The 21st Century Classroom: Five Things You Need to Consider When Sett
Apr 29, 2017 Classroom Materials 2971 Views
The 21st century classroom should be an environment of student-centered spaces. Good-bye desks! Good-bye front of the room where the teacher stands and the students watch. Hello, change!
This is not a new concept, in the early 1900's Maria Montessori, an Italian physician, educator and innovator, established her well-known educational method. As a psychiatrist, with an interest in education she approached this method with the awareness that children will learn what they need to on their own. This makes sense, if you think about it on an instinctual level, in order to survive, learning is essential. And failure is our best teacher.
Our pupils need a space that is set up to enhance their learning, not meet our teaching demands. But what about the demands they place on the teacher to have every child meeting every learning standard by whatever date they deem necessary? I've never met a teacher that agrees with this demand. However, I see classroom teachers scrambling to cram in this curriculum style because they know their job is on the line according to this new accountability clause.
It's kind of hard to swallow. The early childhood classroom is setting aside play-based learning to meet the demands of the English Language Arts learning standards. Why aren't we addressing this issue that crops up a plethora of language issues? Why aren't we addressing the "sensory" needs that are cropping up due to the change in society. Please note, I'm not recommending we change this up-rise in technology. I'm saying, lets slow down and meet the sensory perception portions of our brain in a safe environment that can help balance these two needs, both physically and socially.
I think we can create a space that will balance both the technological advances of this next generation with what we've learned about the brain and it's needs to function properly.
Setting up the Physical Environment
With the latest brain research in mind, imagine your classroom working for your students' learning. Do your learners require wide-open spaces or small "cubby" spaces that create that physical boundary? How can you rearrange your environment to set up both so that students can choose for themselves? This may mean simply rearranging some shelves to create cubbies or completely removing all student's desk and relying on a central "meeting spot" to hash out daily expectations.
1. Do your students do better with the overhead fluorescent lighting or lamps that create a more natural light. I prefer natural lighting but I have some students who prefer the fluorescent lights. We use both in my room.
2. Music can be beneficial as well. I've seen classrooms that use background music to help kids stayed focused and I've been in rooms that use classical music to create a mood. I think this is something that you have to experiment with and can change on a daily basis or hourly basis depending on your class dynamic and structure.
4. Speaking of balance, I do think it is important to be aware of the Career and College Readiness Standards their society will expect. However, I think it is our job, as educators, to create an environment that invites and welcomes all learners to participate and experience through their own understandings and at their own rate. This can be offered by setting up different areas of the room with a variety of activities that will all teach the same things, just in different ways.
5. This is something that I will focus on this year. Having materials, methods of summative and formative assessment, and methods of reflection tools organized in a fashion that will be workable and accessible to me.