Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Specific Reasons for Designing Classroom Environments

Last week, we had a professional development day at my school, and one of the topics we talked about was classroom design in the service of increasing self-regulation.  During our discussion, someone said, "It would be really great if we all went into each other's classrooms and told one thing we liked and one thing we didn't like about each other's spaces."  Though I didn't say anything at the time, that suggestion really stuck with me. 

I have come to realise that all of the changes I have made in my classroom have been made with very specific reasons.  For example:
  • The lighting is low because it helps keeps kids calm and focuses their attention on the places that are lit.
  • The books boxes are on the floor by the wall to keep the counter lines clean and available as a workspace. 
  • The risers replace as many desks as possible to give more choices for body positions, to give me as much easy access to my students, and to give my students as much access to learning as possible.
  • There is a definite lack of commercial borders and posters to keep down the visual noise, and to reflect more of a link to the classroom with the real world. 
  • The big piles of junk in the cloakroom are kept there because I need access to those materials, but they are too big, ugly, or unwieldy to be kept anywhere else. 
  • The big clocks are there because I am bad with time so they remind me.  The big round faces break up some of the right angles and grids that are predominant in this building, especially the beams and the prison-like grid on the windows. etc.
When people tell me they like my class, I just kind of nod.  When people tell me they don't like something about my class, I just kind of nod. As I have said many times, the classroom environment is, should be, and must be in synch with the teacher's teaching style, philosophy, and personality.  The classroom is such a personal reflection of the teacher. 

Have I given advice to teachers about classroom design? Sure, lots, but that was after a discussion of what they wanted and who they were, or even better after getting a chance to see them in action, in that room, with students in it.  Plus, they asked for my advice because they were starting the process of rethinking their learning spaces. 

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