Whenever I cover a class for a colleague, whether it is math, science, or English, I am amazed at the rigid structure on their classrooms. Invariably, those classrooms have small desks with the attached chairs, lined up in perfect rows, all facing the board. My left eye starts to twitch. How can anyone teach- or better yet, learn- in this environment? Classrooms haven’t changed much in 50 years.
I recently watched a fascinating video about making thoughtful changes to a classroom to encourage collaborative thought and work. As I watched it, I couldn’t help but think- my classroom is similar to the ‘after’ images: tables (instead of desks) for collaboration, centers for children to gather and work together, a central place for me to instruct and give demonstrations, creative art materials accessible to all students to inspire design and problem solving, enough space around the tables for movement, and the list goes on. It is an art room, so it is a studio space. Other disciplines are moving towards the art room layout. Finally.
I also reflected that because my room is an art room, I may be ahead of the curve. To make art, we need this type of space, so the studio format comes to us naturally.
The video below is from a post in Edutopia, 8 tips and Tricks to Redesign Your Classroom. It has many thoughtful design changes that can be applied to any classroom.
The key word is thoughtful.
Now you may not be able to do everything in the video- but you can do some of it. And the best part? The room design is based on teacher and student need, predicated on teaching and learning objectives. Wow! Someone was actually thinking.