Monday, August 19, 2013

A New Design?

It is a rare opportunity when teachers are able to participate in the redesign of a school.  It is a once-in-a-career event.  For us, the possibility of a new Lower School may be just over the horizon, and conversation has started as to how a school's physical space can improve learning and teaching.
The factory model of education provided an easy-to-follow physical layout for classrooms.  Quadrilateral room.  Desks in rows.  Teacher at the front.  Thankfully, times have changed. Collaboration and creativity are embedded in lessons to promote 21C academic and social curricula that will help students be successful in the future.  

What should a new classroom look like?  How can an entire school be redefined through physical space?  Here are my initial thoughts. We need:

-Space that promotes our understanding that students learn in different ways.
-Natural light and opportunities to easily observe and engage with nature.
-More than one "front" of the classroom to provide for small group instruction and multiple student presentations.
-Nooks and crannies for students to engross themselves with their work.
-Space that supports an ever changing technological landscape and houses traditional tools.
-Multiple whiteboards that students can use throughout the room.
-Space that encourages collaboration and fosters creativity.
-Space that houses long term projects.
-Furniture that is easily moved by students and can be rearranged in a number of ways.
-Gathering space where a number of classrooms can meet to exchange ideas and celebrate learning.
-Spaces that promote interaction among grade levels.
Here are some resources to get our wheels turning:
Classroom Redesign Challenge - Mind/Shift
10 Ideas For Designing An Engaging Classroom Space  - Etale - Life In The Digital World

An example of a classroom renovation:

Assistance in gathering resources provided by @plennig and @MaineSchoolTech

Physical space is not the only factor in determining success of a school, but creating an engaging space that supports how students and teachers want to spend their day certainly helps.