Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Is it REALLY a problem?

Over the summer I painstakingly arranged my classroom.  Determining where to put my rug (meeting area) & my tables.  I purposefully arranged my classroom so that the way we work & think was the focus: whole group, small group, independent.  I intentionally ensured that there was an easy flow to the work areas while providing me with a 'birds eye view' of my students. 

When I had the room arranged, my AP who knows me well (better than myself?) asked if I was going to be okay with the meeting area away from the SMARTBoard.  She wasn't asking because its an expensive piece of equipment that should be used.  She was asking because she knows my passion for technology.  I reassured her saying that I didn't want the board to be the focal point, I wanted our thinking to be the focal point.  Here is what I was actually reluctant to admit at the time...I HATED my SMARTBoard.  I saw it as a glorified (overpriced) projector that would send my teaching back to the 'sage on the stage' model.

Who would have guessed that a few weeks later with just 1 day of training that my SMARTBoard has become integral to my teaching?  Not only does it allow me to have things prepared (charts, energizers, groupings, etc.) ahead of time with easy duplication if needed, it allows me to create interactive activities in all of the subject areas.   Once I teach the children how to do something on the board, I can step aside & let them work their magic.  I literally become the 'guide on the side'. 

So, what's the problem?  I want all of the mini - lessons / whole group conversations to happen in one central place.  Right now sometimes we are on the rug & sometimes in front of the SMARTBoard.  My easel is near my rug & often times it would be really helpful to have it by the SMARTBoard.  I have to move one of my bookshelves for the kiddoes to see & sit better & then move it back so they have easy access to books.   In my effort to keep the flow smooth, it feels jammed.

But...here's one thing I'm aware of.  Just because its not working for me, doesn't mean its not working for my kiddoes.  Tomorrow, one of my goals is to closely observe the kids when we gather.  Where do they seem the most comfortable?   Are some more reluctant to come to one area?  Is it easier for them to get to one over another? 

What will I do if my observations lead me to conclude that they are as flustered as I am by the arrangement?  If that is what I conclude, I will make time on Thursday to talk to my kiddoes about it.  What do they notice about the room arrangement?  How is it working for them?  What would they do to make it work better / differently?  In the end, I want the learning environment to fit their needs.