Welcome to TheAAcafe. I purpose of this site is to keep a record of my attempt to change my teaching style and it’s effectiveness in my classroom.
I’ve been teaching for 20 years and most of it has been in elementary. In the middle of my 18th year, I decided to jump ship and teach middle school. The tools I gained from teaching K-5 and the Read180 program I used in my middle school position which was essentially a SuccessMaker Math Lab.
I saw many interesting things in that Math Lab but one thing really stood out. I saw students who were really motivated to move ahead, go up two or three grade levels with minimal help. I saw students help each other when allowed or encouraged which in turn help me focus on those students who needed instruction directly from me. Some students went ahead of the class without a single instance of help on my part. They just figured it out. Others came to my area after every problem because they like interacting with me while learning.
After a year and a half at that position, I was asked to teach 7th grade Math and Science. That’s when I had the idea to make this year more like that lab. I want to give students the option to learn directly from me, from each other, online or just on their own. With this in mind, I knew my classroom set up had to change but didn’t know exactly how to go about this.
This past summer I went to a Renaissance conference in Arizona which focused on celebrating educational achievements. One of the breakout sessions really caught my attention. Dwight L. Cart presented on the topic of teaching to the next generation and how different it was even compared to those who know how to use technology well like myself. At one point, he mentioned that students felt more comfortable learning in a coffee shop.
After reading his book, “What’s In Your Space?“, I decided to make my classroom more like a coffee shop. I would like to clarify this because I’ve done some research and I need to be clear about this. The goal of making my classroom like a coffee shop is not to make it look cute or even to allow flexible seating. It does allow for the that, but the goal is to promote flexible learning. The seating arrangements allow for this.
Finally, I would like to thank my family for helping me make this work. My wife is an awesome decorator (and a fellow school teacher) and she made the classroom look great. My boys helped in painting and putting things together in my class. Without them, this would have been a disaster. Thanks!