Whenever I tell someone that I teach middle school, they immediately assume I'm crazy or tell me what a saint I am for putting up with young teenagers. No matter how it's presented, the message is always the same, "How could a person possibly CHOOSE to fill their day-to-day life with preteens?" Although it seems like an insane concept to most, this age group fills my days with a lot of joy and laughter.
In addition to being a lot of fun to teach, my current group of blessings is full of energy.
They are always asking if they will get to move around the room for the day's lesson, eager to stretch their legs. They love learning activities where I allow them to get up and move around the class to seek answers. Task cards, wobble chairs, and getting up to get supplies are a few of their favorite things. Although my kids are reluctant to admit it, they also love reading, especially when the story is about a real person or event. My current group of kids enjoys discussing, questioning, and researching important, current event topics. They are awesome and encouraging young adults!
When I was earning my undergrad at Ball State, one of my favorite education professors profoundly claimed, "flexibility is the key to teaching." At the time, this meant nothing to me. But now, five years into my career as an educator, I've learned that there is a lot of truth to that. However, I believe that flexibility in the classroom should come in all forms, including the seating options.
As I reevaluate my teaching practices, I see a need to create a more inviting and engaging learning environment.
Flexible seating is a way to diversify seating options and create a more inclusive atmosphere where all types of learners can have their needs met. I am seeking to build a space where young adults who prefer to stand while reading, can. Where students who need to bounce on a chair to exert energy have that option. Where my learners who need to sprawl out on the floor to write, have the space to do so.
This project will fund a well-researched design idea that is gaining momentum throughout the world of public education. Through my investigating, I have found that by providing seating options in the classroom, such as comfy chairs or standing desks, student engagement and behavior improves. Also, physical activity is directly correlated to higher academic performance, which can be made more accessible in a classroom that has seating options. I aspire to design a room that requires less sitting upright and offers more flexible movement for my energetic young adults.
The educational needs of my students are changing, and if I am planning to be an effective educator, I need to be flexible, as that is the key.
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