We are wrapping up our first week of school today. I want to take some time and reflect on how it’s gone and remind future me why I did things the way I did.
I got some new tables this year. They’re round. They’re great. When the math teacher gets round tables everyone talks about it so that’s been fun. I think they fit in my room a lot better than the rectangular tables I had last year. Those tables each sat two people so I needed 10 of them in my room. They also weren’t very flexible both because of crowding and because they were really too narrow to sit people on both sides or on the ends. Late in the year I stuck them together and made groups of four, but that always meant someone’s back was to the board when I was using the projector.
The round tables are much more flexible. They can easily seat 4-6 students, and four students can sit there and all be clustered on one side to face the projector, if necessary. Students have space when they’re just sitting and then more students can easily come join a table for group work, or I can pull up a chair and sit with them.
I also got rid of my big corner desk this year and now I have to standing desks (one in the front and one in the back). I did this partially for my health (I was having some repetitive stress and nerve pain issues) but also because I didn’t like the way having my desk drew my to go sit down at it during class. I felt like I was giving my students work and then going to my fort. If they came up to me for help there was this big awkward barrier. Now I’m on my feet more, which encourages me to move around the room more, and if I want to sit down I just sit at one of the tables with them. I try to foster a “we’re all in this together” mentality, and I think these structural changes to the classroom support that.
Side note, if you want to use a standing desk you must must get an anti-fatigue mat. They’re not very expensive (mine was about $40 on amazon) and they make a world of difference. Right now I only have one but I want a second one for the other desk!
Also check out all the great cubbies and stuff on this podium/standing desk.
I want to blog some more about some changes I made to assessment and the lessons I chose for the first days of class, so that is to come!