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Flexibility is not just a tulip chair

Not so long ago, when I was told about a “flexible classroom,” I imagined a classroom filled with balloons, high tables and tulip chairs. I imagined a class where the student could choose his seat. It ended there.

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Not so long ago, when I was told about a “flexible classroom,” I imagined a classroom filled with balloons, high tables and tulip chairs. I imagined a class where the student could choose his seat. It ended there. 

Thanks to Marius Bourgeoys and his article The "flexible" class? and at the CréaCamp in Neufchâtel, my vision has evolved and I realized that it is in my very teaching that I can demonstrate more and more flexibility, even though I have no such furniture!

What is flexibility in teaching?

As mentioned Nancy Guerette, facilitator during our workshop at CréaCamp, flexibility comes from the fact that we accept to lose control of our class to promote student learning. A loss of control from the point of view of learning and not from the point of view of classroom management. We were offered a model whereby the teacher lets go of the teaching method in order to allow the student to build his own knowledge using the methods of his choice (which can however be modeled!) .  

What is the role of the teacher then? That of guide, companion and spectator. Let's give our students the necessary resources, but let them draw on them. Let's follow them in their learning so that they stay on the right track and be proud when they surprise us and learn by themselves. Flexibility is about design, not furniture in the classroom. 

Concretely, how to get there?

First of all, it is relevant to favor the collaboration students. Placing desks in islands, creating discussion circles or even letting several students settle in another room or in a corner of the class so that they can discuss and develop together are good examples of flexibility. However, it is important to know that letting students create and learn together is noisy. If you're a fan of a quiet class, now's a great time to create a new comfort zone in the discomfort!

Then, it can be interesting to integrate into your teaching work plans. In order to set up a functional plan, it is important to target the skills and learning related to the program and the progression proposed by the government. Do not be afraid to tell the students what we want them to develop and what they will be evaluated on, if they will be. Transparency is a valuable attitude to develop, as it is then easier to see whether the students have learned or not. They understand the jargon more than you think! For the resources to be included, let's think about students in difficulty, those who are stronger and those in the average in order to cover the greatest range of possible types of learning. Ideally, we try that the majority can achieve the objectives!

For my part, taking inspiration from Nancy Guérette, I developed a work plan in which I insert the learning objectives present in the progression of learning as well as those that I set myself. In the column following that of the objectives, I list the resources. Students then record their learning (notes) in the form of sketchnote or even a diagram on the medium of their choice (application or paper). This approach guides them towards an evaluation representative of the knowledge they have acquired. 

Lately let creativity students to work for the benefit of their learning. Offer them multiple platforms, apps, places to work, and materials. For example, Nancy told us that she allowed the students to write on the desks, in the windows, on the blackboard and even on the walls using erasable pens. The more space they have to create, develop, the more they take. If you think more about the techno side, imposing applications can hinder the deployment of creativity. Digital tools should be a path and not an end, so giving the student the freedom to choose what he is most comfortable with is a good way to make him independent!

The last piece of advice I would like to give you is to go at your own pace and with what looks like you. Flexibility is not demonstrated in the same way for every teacher, in every classroom. Don't compare yourself, be proud of yourself!

Want to know more about the flexible class? Carrefour education offers you its flexible planning guide.

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About the Author

Laurie Couture
Laurie Couture
A high school French teacher and contributor to various blogs, Laurie Couture is passionate about writing and for the innovative aspect of education: how can you change your ways of doing things to improve your method? She loves to discover, discuss and develop about convincing practices related to technologies. Using digital technology, she aspires to set up projects and documents responding to current trends and proposing new approaches.

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