Life is all about taking risks, right? Well, that’s what we encourage children to do all the time! So, when my headteacher gave me the go ahead to make changes to my classroom, I immediately felt excited. I already had some ideas!
The seed of my dream was planted when I listened to a speaker at an Independent Thinking conference. The speaker was questioning ‘Why have seating arrangements in classrooms hardly changed in 100 years?’. The presenter showed images of modern classrooms containing alternative seating (bunk beds, sofas, beanbags, a rowing boat!). This was a revolution to me!
The idea of flexible learning is to allow the children the freedom to choose where they feel they can best do their learning on any given day and who they sit with. This could mean sitting on a sofa one day and sitting on a cushion on the floor the next day. The environment of the classroom needs to provide different seating options that the children can explore and use. They can move places if they want to – for example, to avoid distractions.
This is my classroom before the changes:
Why flexible learning?
The research supporting flexible learning spaces is vast and multifaceted. From postural benefits to behaviour improvement and proven reductions in childhood obesity, the research shouted at me that the benefits could be huge. BUT, I have to admit that I was nervous about ‘letting go’. In my mind, I questioned whether giving the children more freedom and flexibility might result in chaos and a lack of focus. Having spent my teaching career so far carefully arranging desks and thinking about seating positions, I started to wonder whether I was a bit mad for even contemplating this!
However, despite my moments of ‘freaking out’ I knew that I had to give it a try. After all, I reckoned I could pull this off for a minimal budget and keep the desks and chairs in case everything went badly wrong!!
Next instalment to follow….