UAFS Graduate’s Innovation Pays Off in Classroom

justin bond

Justin Bond (center) works with Ballman Elementary students Rebecca Lott (left)
and Checotah Harris. 

With the fast-paced and constantly changing world that we live in, it is important for educators to adapt to the needs of their students, even if in unconventional ways. University of Arkansas – Fort Smith graduate Justin Bond of Greenwood took this idea to heart and in turn has created a classroom environment that is positively changing the lives of his students while receiving recognition from Fort Smith Schools.

 

Bond, a 2014 graduate, planned to attend a larger neighboring university but ended up enrolling at UAFS after deciding on a last-minute tour of campus. He “immediately fell in love” with the university due to its small class sizes and personable professors, coupled with affordable tuition. Bond went into the field of education both to “make his mark” on future generations and to pursue his passion for helping others.

 

Even though the Lavaca High School graduate hasn’t been teaching for very long, he is already making huge impacts on the lives of his students and is being recognized for his progressive ideas and dynamic leadership skills. In September, Bond was selected to be the Fort Smith Public School’s Teacher Spotlight of the Month.

 

According to Bond, he received this award because he is “doing something different and innovative in [his] classroom to increase achievement, motivation, and engagement.”

 

Over the summer Bond had a revelation about his teaching style. He realized he had not given students the independence they needed to problem solve.

 

“How can I expect my students to be engaged in learning, solve problems and make choices independently if I constantly solve their problems and make their choices for them?” Bond said.

 

“This year, I decided to try something new to increase my classroom engagement and make the classroom environment conducive to open collaboration, communication, creativity, and critical thinking,” Bond added. “While trying to make these changes, I learned that this simply cannot be done when kids are sitting in rows of desks all day.”

 

Through personal research and taking graduate courses to teach him new strategies to motivate and engage students, Bond came across a unique approach to create a welcoming classroom environment - alternative seating.

 

With alternative seating, instead of the traditional classroom set-up of desks and chairs, there are bean bags, stability balls, ottomans, pillows, and other more comfortable and nontraditional seating throughout the classroom.

 

Bond’s hard work and innovation paid off. Nearly all the students loved the classroom setup, which made them more motivated and engaged.  An overwhelming majority of the parents said that they can tell a significant difference in their child’s motivation and engagement and they feel that the students are doing their best learning.

 

 

Bond attributed the university’s School of Education for helping him be successful.

 

“The school is simply phenomenal because of the outstanding professors, the relationships that can be built with one’s peers, and the amount of experience one is given to be able to go into the classroom so prepared after graduating,” Bond said.

 

For more information about the School of Education, contact Dr. Glenda Ezell, executive director of the School of Education, at 479-788-7912 or Glenda.ezell@uafs.edu.

 

About the University of Arkansas - Fort Smith

The University of Arkansas – Fort Smith is the premiere regional institution of Western Arkansas, connecting education with careers and serving as a driver of economic development and quality of place in the greater Fort Smith region. Through a small campus, dedicated professors, and the university’s unique bond with its community, students at UAFS are able to do more in the areas they are passionate about, both on- and off-campus, in a way that prepares them for post-graduate success. To find out how you can do more at UAFS, visit www.uafs.edu.

 

Credits: 
Article by Aubrey Sneed, Intern, Public Information Office
Photo Credits: 
Photo by Rachel Putman, Photographer, Marketing and Communications Office
Date Posted: 
Wednesday, February 1, 2017