- We need more academic playgrounds. We need to spend time observing children in outdoor spaces to discover how indoor learning spaces can be better designed.
- Consider 20 questions to ask when designing and transforming learning space to enhance student performance. The goal should be to design learning spaces that meet the needs of today’s learners.
All students deserve a learning space. As teachers and administrators continue to transform learning spaces, they could learn a lot about classroom design by visiting a playground, children’s museum, or public library. When you observe students on a playground, you will see collaboration, communication, critical thinking, teamwork, problem solving, citizenship, innovation, and community. We need more academic playgrounds. If teachers and administrators took time to reflect on the importance of design, purpose, and space, they may find that the old structure is a barrier to student achievement.
The goal should be to design learning spaces that meet the needs of today’s learners. Learning space is often overlooked in education. Reflect on the learning goals and ways to support student understanding. Click To Tweet
Transforming Learning Space: 20 Questions To Ask
- Does the current space support the learning goals?
- How does the space encourage collaboration and communication skills?
- Where can students brainstorm and develop their own ideas?
- How does the lighting impact teaching and learning?
- Does the learning space influence student voice and student choice?
- Is the space age appropriate?
- Do students have multiple seating options?
- Are the walls used for “Learning Walls” or simply posters from college and pro sports teams?
- How will students interact with technology in the learning space?
- Can students work independently or are they required to work in a group at every seating arrangement?
- Does the learning space provide students with opportunities to contribute?
- Does the learning space encourage student contribution over compliance?
- Is the space designed so students can brainstorm and write on the floor, walls, and/or desks?
- Does the space take into account the varied abilities of all students?
- Does the space encourage student innovation?
- Is there a sound system to enhance student learning and opportunities to connect with multimedia?
- Does the space tap into students’ natural curiosity and imagination?
- Does the space encourage formative/ongoing assessment?
- Is the space designed for project based learning?
- Have you asked the students what the learning space would look like if they were the architect(s)?
Transforming Learning Space: Reflect on Favorite Learning Spaces
Once you design a space that meets the students’ needs and preferences, you may be surprised at the change in student performance. When you are blogging or reading the news at home, do you put your feet up in a chair? Do you drink a cup of coffee and sit on the back porch? We do our best thinking when relaxed. Students can collaborate, communicate, create, and think critically in inspiring learning spaces. Reflect on your favorite learning spaces.
Transforming Learning Space: Reflect on 20 Questions
Too often, teachers and administrators see a trendy classroom on Pinterest. The goal should be to design learning spaces that meet the needs of today’s learners, not to purchase bright colored bean bags, neon colored paint, rocking chairs, and lava lamps. Learning space is often overlooked in education. When teacher teams begin to ask these questions, they will reflect on the learning goals and ways to support student understanding, rather than transforming a traditional classroom into a trendy classroom.
About Steven Weber
Dr. Steven Weber is the Associate Superintendent for Teaching and Learning with Fayetteville Public Schools (AR). His areas of research include curriculum design, formative assessment, professional learning, and school leadership.