Katie Fields

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This post is part of our summer 2020 series showcasing unique classrooms. Be sure to check out all our teachers who have been selected to see what they’ve done in their rooms.

Describe your classroom set up:

We are a 100% flexible seating classroom. Collaboration and movement are the foundation of our learning space for both teachers and students. Utilizing tables instead of traditional desks allowed for student interaction and discussion.

All unused materials were removed from the classroom so that we were able to have as much space as possible for learning. If we needed to drag out math manipulatives to work through problems, we did it. If we needed indoor yoga for PE, we did it. When we needed to get into book clubs, we spread out through the room.

Most of our tables were a dry erase top so students had the opportunity to work through their thinking right in front of them. Placing the tables around the edge of the room gave us an open space in the middle for small group work, floor seating when students felt comfortable and a spot for class meetings where all students could sit and see each other.

Why did you choose this particular layout?

I believe that flexible seating leads to increased student work, engagement, and success. Flexible seating options allow students to make choices in the classroom to decide what type of learning environment fits them best.

Having a variety of seating options involves them in the classroom decision-making process, fostering skills of independence, and good choices regarding learning. They will feel safe to take risks and improve their skills in all subject areas, both academically and socially.

What is your favorite part of your design?

My favorite part of our classroom design is the open and uncluttered space created by the tables. I never imagined that removing the desks would free up so much space.

Did anything surprise you about how your students reacted to your classroom (behavior, enjoyment, etc.)?

My students loved to come to class. As the days went by they truly saw our classroom as their own. Room 216 became more than a classroom, it became a home. Somewhere that risks were taken, encouragement flourished and students shined.

What is the biggest piece of design advice you can provide for someone who is just starting to think “outside of the box” in terms of classroom design?

Make your classroom about your students. Give them a place to identify with, to feel comfortable in and feel that they have a voice. Try new things and know that they may work and they may not. The risk is worth taking for your students.

Katie Fields is a 5th-grade self-contained teacher in California. You can follow her on Instagram @lilbug13.

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