The flexible classroom is a concept of North American origin popularized by the works of Debbie Diller (teacher and educational advisor). It has largely influenced the experiments in France, Belgium and Switzerland.
The flexible class is an island class that gives students the possibility of different physical postures depending on the seat chosen, the task performed or their needs.
A flexible classroom is made up of two inseparable components: flexible teaching and a flexible environment.
- Flexible teaching involves a change of posture on the part of the teachers with a more individualized approach that respects the needs of the student and his pace of learning. In this sense, the flexible class is consistent with Montessori and Freinet pedagogies (see the articles on these pedagogies) and a pedagogy of multiple intelligences (Howard Gardner). It is also in line with the Feuerstein approach on the development of flexibility as a cognitive competence (see the post on the Feuerstein article).
- The flexible environment is a space whose furniture, areas and rules are designed to offer great freedom of movement and well-being.
The whole allows the establishment of a collaborative, even cooperative pedagogy, while ensuring the differentiation of learning. The flexible class makes it possible to achieve a certain balance between an individual approach and a collective approach. It requires more order and organization than a “classic” class, and also harmony (aesthetics, sobriety, adequate colors, etc.).
Concretely, the class is built from thematic spaces in the form of furniture, tables, various seats (chairs, ottomans, tumbling stool, ABS ball, etc.) and learning materials. : math, language, arts, culture, science, a grouping area, a guided workspace, a library, a rest area, etc. In the “classic” model, we find all the subjects taught.
The flexible class is not just the use of “class” space. It integrates the use of spaces outside the classroom within the school: a "nature / environment" space, a Fab-Lab, (manual and creative activities), a space intended for the development of human potential (mindfullness, non-violent communication, yoga…), a scientific space, a sensorimotor space, a neuro-educational space (for the development of cognitive functions) without forgetting the teachers with a Creative-Lab. The efim envisages the implementation of these complementary spaces, because they contribute to the overall development of the child.
Each day, the students are led, through their work plan, to invest one or more spaces to carry out learning.
There are 3 flexible class models:
- the Montessori model which itself inspired Debbie Miller
- Debbie Miller's Autonomy Centers Model
- the model of individualized handling workshops (AIM)
Depending on the model, several parameters vary:
- The imposed or free choice of a subject and / or an activity: more or less autonomy
- A more or less important guidance through work plans ranging from directive to semi-directive with daily planning to weekly organization.
The flexible class allows you to work in double class. Teachers can provide support to students in greatest difficulty while ensuring individualized follow-up for all students. They can be distributed according to needs, vary and continuously adapt their interventions. It also allows you to work in project mode. It also requires teachers to set up explicit teaching (Steve Bissonnette).
Students develop fundamental transdisciplinary skills: autonomy, initiative and accountability. Also the spirit of synthesis, creativity, a sense of ethics, respect and discipline (Howard Gardner, The five forms of intelligences to face the future, Odile Jacob, 2009).
It is therefore a matter of offering an environment that is sufficiently structured and reassuring, but also sufficiently free to be conducive to taking initiative and to the development of the student.
We are considering this type of educational organization within the efim because it is consistent with all of the approaches that we will implement.