Over the last week or so it has been decided that I will be spending my second year teaching year 4, although I will be working with a completely new team. I have much to reflect on to inform my practice next year, but I have already decided something I want to work on is my use of space.
I really want to start to use my classroom space to really support my values of a child centred classroom for personalising learning and giving children responsibility and independence over their learning. This year I have reorganised quite a few times, but my placement of the furniture has too often been influence by managing behaviour rather than supporting learning, and this is something I want to change.
The space in my classroom is very limited, although we do have a shared group area with the other year 4 class that I want to make more use of. Therefore organisation of space is often down to how I can actually fit in the tables and chairs for all the children. This may be a mistake to begin with, perhaps I do not need to have tables and chairs for every child to sit down at the same time…
This year I have mostly worked around group desks, partly because that is what I was used to, partly because I like to encourage group interactions, and partly due to my use of Kagan cooperative learning, which is based around groups of 4. More recently I have experimented with creating different areas of the room and allowing the children to choose where they sit. We have had a horseshoe table, desks facing the wall, group tables, and individual island desks. The children have then had to sit with their ‘cooperative partners’, but choose where they sit for different lessons. Asking them to stay with certain partners was intended to trigger conversations and debates on the merits of certain places, and we have had some interesting discussions of learning dispositions and why they choose certain places.
I feel like this is just scratching the surface, and I would be really grateful for ideas, advice, and links to reading on use of space, that I can use to develop my room to really support the kind of learning I want to encourage. Obviously its hard to advise without knowing my room, but I’d really appreciate some ‘blue sky thinking’ on creating a learning environment to support personalised, child centred learning with Key stage 2 pupils.