I’m so pleased with how the innovation grant impacted my classroom this year. I chose to utilize the grant towards flexible seating options for my first grade classroom. This decision totally changed the dynamic of my classroom and my teaching style to a more student-centered, independent learning environment. I chose to use the grant to purchase three hexagon-shaped standing desks with bounce bands, 10 wobble stools, and 8 student chair bounce bands. I mixed these new alternate seating choices with existing options and some normal tables and chairs.
As far as discussing the growth my students made academically, independently as learners and increasing positive behavior in my classroom…WOW! What a difference this has made!! My students immediately began showing an increase in their focus and cooperation to complete independent and group tasks/assignments. I had students with behavior problems that were constantly seeking attention in negative ways, turn their attention to earning flexible seating options by completing their work in a positive way. This quickly became a learned behavior for them and now our classroom runs much smoothly with little to no interruptions throughout the day. Because of this, all of my students are benefiting from the increased focus of the classroom as a whole and I’m able to accomplish more as a teacher, introducing concepts beyond what I typically hit in the same time frame. It’s helped me become a more effective and efficient teacher in this sense because the majority of my energy is focused on teaching, not managing behaviors.
My students are becoming independent learners at a much quicker pace and beyond what I was seeing in years past. I can contribute this accomplishment to the flexible seating choices my students have been given throughout the year. They forced me to use more peer partner group pairings as opposed to whole group teaching. This allowed the students many opportunities to teach each other and learn from the experience. This also freed me up to be more of a facilitator in the classroom, allowing the students to lead each other through learning skills and concepts after I modeled them.
Overall, I would say this experience has been a total success for myself, my students and my school as a whole. Our classroom has peeked the interest of other teachers in my building to try flexible seating as well. Our classroom gets many student visitors throughout the weeks, asking about our seats and often times earning the chance to spend a day with us with positive behavior reports. You could say we’re also improving the student behavior of our school population as well! If given the opportunity to write another grant next year, I would definitely pursue it!