This post is the first in a series of three posts focusing on the characteristics of a perfect classroom
What are the characteristics of my dream classroom?
After seven years of classroom teaching, I developed a rather simple answer and it had nothing to do with the classroom itself: motivated, coachable students. With students who thirst for knowledge, I believe I can lead them to some sort of success in any classroom with any medium, resource, or material. Nevertheless, this simple answer fell short because there is a significant difference between each student finding some sort of success in a classroom and each student maximizing his or her potential in a classroom. The latter is dependent on the characteristics of the learning environment.
As a teacher and football coach, I operate under the theory that every second matters. Therefore, I must develop and refine the answer to identify the characteristics of a classroom that will lead each student to his or her maximum potential by effectively using their time and effort. As the facilitator of instruction, I must utilize class time wisely to create opportunities for students to experience real life situations in order to develop the skills they will need to possess in the workplace.
As I reflect on my experiences in the workplace, I only now fully understand why our students need to be well-rounded and taught a diverse skill set. Most employers establish a wide range of responsibilities in job descriptions and offer letters that highlight the need for the next generation of workers to be versatile. This demand for versatility drives the characteristics of my vision for my dream classroom.
The vision centers on versatility. The learning space must be adaptable for a variety of activities. These activities would simulate experiences from the modern workplace. The modern workplace has radically changed with technology. It has employees work individually and collaboratively in small teams and larger groups. At times, employees work alone at their desk; other times, they work remotely or virtually on Skype and Go to Meeting; and then, there are times when they work around a video conference table or at a networking event.
The first characteristic of my dream classroom would ensure the versatility of the physical space. In my last classroom, the size of the room and the type of furniture were such limiting factors that I did not have the ability to create most of these realistic learning experiences. The first characteristic of my dream classroom eliminates this issue. The learning space needs to be transformable for these authentic activities. Once I have a physical space that centers on versatility, I can start to dream of the hardware and software in my classroom. Those dreams can be found in Part 2.