the pose. Great kids – loved them all.
Mr. Rountree was my “trailer” mate and partner in crime. We called our double-wide portable classroom the “Tree-House” (a combination of Rountree and Houston). My current team will notice the color flow charts on the table behind him. Apparently, I was in to flow charts back then, too.
Behind my desk(s) were two solid oak bookshelves. All of my resources were on the middle and bottom shelves for easy access. I always preferred a clean desk at the end of each day. (And an empty INBOX).
Behind the podium in a tie. And in jeans on a Friday. Mr. Rountree and I frequently took our classes outside for a “brain break” and a friendly game of Ultimate Frisbee. We played, too.
There was only one other configuration we used. Before major tests, we would play “Quiz Bowl” with the electronic buzzers. Teams would rotate. Students not playing would sit behind and listen to the questions.
How might you reconfigure your learning spaces? How would you advise me to reconfigure this space from 2006-2010? Stay tuned for Part 2 when I will share how I would re-imagine the space today.