A different setting

Story by Anna Grace Jones, staff writer

Stepping into a conventional classroom provides students with a plethora of emotions. Some see the rows or groups of desks and chairs and feel anxiety; others find the consistency and organization to be comforting. However, when a student enters a classroom full of patio furniture, bean bag chairs and several pillows, a different attitude arises.

Sophomore English teacher Rachel Wyatt implemented an alternative seating method in her classroom this year.

“[Alternative seating] provides choice, comfort and automatically gives a different atmosphere and message when they walk in the room,” Wyatt said. “Being in pods or stations automatically sets up for [student collaboration] versus a teacher behind a podium at the front of a room, and I think that message carries over when they walk in.”

Wyatt found her inspiration for this approach during work with a younger age group.

“When I was in administration, that was a really big deal at the younger levels. Having them sit somewhere besides desks or tables was a big deal. There was a lot of research to back it up that it created an environment where everybody could talk more, collaborate more, and learn from each other more, even with the older kids,” Wyatt said. “I thought there is no way there’s not research for the older kids, so I looked and there was all kinds of research, usually at lots of the schools up north. I don’t know why we haven’t tried it down here.”

By replacing the traditional classroom arrangement, Wyatt hopes to create a comfortable learning atmosphere that promotes communication between students.

“I think for the most part they have enjoyed it. They like the choice,” Wyatt said. “There’s nothing wrong with a little bit of comfort, and then it automatically creates the environment where they know I expect them to collaborate.”

Wyatt believes introducing this arrangement into her classroom will better prepare her students for the correspondence that will be expected of them in prospective career paths.

“The world is collaborating. The world is all of a sudden shrunk because of the Internet, and if we don’t know how to collaborate, if we don’t know how to work together, if we don’t know how to talk about things, if we don’t know how to think through things together, then y’all are not going be prepared for the work force,” Wyatt said. “We are no longer preparing our students for the assembly line. That is age old. We are preparing them to work together now.”

Students seem to appreciate the different setup and believe it will be beneficial to the environment.

“I really like the new seating program because it makes everyone feel comfortable and more relaxed, so that you’re not stressed out about doing work,” sophomore Emma Lindsay said. “I think that if you’re uncomfortable in class then it’s hard to do school work.”

Wyatt is confident in her alternative seating method and hopes to see it catch across campus.

“I think it’s going to work. I really do,” Wyatt said. “If it creates the environment that the kids enjoy walking in here, and they will collaborate more and it’s a comfortable place for them, then why not?”