New Year; New Perspective

Reflecting on spaces and practices in new ways to offer new opportunities and new levels of engagement for all students.

As the final page of the calendar is turned and a new year begins, it’s a time worthy of reflection and possible revision. It can be easy to fall into familiar routines and practices, but can these levels of comfort also lead to levels of disinterest? By taking the time and consideration to view practices and spaces through the eyes of students, teachers can gain a unique perspective for increasing engagement and bringing some New Year interest to the school year’s tired halfway point.

See the learning space through students’ eyes.

What’s going on with the space(s) in the classroom? Could the areas and resources be more functional and accessible for student usage and navigation? Take the time to define different learning spaces and ensure that all the materials and resources needed while using them can be easily accessed. Spaces can be defined with string lights, furniture arrangements, signage, and more.

Are there a variety of flexible seating options? Where could more student-friendly and comfort-friendly furnishings be incorporated? This could be accomplished by simply adding some bouncy bands to existing desks, bringing some seating down to the floor level with cushions and/or lap desks, bringing some students out of their seats with standing desks, and a variety of other functional options.

See the activities and methods of delivery through students’ eyes.

Are students active participants in their learning or merely vessels with an expectation of information absorption? How is learning occurring in the classroom? While some of a teacher’s excitement can pour over into students as information about a topic is being delivered, a pedagogical approach that relies heavily on teachers disseminating information is often one with limited student engagement. When students take on the role of active information gatherers, the engagement level is likely to rise.

Is there variety among the activities and learning opportunities presented in class? By the midyear point, students will have routines and formats down pat (for the most part). This regulation can lead to a tapering of interest and/or an influx of behavioral issues because the wow phase is complete. This doesn’t mean the entire repertoire is need of a change, but a few tweaks and additions here and there can go a long way toward rebuilding focused interest.

See the relationships through students’ eyes.