More like a Starbucks…

I don’t even really like coffee that much but I like going to Starbucks (or any other coffee shop really…). I have never really dissected the experience until now as to why it works for me and the many millions out there but I suppose it must be the atmosphere… You get to drink fatty/sugary goodness and chase it down with equally healthy bakery treats, the service is often good (sometimes they’ll even remember your name if you frequent it enough…Hmmm, not sure I am proud of that), there are comfy chairs and couches, dim lighting to make me look better, hipster music, and even free wifi. What more could you ask for!?!?

My guess is that I am leaving out a number of different aspects that go into the physical makeup of such an establishment, but these are the things I notice. Regardless of why coffee shops like Starbucks work, they have become a meeting place in our society. When I want to catch up with an old friend, work on a project with a colleague, or find a calm place to study a coffee shops seems to like the go to place.  You feel comfy, safe, nobody is rushing you along…life is good. So this got me thinking, why can’t my room be more like a Starbucks? I mean nothing screams come on in and enjoy yourself like 30 sterile looking desks and chairs in precise rows, florescent lighting, and faded motivational posters from the 80’s (you know the ones!!!). So with that in mind, I tried to move my classroom as far away from what I used to know, while still staying within my means, to something what was perhaps a little more inviting…

I wrote about this concept in one of my first posts ever and now a couple years later some of those thoughts have come to fruition, here is my work in progress classroom:


My Classroom, my home away from home…lots of room to move around, a number of different areas to suit different students needs, tables instead of desks for easy collaboration, and above all…hopefully a great place to learn!


Couch seating area with dice stools that can be moved around. Couches are first come first serve, student enjoy the comfort and working with their colleagues.


There are 5 single thinkstations for students who want to work alone, watch a video in private, take a quiz/test, or anything else…


Pencil cases filled with whiteboard pens and erasers for use with our large portable classroom whiteboards (2 ft x 3 ft) and our individual graphing boards. Whiteboarding is definitely by new love when it comes to classroom math activities.


The 2nd Couch area…you may notice I like baseball, especially the Blue Jays. I have baseball posters, math posters, and lots of other shenanigans on the walls!


A single old school chalkboard!!! I don’t do a homework wall since my class is self-paced, so instead I list when the test deadlines will be, and as we derive formulas I allow my students to have them on the board.


The ‘MATHlete Hall of Fame’ – A tradition of mine…check out this link for more info:


A new addition this year! Thanks to Carolyn Durley for the inspiration…A fridge, a toaster, and a microwave + kettle (on the way). A watered/fed student is a happy student!!! (Those are the big portable whiteboards we use to the left)


Last, and least important….my desk. The orange chair is the hot seat!


Where the magic happens!


About flippingmath

Math Teacher, Flipper, Blue Jays Fan
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14 Responses to More like a Starbucks…

  1. That’s a truly sweet set up! I would love to learn there as I’m sure your students will too! You hit the point right on how coffee shops are comfortable spaces. We could all learn from your example of classroom design, and no matter how far we take it virtually anything is better than the sterile atmosphere of harsh lighting and straight rows. I’m looking forward to hearing how your space is received!

    • flippingmath says:

      Thanks Jasper!
      Although somethings are new I have been slowly building it up over the last couple years. The new stuff this year is the kitchenette stuff. Excited to see what they think of this and if it is a motivating….We’ll see!!!

  2. Emmz says:

    Just a couple of questions for you. Nice set up, btw. How many students are in a typical class? What ages are the students?

  3. tjthiessen says:

    Great that your classroom is large enough to offer room for all those flex spaces (couches, foody corner, individual think stations). Thanks for sharing!

  4. I’m inspired by what you’ve accomplished! Unfortunately due to Health and Fire codes we are forbidden to have cloth furniture in our classrooms. Leather and pleather-type are acceptable, but the first is pricey and the second not very durable. I am envious!

  5. alethia says:

    Hello again,
    I have a question for you. What do you do with the kids that just won’t do the work theyr supposed to I’m class (aka talking, not concentrating, etc)? I am having this issue and have held parent teacher conferences but some of them are those that have a super hard time concentrating when they’re friends are around. So what to do? I feel like they’re beating the system. No hw, no classwork, just sit and waste time :(.

    • flippingmath says:

      I also have the same problems from time to time as I think all teachers do. I recently just gave my first unit test and some of those students who were sitting with their friends and not using their time to the best of their ability didn’t do as well as they wished. I spoke with them individually and told them I still wasn’t going to move them because I wanted THEM to take responsibility for their learning and put themselves into a good place to learn. We’ll see how this works. The next move is to intervene more myself, but my hope is they will make the required changes on their own.

      I think we always have to remember that just because students are quiet and appear to be learning doesn’t necessarily mean they are. It makes us teachers feel better having a perfectly controlled and quiet room but in the past that room did not yield the results I was looking for…

      • alethia says:

        Very true about the quiet classroom not equaling learning. I’m glad I’m not the only one that had issues with certain kids from time to time. I’m thinking of making them come to mandated tutoring so they can work one on one with me and So they can finish the work they were supposed to. I do grade their Groupwork but even when I’ve taken points away it didn’t really have the effect I was looking for. So I’m thinking of those that slack off I’m class writing a note that in order to get a grade for that work they are required to come to tutoring with me. As many don’t want to do this (hate staying after school etc) maybe this will help. I’m not sure barely going to try it out next week to see what happens. I was forced to send some home for hw with a certain class that about 60% was not working. That got them to do the work the following day haha. But I don’t want to give hw because I am like you. I don’t see a point in making them take it home where I can’t help them. What are your thoughts about the tutoring thing? Think it will work? I am not a self paced with them yet so that is why I’m grading what needs to be done on a certain date (class work).

      • flippingmath says:

        Hi Alethia,
        Personally I have tried to move away from using points to punish. If students don’t want to watch the videos or do homework questions I don’t force them because I want them to take responsibility of their learning. Quizzes and journals are mandatory in my class if students want to take a test. If they fail to do they required tasks then we have a conversation with the Administration to decide if they should stay in that class or not. I have found that even though some things may not be given points, like my quizzes and journals, I can still get students to do them because they are required part of the course.

  6. alethia says:

    Quick question, what do you mean by hw questions? Do you assign certain questions at the end of the video or something like that?

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