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Do Students Enjoy Change or Routine?

Today I changed the seating arrangement in my classroom, and split it down the middle with  students facing each other, forming a kind of  wide U.  I decided to do this after a conversation I had about building community and creating good classroom space. But also I thought to myself 'we are in the third quarter now, maybe the students would like some change, something different may perhaps wake them up and reconnect them to what we're doing.'I wish I had recorded their reactions! Every time a student walked in and saw the room, the first thing they asked was why, then there was confusion in their faces as they tried to figure out the new seating chart, then a bunch of I like this'' or 'I don't like this', finally, one student yells out "I don't like change, can we go back to the way it was before?"This really made me think do they prefer the routine? Don't they get bored if we do the same thing every day? Are they more comfortable when they are bored at school? How dare I try to make high school fun? I felt that I was breaking some kind of sacred code by forcing them to sit in a less  structured and more social setting. I should tell you that I teach religion and today I decided that, despite all the complaining I had a much livelier class than I usually encounter, it seems I finally broke through the 'so what' attitude. One way or another, they really cared that I changed the seating arrangement, why I did so, and you could see in their faces a certain expectancy about what would I do next. Well I tell you that next week there will be no lecture, no PowerPoint, no discussion, instead we're going to be on YouTube, and calling it religion class videocast, and they are going to do all the talking. I don't know if they like change but it is about time it happened.

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Comment by Carmen on February 28, 2011 at 1:00am
Good point Kaitlyn, although mine are older still junior year of H.S. is tough with College hanging over them, maybe that's why the want to keep things the same as much as possible. Still, I think they get too complacent if we don't shake them up a bit once in a while.
Comment by Kaitlyn Martin on February 28, 2011 at 12:55am
I have the same issue with my students. They have minor meltdowns when I rearrange the desks or introduce a new procedure, but eventually, they calm down. It's interesting though--I have always said that middle school students thrive under a bit of structure and consistency because everything else about them is changing at that stage!
Comment by Carmen on February 27, 2011 at 2:04pm
Denise, I just did this on Friday but I'm planning on keeping them this way, they are too heavy for me to re-arrange every week! Plus whenever I change them I have to change the seating chart in the attendance program. My idea is to move towards a more project based learning and less lectures!
Comment by Denise Mathews on February 27, 2011 at 6:57am
I like what you did with your classroom set up and the reason behind it.  It seems like the setup would build a feeling of community and create a good classroom space for your students. How long did you keep your classroom seating arrangement?  It must have been interesting to hear their responses.  I often use one big U for discussions in my 6th and 7th grade classes. Depending on my lesson plans for the week, I try to change my seating arrangement (at least every two weeks) just to keep classroom setting interesting.  Initially, not all kids are in favor of my seating change. Whenever I would change my sitting arrangements, students would always say the same thing, "Why did you move the desks around?"  However, now students actually look forward to the classroom and seeing what changes are made in the classroom.
Comment by Ellen Petra on February 27, 2011 at 2:21am
I teach at a small private school and so my classes are quite small as well.  I let my 11th and 12th graders sit wherever they want, but they all tend to gravitate toward the same seats.  I've had some of them for almost two years and they keep returning to the same seats.  They have become very attached to their seats and are surprised when a visitor takes their spot.  Change is good...I'l have to change things up in my classroom.
Comment by Janey Nolan on February 26, 2011 at 3:30am

I just love this idea. What a brave thing to do and i can see you are looking forward to how it can be.




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