By Tierra Harris| Reporter
Until now, you would have thought that the words comfort and classroom couldn’t be used in the same sentence. In room A201, Japanese teacher Mrs. Amanda Ramirez has finally made that possible.
Mrs. Ramirez and her students have tried a new classroom set up this year and the idea just may spark the interest of other teachers throughout Avon High School.
“I got the idea by basically looking at the number of students that I would have in my classroom and the space that we have,” Mrs. Ramirez said. “I was trying to think of ways to basically keep students engaged, but also get rid of all the bulky furniture.”
Being a Japanese class, you’d already expect to see eccentric anime and posters of the infamous Godzilla, but the dozens of bean bags and colorful rugs around the classroom boldly state that the class is more than just for learning.
“My students, that I’ve had before, have been really excited about it just because it kind of fits the way my classroom works anyway,” Mrs. Ramirez said.
Mrs. Ramirez came across the idea from schools in Albemarle County, Virginia that have been practicing flexible classrooms K-12. There was a connection between test scores and personalized seating, so, Mrs. Ramirez decided to give it a chance.
“The seating arrangement allows for much more movement or doing different activities that require movement,” Mrs. Ramirez said.
The new setting allows students to change and adapt easier, considering the absence of unwieldy chairs and desks. The many positive outcomes that arose from the new setting did not stop Mrs. Ramirez from worrying about how the new idea would play out.
“SRT students, when they came in for the first time, were really kind of freaked out and parents seemed apprehensive at first,” Mrs. Ramirez said.
From the beginning, Mrs. Ramirez was searching for ways to handle obstacles that she might face with her new classroom.
“I was worried about whether it would cause issues with classroom management,” Mrs. Ramirez said.” But when I went through and researched I found some of the things other people did to cut down on those issues, so I have approached things in that manner.”
Schools that use these methods concluded that the newfound activity showed an impact on test scores and an increase in student relationships.
“Some students need to stand, some students need to be tapping their feet and the way that I’ve arranged the room, that isn’t such a big deal,” Mrs. Ramirez said.
The new ideas have excited students and the new learning environment has given them a variety of options to find their best learning styles. Junior Madeline Garcia is fully on board with the idea and said that other teachers should try it out.
“I think the causal learning environment has actually made it a lot easier for me to do my work,” Garcia said. “I’m 100% a yoga ball fan because you get back support; you sit up straight and you focus.”
Freshman Maya Abramson said that Japanese class “feels like a recess, sometimes” and is freer than other classes.
“You’re able to sit where you want and if you need to spread out on the floor, you get to do that,” Abramson said. “My favorite seat is probably the giant moon chair, but that one’s always taken.”
Junior Alex Zeigler said that the flexibility of the classroom is similar to last year, but has still been beneficial to his studies. Zeigler said that the new atmosphere has definitely caused relationships to develop among students and changes the formal classroom setting into a comfortable area where humor and help is always present.
“Sometimes you do get off task, but other times it helps because everyone works together really well since we’re not restricted to just desks and chairs,” Zeigler said. “I like the yoga balls, but I normally sit on the rugs if all of those are taken.”
Mrs. Ramirez said she will definitely use this idea for years to come and feels that a flexible classroom setting benefits her students in ways more than just learning. Changing the atmosphere constantly helps students adapt better and learn to operate in a variety of environments.
“I think it’s going to constantly morph and change, and it kind of throws them off a little, but they’re learning to take whatever I throw at them,” Mrs. Ramirez said.