Where do your best thinking? Your best work? Do you like isolation or being in a large open room? Do you like to sit in a comfortable chair or at a desk? Depending on the task, I alter my work environment to be the most productive.
If I need to focus on something, especially reading a difficult text I like to go to the library and sit in a cubicle. I like the feeling of being walled in on all sides. It’s comforting and helps me focus. When I need to brainstorm for a topic, I need the ability to move. I take a walk or I mow the yard. My brain needs a jump start and a walk usually gets the blood circulating and helps me to my best thinking. When I want to work with a group of people I like to work at a large table with plenty of space for everyone to sit around comfortably. I also like access to a whiteboard to brainstorm together.
As an adult I have the ability to alter where and how I accomplish tasks to best suit the situation. I set myself up for success. Shouldn’t students be given those same opportunities?
I recently read an article about the Hillbrook School and their iLab. They have designed a “computer lab” unlike any I have seen before. The lab features movable whiteboards, tables and chairs, along with a variety of comfortable seating arrangements. The lab starts at a basic “reset” position. From that point students are able to create their own workspaces depending on the task they are working on. I could see this being a real motivating factor when students can create a workspace based on personal preference and the task they are trying to accomplish vs. the traditional classroom setting.
Here are some links to more information:
I’ve been thinking a lot about my own classroom, and there a lot of things I would love to try in the future if I can find the correct furniture. Right now my wish list consists of the following:
- A high top table for students to stand and work at- I think some of my students who struggle to sit still might benefit from being able to stand and work
- Moveable whiteboards- It’s a lot easier to brainstorm with a group when you can write it out on a big whiteboard
- A small stage, 12 inches tall- There is something about having a slight height advantage that gives students more confidence
- A podium to give speeches and presentations from
I hope to find ways to allow my students to create their own learning environments next year. I will be more flexible in how the students arrange their desks and encourage them to change their environments to fit their needs.