Space has been something that I have wondered about for a long time. If I am honest, it is probably the last thing that I consider when planning. Maybe because it feels like it is given, already dictated by someone else, or maybe because I lack the imagination to think about what it could be and why. Some people have challenged me, suggesting that I simply need to ask the students. This may well be the case and there are often times when I allow students to move things around depending on what they are doing. However I think that when it comes to wholesale change, that even students are limited at times by what they know.
In a recent chat on Voxer, Jon Corripo provided his suggestions for redesigning a classroom space which again sparked my imagination. His list included:
Better Lighting: Blow out the T-Bars and get down lights, which you can get in LED format now making them a lot more cost efficient.
A Stage for Students: Does not have to be much, just something that allows them to stand above everyone else when needs to.
Built-in Green Wall: Every room needs a green wall and with this built in lighting.
Flexible Furniture: Get a mixture of skinny flippy flop tables which can be nested when needed, as well as standing cafe tables.
Versatile Power: Instead of disrupting the floor space, get electric cord reels that you pull down from the roof.
Project onto the Floor: Rather than projecting onto a whiteboard or IWB, mount an interactive projector so that it projects onto the floor and students can sit around it. For example, Epsom now have an LED projector which is only $350.
Moving beyond ‘flexible’ spaces, Corripo provides a clear vision for a different learning space that is still within the confines of solitary classroom that for too many is still the norm.
Although this vision would not necessarily be the answer for every classroom, what Corripo’s list does do is provide a picture for how classrooms can be different. Another interesting perspective is that of Michelle Hostrup who provided a reflection on how she went about changing up her early years space on the TER Podcast. Such examples help develop an idea of how things could be different. What is most important is that in today’s culture of changing work spaces, we owe it to our students to iterate and develop the learning spaces that in some environments I would imagine have become stagnant over time. This starts by asking the question, is the best possible set-up and if not, then what?
So what about you, how are you restructuring your spaces? What steps do you take to extend your imagination beyond the usual. As always, I would love to know. Feel free to comment below.
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