|Five out of the nine Active Learning Classrooms have the teacher station situated in the middle of the room.|
This particular classroom is spacious, and at first, I reveled in the fact that I was in the middle and could move about the room so easily. A very different experience from the classrooms I am used to. The more traditional classrooms always left me feeling stuck in one part of the room, like the rows of desks created a barrier between me and the students. Even if we rearranged the room for small groups or an activity, the fact that so many desks were packed into the rooms left very little space for accessing different parts of the classroom. So, being centrally located in the active learning classroom and having the ability to move around freely is awesome.
So it wasn't until a few weeks ago when a colleague shared his approach of standing with the class on the perimeter of the room that I even thought to pay any attention to where I locate myself when students are speaking. At the beginning of the semester, I was simply following my instinct to move closer to the student. Reflecting back, I suppose I did this as a way to acknowledge the student's contributions and, sometimes, to hear someone more clearly. I admit that I am taken aback by both the simplicity of the suggestion to stay on the perimeter and the fact that I hadn't considered how my actions or location might be impacting the classroom environment, especially as students are speaking up as part of Q&A sessions or whole-class discussions.
I am grateful that a fellow instructor shared this insight with me while there is still time left to try it out this semester, so I am now sharing the tip with all of you. The freedom to stand with the class when someone is speaking is now one of my favorite things about the active learning classroom.