CreativeSpaces Encourage Learning
by Cate Murway
The best way to predict the future is to invent it. – Alan Kay
Learning is not a spectator sport.
Inclusive teaching strategies refer to any number of teaching approaches and tools that adequately address the needs of students with a variety of backgrounds, learning styles, and abilities. Getting and keeping students engaged is perhaps the most important step in creating a successful learning outcome.
How students learn to learn builds essential skills for life beyond the classroom.
A good teacher inspires hope, ignites the imagination, and instills a love of learning.
Ashlee Bryn Scarborough, VJM ‘04/ Moravian College [finance & math]/ LaSalle U. [M. Ed – Elementary & Sp. Ed.] just completed her third year teaching in the first grade inclusion classroom at Mastery Charter – George Clymer in North Philadelphia near Temple University. She is diligently addressing the need for strategies designed to enhance the school performance of her students, fostering in each child an intrinsic drive toward achievement and betterment, enabling them to be become self‐directed learners.
Her experiences include student teaching in an Autistic support classroom and Substitute teaching Special Ed. for the 1st, 3rd and 6th grades at Philadelphia Academy Charter School [PACS]. Her next schooling trek took her to Hawaii, on the Wai'anae Coast of O'ahu, first as an instructor of the 6th graders and then teaching the kindergarten students at Kamaile Academy Charter, a PreK-12 Hawaiian focused public conversion charter school that embraces all the cultures.
Mastery Charter on 12th & Rush Streets in Philadelphia is just one of the educational units of the Renaissance Charters that take over failing public schools and transform them under the leadership of a charter school team that is experienced with successfully turning around low-performing schools. This initiative is a key part of the Philadelphia School District’s ongoing work to ensure all students have a great school close to where they live. Through the initiative, the dedicated teachers work together creatively as a team to motivate their classes of 26-30 students with long-term academic challenges.
Ashlee’s friend/ teammate/ fellow teacher Rachel E. Riggs, Moravian ’10 inspired her to use DonorsChoose, www.donorschoose.org a committed organization that strives to make it easier for anyone to help a classroom in need.
She and Rachel desired to move beyond conventional thinking about classroom design. They both feel strongly that students in every community should have the tools and experiences they need for a great education.
Are there daunting challenges? “Excellence. No excuses.”
Ashlee intends to increase her effectiveness in the classroom by creating spaces that promote students’ success and advance teaching and learning. Her personal goal is to be fully funded by August, allotting her sufficient time to prepare for the 2016-2017 school year.
“My students need flexibility in their options in our classroom, including yoga balls, wobble stools and pillows. They are most successful when they have the power to choose where they learn best.”
When students are uncomfortable, they are distracted. There has been a noticeable change and the students tended to pay more attention, managing their energy better with alternative seats.
Some control over their surroundings adds to their sense of well-being.
What would you have appreciated? Ashlee confirmed, “Just the choice! When I think about learning or reading, I think about curling up to get into a good book.”
Her passion is to instill in them the “love of learning”.
One of her navy blue uniformed first graders may choose a bouncy exercise ball.
P.E. class? Negative. This is just how Ashlee Bryn’s students will roll….and sit, bounce, recline and lie down. The goal is to provide individual creature comfort, flexible seating in each location with cushions, pillows, lap desks, and wobble stools, permitting the student to find a place to really focus. Some of these very movable, alternative seatings even help build core muscles as well as make group projects easier to coordinate.
A comfortable environment can clear the mind of the distractions that impede the learning that needs to be done. Creative spaces can foster engaged and active learning.
“They like to move, they love to read and love lots of positive attention.”
Many of the students are being raised in single parent households in a racially and ethnically diverse community. They qualify to receive a free breakfast and lunch of healthy, fresh choices, based on their socioeconomic status.
Rather than trying to separate the child from their environment, the dedicated teachers look to develop the ability of their students to embrace the obstacles in life as opportunities for growth.
“From the minute they walk in the door of my classroom, I focus on their potential and growth while they are with me. I may not be able to control their home lives, however, I can certainly control their experience during the school day. By doing this in a creative and positive way, I am hoping to inspire even our earliest learners to continue on a path of academic excellence. Watching them progress and grow throughout the school year is what makes my job a passion.”
Learning leads to endless opportunities and infinite worth. Her business is their success.
Please help Ashlee’s flexible learners!
DonorsChoose.org makes it easy for anyone to help a classroom in need.
Many are willing to help — if only they could see where their money was going.
A sincere ‘Thank You’ to those who have already been so generous.
“We wanted to help Ashlee and her students in their journey to a successful future.”
Ginger & Lloyd Scarborough, Warrington, PA
“Keep working hard and you will succeed!!” Chris & Denise Strack, Willingboro, NJ
“Your students are lucky to have an amazing teacher like you! Good luck!” Rachel Falco, Madison, NJ
“I gave because I know how powerful learning is. When we experience new things every day we expand our horizons and see that the world is bigger than our streets or neighborhoods. I hope that each and every one of you gets to see the world one day. But it starts here with Ms. Scarborough.”
Staff Sergeant Steven P. Johnson II, BHS ’06/ St. Francis University, APO Europe
“Every child needs encouragement and Ashlee is the teacher who will help them along the way!”
Mary Ann Beck, PA