Just Let Go

By Meghan Borg, 4th-6th Grade Science Teacher

5th grade girls work in their own space made possible by rolling white board dividers.
5th grade girls work in their own space made possible by rolling white board dividers.

“Knowledge is learning something every day. Wisdom is letting go of something every day.”

-Zen Proverb

I have a feeling that I will need to adopt this quote as my mantra for this school year. As the Science Co-Lab develops into a space that will better meet the needs of my students, I have some letting go to do. Personally, I find order to be comforting and necessary for peace of mind. Hey, I may take it too far at times (my closet at home is organized by color), but generally I subscribe to the theory that a cluttered environment leads to a cluttered mind and an organized space will foster organized thought.

That’s all out the window this year in my classroom.

Almost everything moves in my classroom this year, from the white boards, to the chairs, tables, and shelving. The Co-Lab is designed to empower students to take control of their learning space and become more aware of their needs as learners. They can create private spaces to work on projects or in small groups.

As frustrating as it is to teach students about the appropriate time to roll across the room on your chair, I am also starting to see some of the ways this new space will pay off. Even though the desks may not be in perfect lines, chairs are scattered, and students are all over the place, what I do see is that students are finding a space in which to work.  They are staying focused without the distractions of others. In the picture above, 5th grade girls were so involved in their work, they didn’t even notice I was taking their picture. Before this class began the work, they were excited to have the dividers that allowed them space to themselves. Even more importantly, once they were given the task, they were able to get right to it.

So, if wisdom is letting go, maybe this new space has something to teach me about what students are capable of, if they are only given the room to grow on their own terms.

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