Is it a chair? Is it a sofa? No its a splat. It’s a funky coloured three person sofa, that splits into separate chairs, that can by sat on, or learned on and it’s in my classroom.
Last Christmas holiday’s Year 6 had a makeover. Lockers, boards and a computer pod were knocked out and the empty shell freshly painted and a new carpet laid. in January we moved back in to the space with the old furniture. Well almost we moved back in with 20 desks and 20 chairs, two bean bags and several lap desks each. Did I mention I have 27 students in my class and yes we moved back in with 20 chairs and 20 desks.
So what did this mean to my students? A whole lot of unlearning. Since kindergarten they have owned a space, a chair, a table, a name plate, their space. So why did we do this? We wanted to teach our students to stop and think, think about the learning, think about the space and think about what and where they needed to sit, in order to learn the best at any moment in time. The transition for some was hard, the saving of desks was banned. Students were made to move around the room. Groups were formed and re-formed, made to try new ways and new places. But gradually they relaxed, relaxed into the space and into the flexibility.
And that was when we surveyed them. Just what furniture did we need? What would they like? Why? What do they need when in a group? When on their own? Jointly and deliberately we decided not to totally fill the space with furniture. They decided that they didn’t need a place each, but that they did need modular, flexible tables. they wanted a standing table, they wanted a couch, they wanted more beanbags. And so that is what we bought.
So now we have two classrooms, still full of space. We each have 16 chairs, several modular tables, that can be formed into fours, or sixes or more. We have a standing table and two stools each, several beanbags and lap desks. And we each have a splat. When our modular doors are open, which is often the space is filled with students on the floor, on beanbags, standing, sitting and above all learning.
So I ask you, does every student in your classroom need their own desk?