Continuing thoughts on classroom space

Having had some interesting discussion on classroom space in my earlier post, I have been thinking about and discussing this subject a lot.

To me there is a real distinction between ‘forward thinking’ (for want of a better term ’21st Century’) environments, and what is simply non-standard use of classroom space.

To me, the thinking on innovative use of space should start with pedagogy not practicality.

It should be about thinking not fitting things in.

It should sometimes facilitate and sometimes challenge.

It should be based around people, not tools or technology.

It should be about powering up minds, not finding ways to power technology.

It should be about learning not teaching.

For me I think it has to start with the planning. I want to re-imagine how I want lessons and learning to take place in my classroom, come up with a framework that encourages me to plan activities in that way, and only then look at how the furniture can enable this. I think they key is to make both planning and environment flexible, so that they can adapt to the learning as it unfolds.

It’s like the big I.C.T. faux pas; that we often decide what tools or software to ‘teach’ before deciding what we want children to learn. I think we need to decide what directions we want learning to take, and only then define what kind of environment we need.

It really isn’t about furniture.

GTA approaches
How could I develop my space?

5 thoughts on “Continuing thoughts on classroom space”

  1. Great points Oliver.

    The entire design of my classroom – display boards, positioning of my desk, student desk arrangement, and empty space itself has all been thought through. I considered the following: how do these objects suit my teaching style best, the different styles of learning that need to take place in the room and how will they help facilitate an environment that is learning focussed 100% of the time?

    I wouldn't say that it is all new/innovative but it works for both my students and I.

    I think that the “learning space” is often underestimated by many teachers. This is a shame as I believe the impact can be massive. I wrote more about this here: http://jamesmichie.com/blog/2010/07/design-as-t

    There was a continued discussion but I have had some issues migrating comments across to my new blog.

    I will be very interested to see what you plan/decide and what your classroom ends up looking like in September. Perhaps you should blog about different activities and how you facilitated them by using different parts of the room / different seating arrangements etc.

    Have a great weekend!

  2. Great points Oliver.

    The entire design of my classroom – display boards, positioning of my desk, student desk arrangement, and empty space itself has all been thought through. I considered the following: how do these objects suit my teaching style best, the different styles of learning that need to take place in the room and how will they help facilitate an environment that is learning focussed 100% of the time?

    I wouldn't say that it is all new/innovative but it works for both my students and I.

    I think that the “learning space” is often underestimated by many teachers. This is a shame as I believe the impact can be massive. I wrote more about this here: http://jamesmichie.com/blog/2010/07/design-as-t

    There was a continued discussion but I have had some issues migrating comments across to my new blog.

    I will be very interested to see what you plan/decide and what your classroom ends up looking like in September. Perhaps you should blog about different activities and how you facilitated them by using different parts of the room / different seating arrangements etc.

    Have a great weekend!

  3. Hi Oliver

    We’ve been lucky enough to be wrestling with this for the last two years… having survived the BSF cull by a matter of weeks!

    This September we opened the doors to our new school; one we were lucky to have complete control over, and which our LA encouraged us to be creative with! So, we’ve got a combination of ideas we’d gathered from people like Stephen Heppell, some great people at Futurelab, Dr Kenn Fisher, and most importantly, our children. The result; no doors, no windows, no display, no classroom ‘clutter’, no tray units, no teacher’s desk, no shoes, no corridors, no toilet blocks… and our children, community and staff love it!!

    What did we do? Follow Heppell’s ‘Rule of 3’, create spaces which focussed on learning, did away with the idea of desks and chairs for all and most importantly, asked ourselves ‘What does learning look like?’. It may not be to everyones taste, and we’re certainly not saying we’ve got everything right, but we’re happy to contribute to the discussion!

    Have a look and tell us what you think!
    http://www.jesmondgardens.com/news/?pid=4&nid=2&storyid=15

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