If you jumped into an Uber and found a child driving, would you stay in that vehicle?
If you lay on an operating table and found a child hovering over you, readying to perform your important abdominal surgery – would you just lay back and let the anesthetic kick in?
Of course, you wouldn’t.
The simple reasons you wouldn’t allow a child to complete these important tasks are twofold:
Kids are also not qualified in educational design. And this is why I’m so befuddled when Teachers tell me that the jumbled seating plan of their classroom was chosen by the students.
“I’ve given the students the chance to choose the classroom layout and told them they have to earn the right to keep it that way.”
Umm … just “No!”
Kids are not going to design your classroom for learning success. They’re going to set it up for the reinforcement of a social hierarchy that’s corrosive to your plans for a cohesive and friendly classroom.
It’s not their fault, but they wouldn’t even know where to start on designing a classroom for learning success. But somebody in that room does know … and it’s you!
You’re the expert on educational design. You’re the learning expert. And you’re the one who should be doing the high-level design thinking about how achievement can be the cornerstone of your students’ classroom experience.
You’re qualified, you see.
You can’t control, or even impact, what happens in your students’ lives on the weekend or before they walk through the door of your classroom. But you can control everything about what they walk into inside that door. EVERYTHING.
If you want a collaborative classroom, get them into groups of four or six. If you want learning circles prioritised, make sure there’s room for them. If you need the students to see the board, make sure they can.
And take a moment occasionally, perhaps on a Friday arvo, to just stand in the corner of your classroom and ask yourself “Is this architecture designed to make it impossible for the students in this room to conduct themselves the way I want them to … and to achieve?”
Keep fighting that good fight,
PS. Maybe you paused over that concept of Learning Circles in this blog and wondered what I was on about. I’ll be covering that and heaps more at “Restorative Classrooms, Strong Classrooms” in May/June in Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane. You should come!
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