My name is Anthony Breese, and I been a teacher for 18 years. I've had various classes and always loved to try new things. One lecturer once told me that I would try things in the classroom that other teachers wouldn't go near for risk of difficult management. This is a little odd, because I'm not a big risk taker with other things. But I do like to keep things interesting for my students and myself. Change is as good as a holiday as they always say.
In 2011, the teachers from the school I was working in were offered to shift into our technology block, which was a large space with two rooms. My principal was going to order me some new furniture of chairs and desks for my students, but I asked him to hold off as I would really like to design and add in furniture with a difference. Being the forward thinking bloke he was, he was happy for me to think outside the square.
So I opened up google sketchup and designed my space. It wasn't a perfect design as I'm no designer, but it did enough to get the idea.
This is what I came up with…
My aim was to shake up the space and force the children to find a space that suited what they wanted. I deliberately didn't buy enough chairs for everyone and I tried to create different learning spaces throughout the room.
So my principal went to the Board of Trustees and after a few quotes and costings, we were able to purchase the furniture.
When the children came in to see the space, they were very excited and so was I.
What did I discover from my new space and furniture?
It's not the furniture that changes the learning, it's how you teach and the way the students use the furniture.
What it did was made me think very differently about learning and how children like to use the space. I found the children usually went back to the same spaces. The ones who liked to work alone, worked alone. Those who like beanbags or lying on the floor were always there.
In my next post, I'll talk to you about how I changed my teaching and learning to create student agency within the classroom. If you want to go into more detail about how I flipped my classroom, checkout my online course "Dare to Learn Differently".