How many of you have thought about the Dimensions of Learning lately? Not so much? You're not alone. Click on the link for a refresher. The only reason I thought about them is I recently rearranged my room. It made a HUGE difference. For me and for the kids. I tried to link the reasoning for the change for good with research. I came up with Dimension 1. Creating positive attitudes and perceptions in the classroom.
I "share" my classroom space with two other teachers. They use the room minimally, but they had it first and set it up first: large mat in the center of the room, small tables along the walls. I couldn't "maneuver" or organize the way I was used to. The students were crammed together, bumping elbows while reading and writing. I knew how I felt, like I didn't have my own space. It made it hard to think. For ME. I could only imagine that my students felt the same way. Before winter break, I got the okay to rearrange.
We now have a small mat section in the reading corner. (We actually have a reading corner!) We have a larger section of mat in front of the Smartboard. The students each have their own desks! We have TWO tables for guided reading, guided writing and small math groups! Woot! (Before we pulled up chairs and arranged them in a circle, clipboards and books in hand.)
Before "The Change" my class spent three weeks, THREE WEEKS, working to earn a class reward for a Team Effort in following directions and working hard. (Near-constant chatter, reminders to work/read, etc.) Since "The Change" they earned TWO rewards in TWO weeks. Wowza!
So, I tried to reason the successful outcome for "The Change" by linking it to research. Dimensions of Learning: Dimension 1 was the answer I came up with.
(I tried NOT to think that I'm a lousy teacher who should be able to bring my students to amazing success no matter what supplies/room arrangement I have. But I did anyways. I hope I did my very best to support them and teach them BEFORE the change. And I know I did. But I also know what a HUGE difference supplies/resources/space can make to students and teachers alike.
---slipping into a new topic:
It makes me really think about the schools/teachers/students who are not as fortunate as we are here in Wisconsin. It made me wonder what schools who are not as fortunate as us could do if they had the resources they need and deserve. All I did was rearrange my room. I always had supplies and resources. Look at the difference I noticed!
I've been to plenty of conferences where teachers speak about the conditions they've taught in in various other parts of the country. Outdated texts. NO texts. Teeny, rat-infested, moldy classrooms. NO computers. NO paper or pencils. (Sorry I have zero stats or specifics to share with you during this post. But the stories stuck with me.) They made me think lots about the talk shows and celebrities I've heard bash public schools and teachers lately.
I hope I never make excuses for myself as a teacher or for teachers in general. But I wish people would stop and think for a moment about who they hurt when they lash out, especially if it's in haste/unresearched/unsupported. For every one teacher who may be lacking in "the right stuff" there are ten who are not. I only know teachers who have their hearts and souls in the right places: helping each child in their schools to reach their full potentials. Why, would anyone whose heart was not in the right place spend 180 days in conditions like the ones I mentioned above?)
Anyways, a lot more goes into teaching than just standing in front of a group of students and teaching them 2+2=4 and to always add punctuation at the end of a sentence. We're all just trying to find the best possible ways to do it all.
Recently, for me, it was to rearrange my classroom to allow students to have the space they needed to develop positive attitudes and perceptions about school and learning.