Who Owns the Learning Space?

Via Melanie Farrell, NCPDK Emerging Leader
The current trend in education is to ask students to take ownership of their learning. Can that be done in a traditional classroom setting? Today I watched a student do everything but sit in his chair. For the first ten minutes of class, he sat with his legs sprawled. He moved and squirmed in his seat. He was easily distracted and he easily distracted others. As the lesson progressed, he slowly slithered out of his chair. His learning space took form and his learning began; he engaged. No longer was his chair a place of comfort to him. It had become an obstacle. Once he knew he didn’t have to be confined to the conventional learning space, his work flourished and his creativity was unleashed. He stood, he moved, he kneeled. Periodically, he was reminded the chair was near by when he briefly brushed against it, but he never returned to the sitting position during that lesson. Once this student was able to be free of his confinement, he was able to learn in his newfound space. 

Watching this student transform his space before my eyes, I was reminded that all students have different needs when it comes to their optimal learning space. As we try not to deliver a one size fits all lesson, we should also keep in mind that a one size fits all environment does not always work either. If we want students to choose the best learning environment to fit their learning needs, we need to provide them with choices. Here are a few things to consider:
Desks and chairs can still be a good option. Keep them.

Tall tables against a wall. Create an area for students to stand and work. 

Bean bag type chairs offer flexibility. They can be moved to different places in the room.

Rugs. Sitting/laying on the floor provides open space for collaboration.
Sometimes just a few small changes in a student’s environment can open up doors to their learning.
As I watched him become an active learner, I was reminded of the need for student ownership, not only in their learning but their learning space.
If we are going to urge teachers to ask themselves, “Who owns the learning?” I say let’s take it one step further and ask, “Who owns the learning space?”


It All Begins With A Smile

How will this apply to the work you do with our children?

Melissa Nixon

After an especially challenging and emotional week, I found this in my Twitter feed.


The message within made me smile. Not only should we smile, and help others to find their smile, but acknowledging the power of touch and personal connection as REAL factors that affect us every day.

I won’t say I’m the best at giving, but can definitely say with conviction that emotional energy, that kind that is found in a kind and caring statement a friendly hug, an empathetic smile, an acknowledgement that I add value to a situation or someone’s life IS one of the most powerful forces affecting how I approach each day.

Days that are absent of this are difficult. Simply put. I understand too that giving to others is fulfilling in itself. My emotional cup though, still requires a lot of input before I can easily provide for others.

I accept your challenge…

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Your Plate is Full…so what?

Leading the Way

Over the past several years, one thing I have learned is that in education, our plates aren’t just full for a minute, they STAY full. New initiatives, new personnel, new mandates. Couple that with ongoing expectations for timelines, observations, and timely responses to parents, our plates are FULL. Learning to compartmentalize and prioritize all of goals, strategies, and associated tasks allows us to make slow but steady progress each day. We must learn and accept that priorities must be kept in sync and that the work will be there when we return the next day. It is MUCH easier to type these words tonight than it is to follow them each day. I am an achiever, a do-er, a check the box off kind of gal. Working to keep that which is truly important in the grand scheme of life is an extremely challenging task for me. Please know that…

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Learning IS Personal

Leading the Way

Learning is personal. Teaching occurs independent of learning. As someone who considers herself a life-long learner, it has taken a long time to be able to articulate that fact. I have been a part of many different learning experiences over the years from the traditional classrooms of yester-year, to “Professional Development” as a teacher and principal, to the work required to obtain a terminal degree. However, it was just recently that I began to understand the impact of that statement.

There is a lot of chatter around the phrase “personalized learning”. But have we truly taken the time necessary to understand what efforts are needed to make learning personal? Many have connected the term “personalized learning” with differentiated instruction and/or electronic devices. Personalized learning does certainly incorporate the tenets of differentiated instruction, BUT, it is not JUST differentiation or the use of a tablet within a lesson. Learning that is…

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