Mrs. Thompson finds a new path to learning

Samara Anderson, Editor in Chief

Here at Carlsbad High School, teachers try their absolute best to prepare their students for college and beyond. Teaching styles develop and change as students transition from elementary school, to middle school and to high school. But what would happen if we brought teaching styles used for younger kids into high school classrooms?

English teacher Mrs. Thompson has been teaching at CHS for 11 years. She continues to be an inspirational role model for her students, and has made quite the impact throughout her years here. This year, Thompson had an realization that she hopes will positively affect the way students learn.

“I was wondering, because we keep saying we’re supposed to be transforming our kids and preparing them for college, and career readiness, and no job will have you in this horrific fourth grader desk,” Thompson said. “So I was wondering if the environment can affect the student, why are we putting them in this?”

One day, Thompson’s students walked into a whole new world. Thompson’s classroom was no longer filled with desks, but with lounge chairs and group tables and chairs. Her classes no longer have assigned seating, and Thompson has completely changed her way of teaching. She no longer gives her students quizzes, and she did not even test them on the novel they just finished.

“I realized I was too much in the way,” Thompson said. “And then as soon as I asked them to start doing things on their own, they were able to come up with better ideas than what I was going to ask them to do. Now that they are responsible for making something happen beyond themselves, they’re doing more. They’re doing more reading, they’re doing more writing, they’re doing more.”

Thompson plans to make her room the “dream room,” before starting the other English classrooms. Once hers is finished, she wants the other English teachers to come check out her room and notice how the environment helps students’ learning.

“The setup makes it easier to think, because you are more comfortable, and you can sit where you feel comfortable,” freshman Logan Stucki said. “It’s just easier to relax and work.”

Because of the new setup, Thompson has seen a great change in her students’ work ethic and participation in class. With a student organized grant for $20,000, Thompson hopes to buy a learning-based piece of equipment called chromecasts. She imagines her students working in groups, and coming up with ideas, utilizing the collaborative screens. For example, if a teacher notices a group’s excellent idea, he or she can send it via chromecast to all students in the class.

“I feel like it would let kids practice the skills that they’re actually going to need in their career,” Thompson said. “I think it changes stuff. And I think a lot of teachers are trying to change stuff, and get a little more progressive, and give a little more ownership to the student, but we aren’t necessarily working together yet, to make it a bigger movement.”

This year, Thompson not only realized how the environment can affect a student’s learning, but she took action. Since the change, she has seen a great amount of improvement.

“All of a sudden kids that I’ve had for an entire year, who weren’t participating, were definitely not talking, about things they were supposed to, are emerging as leaders, in the classroom, in the discussion, in literary analysis discussions,” Thompson said. “It’s crazy. They’re participating, and they’re showing me what they are capable of. They are fully capable of fantastic ideas, of course they are. They are fully capable of all the things I am trying to get them to do, like analysis, critical thinking, caring. It’s been really, really interesting.”