Chute Middle School 8th Grade Language Arts hallway.
Chute’s hallways have always been a clear indicator of what’s being taught in the surrounding classrooms. Group work, Post-it parking lots, and art work, can be found throughout the building. Needless to say it’s colorful, but how useful is it? For years we’ve fought back and forth about what to hang in public areas and we’ve debated our intentions. Are we sharing what we’ve learned to inspire someone? Are we exposing students to new information? Are we celebrating a student’s accomplishment? The list goes on and on.
But no matter our thinking, the hallways have been teacher centered for the past 20 years I’ve been here. Teachers design bulletin boards to coincide with a particular unit of study. We laminate, cutout letters, search for images etc. The board begins in the mind of the designer, the teacher.Do we see kids volunteering to advertise new information learned? Should they be involved? Should kids then also have an opportunity to use that which is hanging in the hall? Would this public information be seen and then validated by student use? I think so.
After the iPad rollout, I’ve watch the hallways become a bit more interactive. Students are hunting for answers, using their cameras, scanning QR codes to interact with a vocabulary bulletin board, setting up appointments with tech support for iPads.
School has always been a building with walls, lockers, hallways, children, adults, and books. Learning takes place in a multitude of ways. But it was guided 100% by the adults in the building. Judging by the language, the activity I see in the hallways since the iPad rollout, I’d say we are witnessing a change. While teachers are currently deciding what they are putting up, I find that what they are displaying encourages interaction. We, the staff, are looking for ways to communicate, share, and connect with our students even when we are not in their presence.
QR Codes around the building.
So I still have questions. How can we invite, encourage, or facilitate our students managing what should be displayed or shared? How do we guide them in the creation of some of the signs around the building? What would they find helpful as a resource? Isn’t it time, in the time of student centered education (Danielson based instruction, that we consider how to make not just the instruction, but our learning environment student centered? Shouldn’t that include the hallways? In Danielson it says, “Both students and teacher establish and maintain through planning of learning activities, interactions, and the classroom environment high expectations for the learning of all students.” I would stretch this conversation to say, that we need to consider not just the classroom, but the entire building.
It’s empowering when someone gives you an opportunity to express yourself.