Creating flexible, dynamic learning environments is essential to meeting our 21st century learners where they are. Presenting students with choice and allowing them to take charge of their learning is vital when arranging a successful learning space.
Megan Baker, a grade 2 teacher at École Ste-Marguerite Bourgeoys of the Kenora Catholic District School Board, recently shared with us how she has created an environment where students are encouraged to be in charge of their own learning. Her thoughtfully arranged classroom is set up in centers offering areas for large group, small group, and individual work. Baker says that, by allowing children to take the initiative and choose where they are most comfortable working, they develop skills such as independence, confidence, and self-reliance. In the beginning, she guided them as they learned to navigate the room but, over time, students figured out how to best arrange themselves in her open plan, free-flowing classroom. Bean bags, nesting tables, standing tables, stools, and chairs are all available to her students. They have the freedom to choose how they are most comfortable throughout the day.
Baker notes that the standing tables have been at the core of her classroom transformation. They have also been the biggest attraction to her students and are usually the most popular choice. She shares that kids want to stand and need to move and being able to do so increases their attention and focus. After seeing the impact of standing tables on the learning experience, she knows she could never go back to teaching in a classroom filled with individual desks. Baker now sees herself as more of a facilitator of learning, rather than as a deliverer of information. Her students “drive a lot of their learning” and “are in charge of their own space” and standing tables have made this possible.