Photo by Angie Black
Recliners, popcorn, and Japanese floor seating are not typical classroom furnishings, however, all of this can be found in American History teacher Cherry Whipple’s room. According to Whipple, a comfortable learning environment is not optional, but essential to learning.
“I think that student education isn’t just brain science; social and emotional aspects also play into learning, so having comfortable seating and collaborating with others is important,” Whipple said.
Whipple has integrated things such as recliners, an array of soft chairs, a popcorn machine and a tea spot into her classroom. These things are enjoyed by students daily and provide a space that’s different from the typical classrooms hard chairs and fluorescent lights.
“I don’t like to sit on hard chairs all day and I imagine my students don’t either, so I give them seating options,” Whipple said.
Also, many students lounge around in Whipple’s room during fit, lunch, and after school. Many of her students choose her room because of its comfortable seating and pleasant environment.
“My goal is to create a space that students want to be outside of class, I want students to have a safe space for lunch, fit, etc. where they can feel at ease,” Whipple said.
Whipple believes that a comfortable learning environment allows students to relax, which gets creativity and ideas flowing. Not only does a positive environment boost creativity, but it provides students with a safe space to ask questions and learn from others. Studies have shown that a work environment can have a significant effect on behavior and an individual’s productivity. A study by Dole and Schroeder (2001), stated that “In the workplace, it is often assumed that people who are satisfied with the physical environment are more likely to produce better work outcomes.” Whipple strongly agrees with this and encourages students to work in groups in order to learn from each other.
“I firmly believe that kids learn from doing and talking, they don’t learn from listening,” Whipple said. “Putting kids in groups encourages students to teach each other which reinforces their learning, or encourages students to ask their peers for help.”
Many students are satisfied with Whipple’s take on a classroom environment and hope that other teachers decide to follow her lead.
“I especially enjoy the soft chairs, hard chairs are uncomfortable to sit on for 7 hours each day,” junior Max Bloomquist said.
“School is not always fun, but it can be more oriented towards student’s wants and needs,” junior Haven Francis said. “I think the popcorn and gumballs
Whipple provides are a good incentive to learning.”
Whipple’s classroom environment hopes to improve student productivity.
“I think the atmosphere of a classroom is important because a positive room allows students to feel comfortable and at home which creates an environment that is conducive to student learning,” Whipple said.
In addition, the snacks provided help students who may not have eaten, and act as an incentive for others.
“I like to provide students with a choice of where they’re going to learn, along with snacks to keep them focused,” Whipple said.
All in all, Whipple’s room is a nice escape and a friendly place for students who enjoy learning in a peaceful environment.
“I’m here all day along with you, and I want students to feel comfortable in my classroom. I want it to be a home away from home,” Whipple said.