Friday, February 22, 2013

Proximity and Movement

Are You Stuck At The Desk?

I've been asked about my vision of schools and classrooms of the future several times over the past couple years.  Each time I answer this question a few things always come out:

1) Student Engagement

2) Technology

3) Individual Pathways

4) Open Classroom Environment

5) Cheerful, Inviting Atmosphere

6) Teachers facilitating and moving from student to student or group to group

This week I want to focus on #6, or more specifically teacher movement and proximity.  My belief and philosophy is that this is a critical teaching piece that sometimes gets overlooked and "de"- emphasized.  This is why it should not.

My first couple of years teaching I had a teacher desk and I constantly rotated my classroom configuration around.  I was always in pursuit of the magic potion!  I thought I could simple change the setup/desks and my behavior issues would vanish.  I tried rows, groups, you name it, I tried it.  What I learned in this process is that groups worked best for me, and it allowed me the freedom to move.    

During my third year of teaching I took a class at Spring Arbor University and the graduate professor absolutely captured me.  He was dynamic, energetic and engaging.  I watched him week after week and I thought to myself, this is how I need to teach!  So this is what I did, I began to avoid my desk.  I began moving about the room on a constant basis.  I taught in the back of the room, on the side of the room, in the middle of the room.  There was no set place I always taught from.  As I increased my movement, I found my energy level increased and I had a "jump" in my step.  This excited me, I began to express my joy and enthusiasm for teaching.  I was becoming the engaging, dynamic teacher I knew I could be.

As all this happened I noticed a significant trend.  My behavior issues drastically dropped.  My use of teacher/student movement was working wonders.  My proximity to students significantly helped with student engagement.  I loved what I was doing.  Day in and day out my students were learning, behaving and growing.  I loved my job!  I felt as though I owed a lot of my style and philosophy to my Spring Arbor University Graduate Class Professor (his first name was Tim).  Tim transformed my teaching.

As I reflect on these moments I think of how Proximity and Movement impact a classroom.  First, I believe wholeheartedly that teacher movement is essential.  Second, I believe teachers that utilize proximity will increase engagement and decrease classroom misbehaviors.  If you want more proof check out this article :  Effective Room Arrangement , by Dr. Fred Jones, in this article the author points to three zones. (see below)

As I reflect on my own schooling, I can visualize the teachers that were "stuck" at the desk.  My advice, don't let this happen to you.  So this week's big questions, do you find that proximity helps your classroom management?  Does frequent teacher movement/rotation throughout the room increase energy and enthusiasm?  What's more important, the classroom configuration or teacher proximity and movement?

Next Week at a Glance:

Tuesday, February 26th:  TEAM meeting at 9am
Tuesday, February 26th:  String Team 4pm
Wednesday, February 27th:  Grades 3-5 assembly
Wednesday, February 27th:  2:45 mandatory PLC meeting in Library (bring your iPad and install Skype app)
Wednesday, February 27th:  6:30 February Board Meeting
Thursday, February 28th:  Ben is visiting Stockbridge El. to observe Project Based Learning
Thursday, February 28th/29th:  Happy Birthday to Nancy Bunker and Deanna Struck
Friday, March 1st:  Carnival in the Middle School!

Articles Worth Your Time:

Has the Principal job become too much?   shared by @NLHSprincipal

The next trend in schools?  shared by @KleinErin

Supporting Students with Autism  shared by @behaviordoctor

iPad iNformation:

Videos Worth Watching:

This is one cool 3rd grade Science Project! (4 min)

Inspiring Video of the Sports Illustrated, Kids of the Year!  (5 min)  (Worth Your Time!)

How does a Town get its name?  (4 min)  
One of my favorite websites  (check it out)

I laugh at this every time! (20 seconds)

9 year old weatherman on the Ellen show! (6 min)

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