Make learners conform to the room, or make the room conform to the learning? #EdSpace


That’s what a small can of chalkboard paint cost at a hardware store nearby. With several cans of chalkboard paint and a few cans of whiteboard paint, a lower school teacher transformed the learning environment for the student learners coming to her soon.

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Instead of students “getting in trouble” for writing on the desks, Miss F altered the typical “classroom” environment so that desk writing was not only permissible, but encouraged and fun.

For 1st graders. Learning to write and express themselves through writing.

When the student learners gathered in the room for the first time, during a recent orientation day, there was much writing and drawing on desks! They owned their learning environment with those acts of defiance turned and transformed into acts of creativity.

And should the student learners tire of sitting, there are standing-level desks and exercise balls to bounce on while one learns. A far cry from “Sit still!”

What an act of transformation. To reverse the typical paradigm. Instead of expecting students to bear the lion’s share of conforming to the rules of the room, the rules of the room were re-conformed to promote the desired dispositions and learning explorations of the student learners!

And with such a flip in conformity expectations, transformations are made possible. And deep relationships forged.

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Recent, incredible resources on space re-design:

“8 Tips and Tricks to Redesign Your Classroom,” Edutopia, August 6, 2013, by David Bill (@DavidSBill) and The Third Teacher+ (@TheThirdTeacher)

6 thoughts on “Make learners conform to the room, or make the room conform to the learning? #EdSpace

  1. Pingback: Make learners conform to the room, or make the ...

  2. Great post! Great classroom! One of my kids walked in the room the other day and noticed I didn’t have any name tags on the desk he said “Oh sweet, we get don’t have assigned seats, we get to learn wherever we want to.” I love this! He notices this within two minutes of walking into the room. It is our rigidity and rules that stifles learning. How might we encourage creativity and curiosity by making our learning communities safe places to learn, fail, and teach others?
    How might we unleash our kids on the world ?
    So blessed to work at a school that allows us to ask these questions and empowers our students to search for answers and questions in everything they pursue.

    • Andrea,

      Thank you for your comment. It is amazing, isn’t it, how empowering the “small changes” can be. When we start with name-tagged seats, albeit many could cite great reasons for doing so, we erode a chance for the room to feel like “ours.” When students walk in, your decision to allow them choice was a signal, a sign, that this room is theirs, too. Not just yours. And from such “small things” bigger things can happen.

      Love your HMW Qs! And I audibly “Wow-ed” when I read the one on Twitter about “How might we think big?!”

      Have a great Day 2.

  3. Redesign… that is what we are all about. Clearing out the desks in Miss Fitz’s room seemed like a big decision at the time. Now that I have seen children engaged in their new learning environment, I wonder what reservations we ever had. How might we…

    • Shelley,

      Thanks for taking the time to comment. I cherish the interactions in this space. What a great message you give about the seemingly “BIG decisions” that could be flipped and turned on their heads with wider perspectives. I’m thankful that you seek such learner-driven perspectives over the-way-its-always-been-done POVs.


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