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The Student Becomes the Teacher

February 11, 2019

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Math teacher Joanna Sanford from General Douglas MacArthur High School proudly showcased her nontraditional classroom setup to a special visitor, her former fourth grade teacher, Theresa Travers, on Feb. 5. Stanford was inspired by a workshop she attended which made her consider an alternative classroom configuration and invited Travers to come in to possibly incorporate the classroom design into her own classes.

Her idea to feature round tables in lieu of desks spread to math classrooms not only at MacArthur High School but also Division Avenue High School. With the success of the new configuration, Stanford has shared with other educators the positive affects this change has made. The new math community allows educators to utilize space by walking around the room with ease to help students and increases collaboration with peers sharing tables and the supplies in the center.

Travers, who currently teaches math and science at Berner Middle School in the Massapequa Public Schools, observed her former student as she taught a lesson. Students sat at their round tables with three to four of their peers. At the end of the lesson, the students had the opportunity to ask Travers questions about Sanford, including how she was as a student.

"It was very emotional and it was very humbling," said Travers, upon seeing Sanford teach. "I learned about the circular system of seating the children and incorporating materials in the middle of each table."

Both Travers and Sanford also shared with the class the history of the classroom's beloved Hot Chocolate Bar. Stationed in the corner of Stanford's classroom, the Hot Chocolate Bar features a Keurig and cups for students to enjoy the hot beverage during lessons. Sanford was inspired to bring the idea into her own classroom after experiencing it in Traver's class back in fourth grade. Traver's explained that she got the idea from her former teacher as well ?" a sweet treat that has grown from generation to generation.

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