Brainstorming Ways to Improve Traditional Classrooms
There are a number of ways traditional school could be improved that I would love to see make the jump from idea to reality. While the feasibility of implementation ranges from simple to complex, the following are ways traditional schools could be improved to foster greater enjoyment, productivity, and motivation.
- Later start times. Few people like to wake up at the break of dawn, and pre-teens and teens are no exception. So, adjusting school start times would help mitigate the dread and fatigue many students associate with school. More importantly, however, later start times also have health advantages: according to the CDC a lack of sleep can lead to, “being overweight, drinking alcohol, smoking tobacco, and using drugs, as well as poor academic performance.” Surely, these are not the outcomes school wish to see for their students. Implementing a simple change could prevent it.
- Differentiating pace and instruction. Re-working the typical “class” structure to help advanced and slower learners fulfill their desired pace of learning. Though consciousness of differentiated learning styles is becoming more common, currently, classrooms may have 30 students in one class, and the teacher tends to move from lesson to lesson at one particular pace. Ideally, class structure would be altered to accommodate the different pacing needs of each student. One possible model would be teachers doling out the entire semester workload at the beginning of the semester. Then, the everyday class would be a work environment where students can move through their workload. Students could also ask and have discussions about topics that they are working on. This would keep the social aspect of school intact, while allowing students the freedom to move at their own pace and allow for greater differentiation between students. This is just one approach classrooms could take in order to honor the needs of individual students, but there is definitely a need for greater differentiation between different students’ pace and more revised models should be considered.
- More freedom when it comes to choosing classes. I think allowing students to have more flexibility and fewer requirements with choosing classes would give students more motivation because they are able to take classes they are interested in: students excel the most when exploring topics, they can be passionate about. While flexible pathways to achieving the required coursework of school are becoming the norm, further expansion of course choices could enhance learner engagement with school materials.
I think that implementing these changes could greatly benefit the efficiency and emotional well-being of students in traditional schooling. These changes would help to eliminate factors of stress that are derived from the current state of traditional school. With later start times, differentiated paces, and expanded course options when fulfilling graduation requirements, students will be able to focus on their learning rather than mitigating the unneeded stress that comes with little sleep, acclimating to the dominant pace of a large classroom, and taking classes that fail to ignite engagement with the topic.