School with no walls....?!

Discussion in 'Elementary Education' started by 773 Miles Away, May 20, 2010.

  1. 773 Miles Away

    773 Miles Away Comrade

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    May 20, 2010

    I might be working at a new school next year and I was told that one of the schools I'm considering has that open floor plan design where you have one enormous room that has been divided into 4 classrooms. Essentially there are no walls.. just furniture.. like bookshelves etc. to create the "rooms".

    I'm imagining this to be a nightmare.... how is management of sound? What do you do if there is a disorderly classroom next to you?? I always have my door closed because I can't stand the noise outside in the hallway... even my kids ask me to shut the door when the teacher across the hall yells too loud... now how will I deal with a class with no walls?!
     
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  3. JustMe

    JustMe Virtuoso

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    Couldn't, wouldn't work in that environment...
     
  4. Bumble

    Bumble Groupie

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    I would never work in that type of school. I wouldn't want kids who don't belong in my "room" to wander in. Plus, I speak very loud.
     
  5. Blue

    Blue Aficionado

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    I suspect there are expectations of the students to wander only when acceptable, and stay where they are assigned.
     
  6. Proud2BATeacher

    Proud2BATeacher Phenom

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    My friend works in a school almost like this. Two teachers share one big room but there is a divider between the classes. Last year they decided to remove the divider and team teach. She says it works great but I am easily distracted, so I'm not sure if it would work for me.
     
  7. 773 Miles Away

    773 Miles Away Comrade

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    Figured out the official name... "open classrooms"... apparently they were all the rave back in the 70s... (no surprise I suppose.. .lol). Now it's pretty much decided that they are NOT successful... surprise surprise.

    Anybody teach in one? I read articles where they are building walls to fix the problem. Craziness...

    http://readingeagle.com/article.aspx?id=34290
     
  8. TamiJ

    TamiJ Virtuoso

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    I briefly spoke to a man many years ago who began a school similar to that. The way he made it sound, it was successful. But honestly, I can't imagine trying to teach in a school like that. Idon't know.
     
  9. JaimeMarie

    JaimeMarie Moderator

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    One of our other members Beth worked in a school like that about four years ago. She is in MA. I'll see send her this link. She can probably give you some pointers.
     
  10. honeybee123

    honeybee123 New Member

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    Not a good learning environment

    The high school that I attended was in a similar format. The students were easily distracted due to students from other classes walking around and talking. I am currently pursuing my BSED/EE (third year) and just thought I'd give you some feedback that I experienced in high school. Honestly, it was the worst environment to learn and teach for everyone involved. :dizzy:
     
  11. kcjo13

    kcjo13 Phenom

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    I observed in a school like this last year. It was hard for us as outsiders, but the kids didn't seem to mind. It wasn't nearly as bad as I thought it would be. Actually, it was probably quieter than my own school, just out of necessity.
     
  12. terptoteacher

    terptoteacher Connoisseur

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    My highschool alma mater was designed to be open.....after one year, they installed portable walls.....we used to lean against them and they would bend and move!
     
  13. Peachyness

    Peachyness Virtuoso

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    Same here. I also observed at a school with an open floor plan. THey had those office type dividers dividing up the classrooms. It was a huge, really nice building with about, oh, 15-20 classrooms. In the middle was a really nice stage. I was really impressed. The kids were working really hard and didn't seem distracted by the other classes. There was a low hum of chatter, but all in all, it actually wasn't distracting and I hate noise!

    I think it can work as long as kids are held to high expectations and everyone is on board.
     
  14. cali*teacher

    cali*teacher Companion

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    I attended two elementary schools in my youth like that, the second school was a different layout of the same idea. They had already started using the dividers at that point and it was pretty closed off to where you couldn't hear the other classes next to mine too much. The first school it was definitely open, you could look out from the classroom on both sides and across the carpeted hall to other classes in progress. It had two walls, the front of the class, and back of the class, but the sides were open. Thinking back, it was kind of strange, but didn't seem to distract us too much as a class. It was interesting listening to others teach and the class activity going around us when we were working quietly on our work.
     
  15. WaterfallLady

    WaterfallLady Enthusiast

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    I'd never be able to handle it and I don't think most of my students could either. We get distracted enough with a window.
     
  16. cutNglue

    cutNglue Magnifico

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    Even a student with a mild hearing loss would be negatively impacted by this type of environment. Sometimes we don't know this because the child may have learned coping strategies and not realized it. I have a severe-to-profound hearing loss. My dad believed I should self-advocate and since I could speak clearly and didn't have an IEP, people underestimated my hearing loss. I was thrown into a similar room one year. I don't remember anything except it was too overwhelming and I drowned. I managed to make a B by reading the textbook but it was chaotic and I hated it. I wish schools were more sensitive to noise pollution. My son's school has an open doorway between 2 classrooms. I hate this for him. There is no reason for all of this. This doesn't even consider the fact that we are now an inclusive environment and we have all kinds of disabilities that would be affected by this arrangement. I find it selfish to even consider.
     
  17. swansong1

    swansong1 Virtuoso

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    I worked in a school like that for several years. One year we had 2 noisy teachers in a pod for four classrooms. It was next to impossible to teach. They put up temporary dividers for the year after that and by the next year they installed permanent walls. The walls were thin and the noise still traveled. By the 5th year at that school I was moved to a portable...and the silence was golden!
     
  18. MissScrimmage

    MissScrimmage Aficionado

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    I guess I am missing the purpose here - what is the philosophy behind these open classrooms? Why is this a good thing? Especially if you are just going to put dividers up.

    I student taught in a school that used to be open concept - they have built walls with doors.
     
  19. stephenpe

    stephenpe Connoisseur

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    I went to a HS like that 71-73 and had no problem with it.
    Then my first year teaching (78) I was in a middle school
    with the same layout. I taught math in a huge room with 6 other teachers. I liked it. I had all those other adult eyes who could sometimes see my class. Then if I had a discipline problem I could tell Ms A next to me to keep an eye on my class while the perp got instant consequences. The bad thing was the carpet of parallel lines that made you dizzy if you looked down.
     
  20. Caesar753

    Caesar753 Multitudinous

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    The high school I student taught at had originally been designed in this way. By the time I got there, they had put up "temporary" walls to make individual classrooms. The study halls were still in an open area. Students seemed to be extremely distracted during those study halls.

    I personally wouldn't enjoy working in an environment like that, and I have no problem tuning out extraneous noise. I imagine that a student who struggles with either attention or hearing would have some difficulty.
     
  21. Tasha

    Tasha Phenom

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    My school is like this, but not my room. The kids really do get used to it, it is that way from K to 5. I like that it fosters a bigger community between the kids than just their classroom. You adjust to the noise level and teaching practices, most of the grade levels have similar schedules so that noisy activities are at the same times and quiet things are grouped together. Many of our teachers would never teach in a closed room now!
     
  22. 3Sons

    3Sons Enthusiast

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    Educational theorists sometimes come up with the most off-the-wall ideas. ;)
     
  23. Unbeknownst

    Unbeknownst Cohort

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    That's why I got jaded with theories in college.

    Give me the data where a 20-year veteran consistently churns out the most academically successful children year after year, and tell me what they are doing so I can mimic that.

    Spare me the controlled theoretical environment where your practices work using mannequins.
     
  24. skittleroo

    skittleroo Connoisseur

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    could NOT imagine teaching with my door closed - it stays open ALL day EVERY DAY. I feel too closed off to the world. I like seeing and hearing traffic go by.
     
  25. gigi

    gigi Groupie

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    I substituted in a "classroom" with no walls, one huge room divided by storage and filing cabinets. I didn't enjoy it, I don't know how the teacher does it, never mind the kids. I recently went on a job interview and and it was the same situation. I declined the position, I could not work in a huge area like that with 20 5 year old children. I did go so far as to ask if it was possible to put some temporary dividers, and well, that didn't go over either. It just wasn't for me. I like music, music, music, and classroom cheers and regular kindergarten learning noise. I would be constantly worrying about disturbing the other class.
     
  26. sue35

    sue35 Habitué

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    I also observed in an open classroom. She had rather tall bookshelves around her area but it was still obvious that it was "open". After about a week I didn't notice it anymore. None of the kids had any problems with it and I know there were kids there with ADHD, who you would think would have problems. I think that if it is done well, it could work.
     
  27. Erin Elizabeth

    Erin Elizabeth Groupie

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    My school is a former "pod" school, built in '73. Walls were built in the late 80's to divide the pods into 5 classrooms each. It made for some interesting spaces. I am glad they built the walls. Some of our veteran teachers were there when the pods were open and they said it was detrimental to student learning.
     
  28. chemteach55

    chemteach55 Connoisseur

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    I taught in a high school that was built like this. It had accordion style doors between the classrooms. We all kept the walls closed. We did catch a group of students smoking pot one day due to the movable walls. The classroom they were in, the teacher had no sense of smell and they were sitting on the floor in the back of the room working on a project. The teacher on the other side of the wall kept smelling the pot and ripped the wall open and caught them.
     
  29. Beth2004

    Beth2004 Maven

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    Thanks for letting me know, Jaime!

    My first year in my own classroom I taught third grade at a Christian school and our classrooms were in the church basement. The classrooms were made out of 6' partitions, so they weren't completely open to the rest of the rooms, but we could hear each other pefectly fine all day. I hated it. The worst part of the day was lunch because the kids ate in the classrooms and we didn't all have lunch at the same time, so trying to teach while the first and second graders were having lunch was next to impossible.

    I also used to get comments from the other third grade teacher about how I was teaching the material. He taught directly from the book (word for word from a very scripted curriculum) and I did things my way. I hated that he could hear me all day because he was so judgemental and had no problems confronting me about things that he thought I was doing wrong.
     

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