Makes sense to me…teaching in a classroom that inspires rather than in one that puts you to sleep…I personally take the initiative in creating a teaching environment that “wows” a student into learning. Certain colors also have a positive effect on a student’s behavior and are more pleasing to the eye than just plain white barren walls. Teachers need to take a more active role in designing their classrooms …
Pass it on,
An increasing number of teachers looking around their learning spaces today might be reflecting on how their classrooms have changed. So, what has been the main reasons for these developments?
The recession helped. Money is tight, and cost saving governments had two initial choices: take education back to the cheaper and simpler 1950′s model, or rely on incremental productivity – seeking a little more for a little less. However, the former can’t work because the world has moved on; the creative industries want a new fusion of art with computer science for example. And of course the productivity model has been widely tested with the inevitable performance plateaux seen everywhere. So, if we can’t go backwards and productivity gains are all spent, there is only one real option in a parsimonious world and that is to do things differently. Luckily, differently works.
Curiously that wise conclusion was also reached some time ago by a host of forward thinking teachers and students. The result has been a flurry of different, stunningly effective, affordable, evidence based “classrooms of tomorrow” popping up all around the world. Above all else these new spaces, with their agile pedagogies and designed playfulness generate engagement; the students and teachers in them love to work there. That engagement delivers on better behaviour, stellar results and delighted parents.
So what do these little time capsules from the future of learning all have in common beyond affordability? We teach with differentiation and personalisation, so it is surely no surprise to find a varied mix of seating and furniture. People like to stand, recline, chat at table, converse, focus and concentrate – and different furniture enables those behaviours in learning too, in a way that was never achieved with a set of identical straight backed chairs.
Great engagement feeds immersion – so we find longer blocks of time with fewer interruptions and one day or even longer timetable blocks – and November different to March. These agile learning space can change rapidly – with LED mood lighting, with curtain tracks and display surfaces, more like a stage than an office – to keep the day-to-day work fresh and exciting. And the braver schools are mixing ages in these spaces too. With no single point of focus, writing surfaces are everywhere – desks, walls, windows. The atmosphere of learing is pervasive and seductive. Curiously a substantial number of these spaces are shoes-off too. The shoeless revolution spread from Scandinavia. Just go with it, it works astonishingly well; shoeless boys are just plain nicer! And of course, these are globally connected tech-rich spaces with Skype bars and phones-out-on-desks.
In short, the simple rule is that if you create learning spaces that astonish children, they will astonish you right back with their learning. Rather encouragingly, it is not expensive to make learning this good. You only have to be brave, not rich!
Professor Stephen Heppell, Bournemouth University and Universidad Camilo José Cela, Madrid.
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