The Great Classroom Swap!

At my school, we are all about empowering students.  As a staff, we work hard to encourage student leadership, to recognize the efforts of aspiring leaders, and to nurture the qualities we want our students to take with them after they leave our care.  We listen to what they have to say. When students are given opportunities to learn responsible behaviour, they learn to become responsible.  When they’re given opportunities to be trusted, they learn to be trustworthy (thanks Maggie Colquhoun for that one).  When they are given opportunities to push the boundaries, they learn to think outside the box, to get creative, to question.

And so it made sense, mid-year, to do some rearranging…to build on what they had already mastered.  We decided to move our 4 Intermediate classrooms to one end of our school where 4 classrooms extend out onto a wide open space we call “The North Foyer”.  Students have long used the hallways of their building as learning spaces, and so to provide our older students with a dedicated space where opportunities for learning could take many more shapes and forms, with more collaborative learning opportunities, made sense to us.  Our Junior students who used to use that space are now aligned with the rest of our Junior division and are loving their new rooms.

The really cool part was the day we actually swapped classrooms.  Kudos to our custodial staff who were on hand to provide support where needed.  One of our custodians actually commented after the fact that it was really cool to see the students take ownership of the day.  They all pitched in and worked collaboratively to 1) move their desks, chairs, supplies, locker contents, teacher resources, books, tech equipment, etc., 2) set up their new rooms.

I watched kids plan the layout of their new spaces, to brainstorm together the best plans, and when they didn’t quite work the way they thought, to go back to the drawing board and try again.

It was a great day and boy are the kids happy!  One of them even asked if we could have a ribbon cutting ceremony!  And so we did.

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7 thoughts on “The Great Classroom Swap!

  1. I love reading about and seeing all the awesome things happening there!! It puts a big smile on my face… ICRPS is a real testament to the great things that kids can do when they’re given authentic leadership roles, trust and responsibility. What a happy place!!!

  2. You could change every word “student” to “teachers” in paragraph one and it still applies. What I mean is our staff are empowered to take risks in their own learning as we continue this process. Staff are encouraged to ask questions and be creative. Staff push boundaries. For that I am grateful. Kudos!

    • Hey Brian – I totally agree and really the two go hand in hand don’t they? It just makes sense to me. I mean why are we really taking risks? asking questions? learning? Not only to improve ourselves, but our teaching and our students. It’s all one big messy mix and I love it!

  3. Great post, Tracy!
    I really connect to the empowerment of students. Since teachers college and my first years of teaching, the buzz was classroom management and lists of rules. I never felt those ever worked. So I created common sense rules and I tell my students I have two rules. Trust and respect. Simple to the point and things students understand. When they feel trusted and respected for who they are, they are empowered to do great things. Do they “break” these rules? Of course, they do but those are teachable moments.

    Also, not sure if this is ironic or not, but being a student at IC was not an enjoyable time for me (This is a bit of an understatement). Funny that I am an educator now but I am so pleased to see the great and amazing things happening at that school. From that one meeting I have with Chris and yourself, has really made me think about education and how I am doing and expanding. The continued PD that I receive from the staff at IC helps me grow and learn.
    From my visit last year, it certainly has empowered me to be a better educator and makes me want to be part of the movement that IC has started. I would certainly love to be part of the staff there.

    Keep up the great work,

    Brandon Owen

    • Thanks for your kind words Brandon! Your mission now will be to take your common sense approach and all the great things you’ve learned from your fellow educators, here at ICRPS and beyond, and apply them to whatever building you’re in. Making change is an exciting thing to be part of. Good luck!!

  4. What an awesome and uplifting experience for all…as a team we have achieved more than a “conventional” lesson could ever teach….the students and teachers became united working as to move even more into the future of what learning will look like.empowering our students to not be afraid of risk taking and changes. We all can experience “positive” things when change occurs.

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