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Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Test Lab for New and Innovative School Furniture...PART 1

A few days before the 2015-16 school year started, my principal called me into his office.  In my mind, I figured he wanted to talk about the previous year's test scores...or something to that nature.  Boy was I WRONG!!!!  Needless to say.....I think I walked out of his office looking like Taylor Swift when she wins an award!
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Imagine your principal saying that you have been picked to test out new and innovative school furniture....  What would you say? What would you do?  

Honestly..... I thought my principal was joking!  This is not a question most teachers are ever asked in their entire teaching career.   I don't know about you, but I just get super excited over a new pack of pencils or Papermate grading pens.....My brain can't even fathom new furniture---basically a brand new classroom!!!!  It is every teacher's dream to have new, ground-breaking furniture.  I can't think of a single teacher that would say "no" to this opportunity!  And this year, I get to experience this amazing opportunity.  It honestly feels like I won the jackpot!  By accepting this amazing opportunity, I have to understand that this is going to be a year-long process.  I also need to be willing to invest time outside of my classroom and workload to work with School Outfitters.  Needless to say.... I ACCEPTED!

A local company in my area, called School Outfitters, approached my district, last summer, looking for teachers that would be willing to transform their classrooms to test out 21st century furniture.  Since 1998, School Outfitters has provided convenient online shopping and expert customer service support to educators looking to create productive learning environments for all types of learners.


Next, I met with a panel of employees from School Outfitters.  These members included the sourcing and supply chain VP, sourcing director, sourcing coordinator, and designer.  Our initial meeting in September is where I explained and discussed the biggest obstacles (classroom furniture and design) I currently face while teaching.  I discussed what I like about my classroom/furniture and what could be more efficient or systematic. I explained my need of an easier flow from whole group instruction to station rotations.  I mentioned that I would like a place where I can store my stations that will make it easier for students to access. I also described the amount of space that is not utilized due to large pieces of furniture (I am so thankful to have 25 Chromebooks in my classroom, but the cart where they are stored takes up so much space).   Plus, I currently have to stand in the back of my classroom when using my Elmo Machine (which means my students' backs are to me as they look at the whiteboard).    My kidney-shaped table, again, is so large that I almost have to lay on the table to read closely with my small guided reading group.  (This is only a few of the things I talked about during this meeting......I could go on and on.....)

In October, a team from School Outfitters came to take measurements of  my classroom.  And I mean measurements of EVERYTHING!  From my chalkboards..... to the area where my students place their bookbags..... to my teacher storage area...... to my window ledges.  A few days later, one of the source coordinators observed my classroom for about two hours.  She took notes about everything she saw (notes on what I did and what my students did).

Afterwards, I was asked to send them a quick sketch, or layout, of what I would want my classroom to look like in the end.  OH MY----this was SOOOOO hard.  I was told that it just needed to be a rough sketch....just an idea.....BUT-seriously?!?-I have never had the opportunity to come up with what my ideal classroom.  I took this task very seriously.....maybe too seriously.... Here's what I came  up with (please keep in mind that this was very difficult and I have already thought of ways to change it!):
Between all the meetings and emails, School Outfitters also brought me furniture to try out in my classroom.  I was brought four different types of  chairs and two different kinds of desks.  My students have used these products for almost two months.  Check out my pictures below and let me know what you think.  Would you find these chairs or desks to be useful?  Have you used anything like these in your classroom?

Stay tuned....... I will keep you up-to-date with my classroom transformation.  What is something you would want for your classroom if you had the opportunity???


8 comments:

  1. Wow!!! I knew about this but reading it just really puts it into perspective! What an opportunity! To have furniture that actually helps you work more efficiently! Wow!! All teachers would benefit from such an opportunity!
    Em
    Curious firsties

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    Replies
    1. Thanks! I can't wait to see how it will turn out and affect my students!

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  2. Did you get to try out any of those desk that you can stand at?

    Jessica
    www.literacyspark.com

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    Replies
    1. A month or so ago, I spoke with the designer about a standing desk. He is in the process of designing one right now!

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  3. What an awesome opportunity! I can't wait to hear more about it. I have a couple wobble seats, and my kids love them. I like the different shapes of desks; it seems that it would lead to a variety of room arrangements.

    Amanda
    A Very Curious Class

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    Replies
    1. I love how the boomerang and hex desks can form a circle or u-shape. The wobble chair and the rocker have been a hit for certain students in my classroom!

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  4. I know exactly what you are talking about when you say you have to pretty much lay on the table to get to the kids during guided reading! I have the same problem.
    My students sit on yoga balls instead of chairs. The same kids that always fall out of their chair, never fall off a yoga ball.

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  5. I love the collaborative desks! The blue stools look like they'd be great for wigglers, too :)

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