One room ~ 3 classes

Discussion in 'Elementary Education' started by Rabbitt, May 20, 2017.

  1. Rabbitt

    Rabbitt Connoisseur

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    May 20, 2017

    I will be moving to a new school. There are 3 sections of grade 2 but all in one, open concept classroom. It's a ginormous, L shaped space. My 'area' is as large as a typical classroom if not larger. I am struggling with the idea of all the distractions with noise and interest in the other room's lessons. Anyone with similar open concept design have advice? I'm considering hanging door beads from the ceiling to define our space, or paper spheres, or name mobiles (hoping it's not a fire hazard).
     
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  3. Obadiah

    Obadiah Groupie

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    May 21, 2017

    My field experience and substitute teaching were in open space schools where grades 1-6 (OK, showing my age here) were all in one big room. I also began subbing in these schools. Noise was only a factor in one school because the teachers as the day wore on spoke louder and louder and louder. Unconsciously, I also began to get louder; I realized I did so after school when I had a scratchy throat! Noise was otherwise controlled by soft talking, and classroom management never involved raising one's voice (except at the above mentioned school where every 5 minutes this one teacher barked, "This is sustained SILENT reading!" The building itself was conducive to noise reduction.

    Barriers were bookshelves and cubby shelves, but students could easily see over them. The idea was to promote an inclusive rather than a secluded environment. Teachers who had taught in traditional and open spaced reported that open spaced did promote more learning especially since the students behaved better. I observed very little if any distraction, even when another class was showing a movie. I don't think the borders around each room assisted with anything, except perhaps defining where the classrooms were, which in my opinion, was also unnecessary. The students seemed quite aware that their business for the day was in that space. The overall atmosphere was that each classroom was a busy place of learning.

    I did observe that each teacher had individualized classroom demeanor and decoration, but this was confined within the classroom area itself, not around the borders. One teacher's bulletin boards included large cartoonlike characters. One teacher, during student break times, would sit on his desk and talk with groups of students. One teacher would manage her class by patiently waiting for all tables to give her their attention, and she would indicate which table was attending; this also reduced the large class to just a handful of tables. But when I'd observe the entire school at once, there was a strong uniformity, also. All teachers were highly organized in their schedules. Sorry my memory escapes me here for more specifics, but as I said, I do recall a strong uniformity among the teachers; basically a good balance between individualism and uniformity.

    Overall, I was highly impressed with open spaced classrooms.
     
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  4. Rabbitt

    Rabbitt Connoisseur

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    May 21, 2017

    This is very good to know and assuring. It just seems odd as today's classrooms are no longer is rows of silence. Thank you
     
  5. AmyMyNamey

    AmyMyNamey Comrade

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    May 21, 2017

    These designs were all the rage back in the 70's and 80's, supposedly able to promote "the free flow of ideas" or some other hippie tripe.

    I think they are accommodating for children who are well-socialized and behaved.

    That said, I've not seen such children in any public school setting. The design is antiquated, unable to accommodate the plethora of troubled children many schools serve. The design is also a HUGE security risk I hope no one ever takes advantage of. Today, classrooms need four walls and a locked door.

    Some corporations installed semi-permanent walls, and teachers further close off their space with cabinets or curtains.

    There's not much you can do for the noise, though. You raise your voice to a student, and half the building hears it!
     
    Last edited: May 21, 2017
  6. otterpop

    otterpop Aficionado

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    May 21, 2017

    Any chance you can observe for a day or part of a day before the school year gets out?

    Sounds like an interesting new endeavor. :)
     
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  7. swansong1

    swansong1 Virtuoso

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    May 21, 2017

    I have taught in that type of situation. My students developed better social skills, better manners because they had to learn how to be understanding of the other people in the room, and learned more because they had the benefit of other adults in the room. I think schools moved away from that type of classroom because teachers did not have good management skills.

    I went to college almost 40 years ago and our teacher instruction encompassed all areas of teaching...methods courses, classroom management, working with special needs, etc. I don't think teacher instruction is as good now. Based on what I read here from new teachers, and student teachers I have had, their instruction is just not as complete as it used to be. That could be why schools are moving back to more traditional classrooms (with four walls and a locked door).
     
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  8. MrsC

    MrsC Multitudinous

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    May 21, 2017

    When my son was in grade 1, his class shared a large room with another grade 1 class. Instead of fighting to divide the room into separate "classrooms", the teachers worked together to create a shared learning environment. Instead of 2 classes in one space, it was one large class with 2 teachers. Whole class lessons were taught to both classes together, with one teacher taking the teaching "lead". Two areas of the classrooms were set up for small group and guided lessons. The teachers spent a lot of time planning together and worked, over several years, to perfect their system. It worked so well, that other grades tried something similar.
     
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  9. AmyMyNamey

    AmyMyNamey Comrade

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    May 22, 2017

    Because teachers aren't as good? No, that is not why at all.

    Let's forget social decay and the devolving aspect of our nation's youth for a moment.

    Open concept buildings were created because they are cheap to build.

    Today, in our gun-obsessed, violent society, open concept buildings pose a danger to children's lives like nothing else. All open concept buildings need to be replaced with more secure structures.

    They are not being replaced because young teachers are poorly trained in classroom management.
     
  10. Obadiah

    Obadiah Groupie

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    Many successful teachers in any type of classroom raise their voice to manage classroom behavior, so I don't want to be overly critical of this method, however, I question its necessity. When it works, it's the result of conditioning, the students are conditioned to respond to a signal, a raised voice, just as Pavlov's dogs were conditioned to respond to an audible signal. If a student can be conditioned to respond to a loud signal, a student can also be conditioned to respond to a quiet signal.

    I have two major concerns about managing behavior with a raised voice. First, the students learn to also control situations with a raised voice. This is why adult discussions turn into heated arguments in which nobody actually wins; true, one side might give in to the other, but neither side is convinced of the other's argument. Neither side discovers a way to work together. This is evident in televised or radio debates where the goal seems to be who can talk louder or interrupt the most.

    My second concern is that scaring the students into behavior with a scary loud voice, often used in elementary classrooms, is teaching students that might makes right. Whoever's the biggest wins. When the teacher says, "I'm bigger than you," or "I can yell louder", students learn that power is more influential than cooperation.
     
  11. TeacherNY

    TeacherNY Phenom

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    May 22, 2017

    This seems like it would be difficult. Separating the areas with bookshelves is a good idea but I agree that the noise factor might be a problem. I guess nobody has complained so far?? How long has it been like this at the school?
     
  12. Rabbitt

    Rabbitt Connoisseur

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    I was surprised by the number of doors that only led out. That way I feel quite safe compared to my one door, no windows current room.

    I think it was built in the 70's or 80's when it was all workbooks and quiet, whole group learning.

    I just feel the space will be overwhelming without defined areas. So I'm leaning towards some beads or ribbons from the ceiling I found on Pinterest. Please some bookshelves and maybe some drawn curtains.

    I too have wondered about making it one second grade of 52 students and 3 teachers. But that just seems overwhelmingly large. We'll see.
     
  13. otterpop

    otterpop Aficionado

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    May 22, 2017

    Thinking back, my own kindergarten class was a two class classroom. It was a very large room with two teachers. We mostly stayed with our own teacher but sometimes, like for free play time, used the whole room.

    I think it's an intriguing idea. I'd like the chance to try something instructionally out of the box.
     
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  14. AmyMyNamey

    AmyMyNamey Comrade

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    May 22, 2017

    Please come out to Indianapolis and condition our students to respond to quiet voices.
     

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