We want our students to come in and feel really welcome and to feel comfortable in their space. We want them to be running into school, not running out of school. So part of that is also making sure that they have some say in the classroom environment and they have some say and how they can move around in the space… It made sense to also then look at how we can support educators in the classroom to change the furniture and therefore change the learning environment.”
The design of a learning space tells a story about the type of learning that takes place in that room. Teachers recognize the negative impact of a cluttered or drab learning space. They have replaced the isolation of desks in rows with groups or pods that encourage collaboration. They value spaces that encourage curiosity rather than compliance. They ensure that the whiteboard is not the only way to share ideas by providing tools and resources that encourage expression and building and creativity. Fueled by the ideas of their colleagues - whether across the hall or via social media - they are constantly looking for ways to upgrade their learning spaces for students.
The challenge of this work is redesigning on a dime. While we embrace the idea of creating classrooms that embody our beliefs about learning, the reality of school budgets can’t be avoided. Creating an innovative learning space with decades-old furniture can seem daunting.
In December’s digital conversation, we had the privilege of speaking with a leader who created a practical, innovative, and inspiring solution to the challenge of redesigning learning spaces. Nicole Bottomely, Principal of Holliston High School (MA), spent some time with our team, sharing the design challenge that she provided to her faculty, practical strategies to empower student voice, the impact of this work on teaching and learning, and the culture of learning that defines her school.
Check out the interview and feel free to add your thoughts, ideas, and resources to the comment section.
Click above to share a practice that promotes student agency, ignites students' passions, or creates a bridge between classrooms & the real world.
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