Concentration broken only by the soft whispers of student questions, the fifth-graders in Hartland South Elementary School teacher Holly Albrecht’s class lounge on bean bags, perch on fabric cubes or lightly bounce on stability balls.
With the entire class studiously completing math tests, a couple of students choose to work at a table pushed to a corner during a redesign of Albrecht’s classroom. But the room’s sole desk goes abandoned.
Just changing the furniture by removing almost all of the desks and most of the chairs in her classroom has brought about changes in her students, Albrecht said, aiding concentration and providing more flexibility for how they learn. Other teachers in her school have taken notice and are planning changes of their own, budget allowing.
“The kids love it,” Albrecht said.
Although this is only a few teachers and only one school building, such moves to get rid of the traditional desk-and-chair design of an upper-elementary-grade classroom are part of a larger rethinking of the school experience.
Everything old is new again.