I was teaching social studies this morning and after my mini-lesson and instructions I released the students on ISS to read a chapter in their social studies textbook and fill in a concept wheel about the main ideas in the reading. (ISS is International Space Station: aka work in small groups or partners or individually. It is one of my classroom structures you can read more about here in my original proposal.)
I let the kids get settled and then I walked back to my desk to finish an email I had been writing before school. After I had sent it, I looked up at my classroom and I had a moment:
Looking around I realized that my classroom was working exactly as I had intended it to. The kids were spread out all around the room working and every one of my students was on task. They had all taken accountability for themselves and chosen a working spot and group that was the best for them and the way they learn. Students working with their friends (and actually working,) students working independently, sitting on the floor, standing, and everywhere in between. The volume was a perfect hum of discussing the topic. This is the reason I have my room the way it is.
Now this is obviously not always the case. We have our good days and our bad days, just like any other class. But today, in this lesson, it felt absolutely perfect. And in this moment, it made all the hassle and work of my deskless classroom entirely worth it.
Also during this lesson, I had a specific student who has a lot of friends that she usually sits by, but she has been going through some girl drama lately. She chose to sit by herself. She came up to me about halfway through the work time and said she was finished already. She was amazed at how much she was able to get done when she didn’t have her friends to distract her. I’m sure she will go back to sitting by her friends some of the time, but her realizing that on her own is awesome.