Pros and cons of teaching in an open-space classroom?? HELP!

Discussion in 'General Education' started by teacher_cc, Jun 17, 2008.

  1. teacher_cc

    teacher_cc Rookie

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    I had the opportunity to interview at an open-space school (no walls in classroom). I liked EVERYTHING the school had to offer, in addition to the principals mission and vision for the school, which is important! However, I'm a new teacher, this may be my first classroom; I'm a little nervous because I'm so used to the traditional classroom. My student teaching and long-term subbing was in a traditional classroom setting.

    What can anyone tell me about the open classroom type of teaching environment?? THANKS!
     
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  3. peachieteachie

    peachieteachie Comrade

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    I have never taught in an open classroom before, but I know people who have. Some love it and others hate it. I think the noise would bother me, but I'm a little ADD. I get SO easily distracted, but this can happen in a regular classroom as well.
     
  4. Calalilys

    Calalilys Comrade

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    My only concern would be the noise from the other classes and my students being distracted by what is going on in the other "rooms." Did the principal explain why the school was built like this? I would be curious to hear the reason why.
     
  5. Erin Elizabeth

    Erin Elizabeth Groupie

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    My school was built as an open school but was converted into separate classrooms in the early 90's. As a result, all of our rooms are strange in size and shape, but all the teachers who are still working here like having traditional rooms rather than the open areas. The most universal complaint was the noise.
     
  6. lou reed

    lou reed Companion

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    Mine's psuedo-open (quads that are separated by two sink areas, but we have, like, walls and hallway doors and junk.) The noise can be a little distracting, but not nearly as bad as I thought it would be.

    How can a room not have walls? Is it a giant room with just tables and desks? How do you lock down? I'm confused!
     
  7. teacher_cc

    teacher_cc Rookie

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    Each grade is seperated into Pods, each pod has like four 3rd grade classes and the classes are seperated by these tall dividers.
     
  8. SSA

    SSA Companion

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    Jun 17, 2008

    The "Open classroom" is a relic of an educational trend from the 70s. Basically a lot of people thought that the one room schoolhouse was a better model than all of these discrete classrooms with discrete grade levels that don't interact.

    As others have mentioned the most obvious drawback is the disruptions from another classroom. This reason alone was why so many school districts remodeled schools with open classrooms back in the late 80s early 90s to build walls to separate the classrooms. As a compromise to those teachers who liked it they usually installed a door that allowed easy exchange of students with adjacent classrooms without the kids going outside. I haven't heard of any new schools being designed with open classrooms in at least a decade if not more although someone might correct me on this.

    Wikipedia has an article on the Open Classroom movement:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Open_classroom

    Furthermore, most major universities with schools of education will have several books in their libraries that cover the Open Classroom movement and the arguments of the supporters for those who have more than a passing interest in the topic.
     
  9. emmakate218

    emmakate218 Connoisseur

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    I have a friend that teaches in an open-concept school and she has often told me stories of how difficult it is to teach in such an environment. She attended the district so she was prepared for the open-concept setting so she knew what she was getting herself into. She mentioned to me that when the upper grades take the state test, every class that isn't testing has to read all day. There cannot be any sound whatsoever so she can't even read to them, they must read by themselves. I don't even know what the school would do with pre-k, kinder, and first since they are so young and harder to keep quiet. They more than likely go on field trips those days.
     
  10. Trice2006

    Trice2006 Rookie

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    I teach in an open space school. We have dividers that divides the classroom, but before then, they used bookcases as walls. So you can actually see into someone's class. At times it can be difficult when other classes are very loud. I just use it as an example and tell my students that is not how you should act in school. The group I had this year were horrible last year. So when the 3rd class across from me would get loud, I would tell them how much they have grown because that's how loud they would be. And kids are funny because some of them would shake their heads of disapproval of the behaviors of the 3rd grade classrooms.

    I guess it is just something you have to get use to.
     
  11. lou reed

    lou reed Companion

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    I want to see pictures of what this looks like!

    How do you do things like music or PE? What happens if you're missing a student? Is there a separate space for the lunch room? I've ever heard of open-space before, now I'm really curious.
     
  12. Trice2006

    Trice2006 Rookie

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    The funny thing about it the lunch, music, p.e., art, and science rooms are in enclosed rooms, its just the classrooms and the library that are opened.

    Now that I think about it the older high schools were the same way, but the dividers that they had went all the way up to the ceiling. I can remember my government teacher combining our class with the class next door, by just opening up the divider wall. The schools that they are building are not open spaced.
     
  13. MsWK

    MsWK Habitué

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    This is ridiculous, and the reason why open concept doesn't work in all situations.

    I have a very small school (40 children), and we have a semi-open space (lots of half-doors, pass-throughs, and windows). I love it because it encourages interaction and a sense of community. I almost wish it were a bit more open.

    However, I'm not fool enough to think it would work in all environments.
     
  14. Tasha

    Tasha Phenom

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    Jun 17, 2008

    I am in an open concept school too. We have tall dividers and bookshelves that block off each room and each grade level has walls between it an the other grade levels. One of the things that helps is for all of the grade level to have center (noisier) times at the same time. I think that it encourages kids to expand their view of their world outside of their own classroom and builds a sense that they are part of a bigger community. Team teachers really seem to like it because they can easily rearrange students quickly and efficiently for each subject when they need to and makes for more interactive grouping. It is difficult during testing, but not to the extreme that the teacher isn't allowed to talk all day. We do try to watch a movie on testing afternoons and to have relaxed days so that we aren't adding to the stress/noise of the school. Our PE, music, and computer rooms are closed rooms with regular walls. My district actually has 2 open concpet schools and they don't look that much alike. They evolve with prinipals and teachers into a special routine that works for that school. Also, students (parents) have the option to choose another school that is closed concept without any questions.
     
  15. EMonkey

    EMonkey Connoisseur

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    I went to school in an open space school for a year. The room was very large. It was divided in half and the two teachers team taught some of the time. The wall between the two was mobile. There were around 50 children in the class. Every three months the children would trade rooms and teachers. There were 25 or so children in each of the two groups of students. I really enjoyed it. I don't remember being distracted by the other group of students, but it was a large room.

    I also taught in a school that had open space for a year. The management was not done like my grade school. Each room was a seperate room with seperate teachers. I found it could get noisy but was not as bad as I was thinking it would be. It also encouraged me to be more diligent about keeping the class noise down than I find I am when not in that situation.
     
  16. teach_each1

    teach_each1 Comrade

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    Jun 17, 2008

    I have my pics on my other computer but I teach in an open school. Each grade level is enclosed so imagine one large room divided into 4 classrooms.

    For it to work well you really have to teach as a unit. We plan our days so that we are all teaching quieter subjects at the same time. It is somewhat difficult b/c my philosophy is a more interactive-game-get out of your seat and move philosophy but I also understand and respect the pod unit.

    One plus is that because we are literally all teaching together we come off (and are) an incredibly united teaching unit. We don't have the problems of the students saying, "Mrs. So and So said this..."

    If I was listening for the noise then I heard it but most of the time it just became white noise.

    Standardized testing-even when my class finished first they had to continue reading quietly until the entire pod finished :( But-by the time they get to me (4th) they know the expectation.
     
  17. Darkhorse

    Darkhorse Companion

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    Jun 18, 2008

    I teach at a semi open concept school and it is brand new. Ours is semi open because the classrooms are off of the pod/common area and have basically three and a half walls. Then, instead of a door there is a large doorway. This means that we are partially separated from the other classrooms.

    The noise can be a problem at times, but for the most part we try to respect the other people in the building. The worst part for me is that we are an urban school and we have had to do lockdowns and of course lockdown drills. We have to get the kids together and huddle silently in a corner of the room to pretend that we aren't there. I always worry that we will have a serious problem someday and we will be in big trouble. There are doors to each wing that can lock, but if someone gets into a wing, there is no way to get out.
     
  18. wildcat82

    wildcat82 Rookie

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    Here is a little memo from someone who spent 1, 2, and 3rd grades in an open concept classroom. Much of the main idea upon an open concept is to train children to be able to block out surrounding noises and distractions and stay focused on their own work...much like the business world of today.

    I, however, ended up being a teacher and not working in the business world and the effects of that environment have continued to haunt me. First of all, if I am looking at a menu, watching something across the room, or focusing on anything (important or not), don't even try to get my attention because I will not listen or even know that you are talking to me unless you physically tap my shoulder. My husband literally has to get grab my hand at the grocery store if I am trying to make a decision on an item...and this comes after he said my name at least 10 times. I am now 25 years old and 17 years later, the open concept classroom proves to have worked...but has not helped me since I NEED to listen to everything around me, NOT block it out. I also have fond memories of taking a spelling test and glancing across to the classroom next to me and seeing all the words written on the board...very nice. If our school as a whole got too loud, a siren would go off and we would all have to quiet down. Stupid.

    As far teaching at one, you need to remember that it is totally do-able...especially if its your only job offer, but remember that your classroom must remain very structured, quiet, and non-distruptive. Remember anyone can see your entire room at anytime so you must have outstanding classroom management and keep very clean and organized. You can't play musical games or activities that may distract those around you. However, on a normal day to day basis, I am sure you could make it work just fine, but I just wanted to share some of my experiences since they were first hand! Good luck!
     
  19. emmyblemmy

    emmyblemmy Companion

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    Wow! I've never heard of this either. It sounds bizarre and somewhat counterproductive due to noise and other distractions.
     
  20. bonneb

    bonneb Fanatic

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    You can do it! Once you get into it, you will forget that it is an open room.
     
  21. teacher_cc

    teacher_cc Rookie

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    Thanks! I hope so, it seems from all the posts I've received that after awhile I will get used to it, but it may be difficult if another teacher or myself is lacking good classroom management. Either way, it will be good experience to try and teach in this kind of setting.
     
  22. Historyteaching

    Historyteaching Cohort

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    Jun 22, 2008

    RUN!
    I taught not in complete open space, but where I had 3 rooms around me divided by drywall...there were 2 ways to get to my room 1. through one history teachers room (who didn't have a door) or 2. through a science room (no door) and another history room (he had two doors). I had 3 doors in my room and the history teacher beside me had to go out her door into my room (sometimes during class) into the other room and out. I heard 3 other classes going on at the same time-when my students were taking a test, others may not and we could hear everything that went on, some students were distracted. We were VERY thankful when the remodeling was completed. This school has had this type of classroom layout for over 30 years. Apparently the upstairs was worse than the downstairs, students had to go through multiple rooms made up of drywall walls, some ceilings and very few doors. Just my opinion...
     

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