Layout – Creating Focal Points in Classrooms
The notion that primary school teachers teach from the front of the room or from their desk is considered to be outdated. Teachers now constantly move around the room working with pupils who are organised in a variety of ways. Teachers need equipment and solutions that help them teach from whichever point they happen to be in the classroom at any given time.
Many schools have removed the teacher’s desk altogether whilst others have a small table with a lockable pedestal to store resources. While not long ago this small table also served as a location for the laptop or desktop computer which ‘drove’ the interactive white board, now more mobile solutions have freed up space further. This strategy also frees up teachers to plan and mark where they like; being able to take their mobile device with them allows them to work across any part of the school.
With the advent of iPads and other tablets and laptops, staff are simply using robust WiFi to drive the presentation screen through Apple TV or similar. They no longer need to be physically connected to one point in the classroom. The teacher or pupil can be located anywhere in the room and teach or share work using the presentation screen. This technology also allows them to take a picture or video of a student’s work, and instantly share it with the class. Pupils using tablets can also present their work from their tables in the same way.
As pupils take greater control of their learning in self-directed activity, and teachers facilitate small group collaborative activities, there is a less frequent demand for teachers to be positioned at the front of the room as the ‘sage on the stage’. This means pupil focus is often directed towards their peers, or to the work at hand in front of them, rather than the centre front of the classroom.
Teachers therefore become more mobile and must adapt their teaching style appropriately. For example, they may need to quickly gain the attention of a small group at the ‘back’ of the room, and draw out key concepts to support their learning. With whiteboard panels or specialist wall paint at strategic wall points around the room, a teacher can quickly write up the required information at the group’s location, and move on to supporting another group at another location in the room. A range of whiteboards at strategic points and heights on walls can also be more inclusive for wheelchair users and those with sight issues.