Educators at Dayton School District believe that it is crucial to re-imagine education for their students in order to better prepare them for the new creative economy. This year’s Spanish class is a part of that story.
Ian Reeves is the new Spanish teacher at Dayton High School and is using leading-edge teaching strategies in the classroom that are completely new to Dayton students. This new environment is allowing students the opportunity to see the process of learning a new language in a new way.
Inside Mr. Reeves classroom, there isn’t a desk in sight. His classroom setup is in a large circle of chairs that encompases the middle of the room, which creates an open and welcoming space. The walls are adorned with various cultural projects, symbols and art, which makes the space feel inspiring. Each design element the classroom, is indicative of Mr. Reeves’ deeper learning philosophies.
Mr. Reeves says: “In my experience, desks act as barriers.” Students are able to hide behind their desks. They can hide their thoughts and input, or find opportunities to disengage when they are feeling unmotivated in class. Mr Reeves believes that the learning circle feels more personal and open. “Students aren’t just students,” he explains. “I’m working with human beings.”
The space is so free-moving that lessons can feel like conversations where engagement is necessary to the flow of class. Mr. Reeves describes it as a chemistry, where even the slightest change in a classroom layout or student’s presence can change the entire balance of a classroom’s function, as well as the learning experience.
Personality, passion and openness, are some of the core values that construct Mr. Reeves’ class. Along with these values, he also believes that trust is especially crucial. “Trust is a foundational component of a student learning experience.” He says. “They need to know that their voice matters and that they can make mistakes.”
One of his sophomore students, Dade Bailey, has found that the class is engaging and provides him with a comfortable space to use Spanish to explore culture. The class itself is also a reflection of its teacher. Dade says: “His [Mr. Reeves’] passion for Spanish comes across in his teaching, which reflects onto his students.”
While being in Mr. Reeves’ Spanish class, Dade has become inspired to pursue his language studies even further, with a keen interest in not only Spanish, but Italian and even American Sign Language. Being in the class has helped him see the value and power in being able to communicate with a much larger variety of people.
Dade described Mr. Reeves as being flexible to the needs of his students. He says: “Mr. Reeves is always changing things up and creating options for students who need extra help or those who need to learn different.” This understanding and empathy is one of the big contributors that create such a comfortable environment in Mr. Reeves’ class.
Though Mr. Reeves’ methods are still new to Dayton, they are quickly becoming a part of the school’s culture. Dayton School District welcomes teaching methods that implement innovative educational tools for their students. In doing so, they are embracing the future of education in the classroom.