I’m currently sitting in Starbucks so I can get some work done. We recently got a new puppy, and let’s just say I accomplish very little with him around, so here I am.
As I sit here observing the clusters of people working and talking together, the individuals studying or reading, I realize why I want to “Starbucks my Classroom”.
While this title is unique (check out the awesome Oskar Cymerman here to read more about it in detail), the idea is nothing new. We finished the school year with a small group of teachers researching and discussing Student-centered learning. We discussed handing the responsibility of learning off to the students, how to change our teaching to better suit this style, and how to change our classrooms to encourage collaboration and innovation.
But there’s something about Starbucks that just resonates with this whole idea. I’m awkwardly sitting here, sipping my Chai latte, observing patrons. If I could take pictures of the people working here without being tackled or kicked out, I totally would. People are leaning together with their laptops turned toward each other. At the same table, others work with headphones on in isolation, content to use the atmosphere to help them focus.
This is literally exactly what I want my classroom to look like. Kids working on what they need to work on. Focused, collaborating–or not–to achieve their tasks in a way that suits them.
How is this to be accomplished?
I’m not just worried about where I’m going to find chairs, tables, rugs, lamps, etc. That part, while daunting, is doable. (As a matter of fact, I’ve already had a couple people on Twitter offer to send some items my way! Woohoo!!)
What I’m concerned about is how to get kids excited and invested in this new atmosphere without thinking that it’s just free time. I’ve seen classrooms with couches–they’re usually (not always!) a bit chaotic, and not in a good way. They’re the classrooms where kids work for a couple minutes and then become absorbed in social media or other distractions and yet they all manage to have A’s! Okay, my view of couches may be a little harsh, but I think you all know what kind of room I’m talking about.
I want my classroom to be inviting and comfortable, but I also want the same level of expectation for work and learning to be considered. I do not want kids to think that just because they’re comfortable it means they’re at home playing video games.
Does that make sense? Isn’t it weird how sometimes our fears or reservations are hard to verbalize, yet they still manage to paralyze us? It’s frustrating.
What fears are you struggling with heading into the next school year? What do you need help with? Who can help you? Seek out what you need and have the confidence to follow through with your ideas. If you’re pumped about it, and you know it’s in the best interest of the kids, then do it!
Now I just need to take my own advice!