My students are keen, attentive learners who value each other and their own educations. As middle school students in our district's Honors program, they set high expectations for themselves and approach their daily school work with a sense of individual responsibility and purpose, yet many also have a sense of humor and love to laugh. What I admire most about these ambitious eleven-year-olds is their humility and kindness to each other.
My students are a multi-cultural, multi-lingual group of gifted learners who approach school with passion and purpose, yet they often deal with anxiety.
Because so many strive to be high achievers, they can experience intense emotions and perfectionism. As a result, I want to create a learning space for them that is calming and allows them to experience peace.
Fluorescent lighting creates numerous learning challenges and makes the room environment institutional and harsh. I recently hung outdoor string lights along my classroom ceiling and now teach primarily with the overhead lights off. The results have been immediate; students have begun to settle into the room in the calm, relaxed state that is optimal for learning, and they maintain a high level of attention and engagement throughout the class. Although students have light at their table from their ipads, I'd like to offer some soft lighting at each of my ten table groups to enhance the impact even further and sustain it over the long-term. Students have already expressed that they feel far less anxiety with the subtle changes I've made so far. One student commented that the outdoor string lights allowed her to write calmly, while the fluorescent lights made her feel she was "forced to write." Another said that the room "relaxes her as soon as she enters" but still leaves her motivated and ready to work hard.
The soft lighting will also allow my introverts to feel less intimidated within the classroom environment; one student commented that the fluorescent lighting made her feel that she was perpetually "onstage" or "learning inside a glass case." Another introvert commented that institutional lighting made her feel like she was "in a spotlight that was controlling and pressuring me." Even with the small changes of lighting I've already made, my introverts are expressing a renewed sense of peace and calm while they are learning.
With donors' help, I'd love to offer this to my students on an even greater scale so they can reduce anxiety and be healthier, happier learners.
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