When researching modern classroom design there are so many options but then I saw a picture that stopped me in my tracks: It was the classroom of Michigan high school English teacher Rebecca Malmquist. It looked like a living room! A place you might call home, somewhere to curl up and read a book, take a nap, or have a really good conversation. And yet it was a classroom.
Whilst this isn’t the norm especially in the UK it did rip up the rule book when it comes to classroom design. It is just an example of a flexible space, student centered modern design that is starting to take off. More and more schools are breaking away from the traditional classroom layout and opting for a learning space that is more conducive to 21st century learning.
Whilst you may be thinking that there is no way this could work in your school, the good news is the principles of the student focused learning environment can still be applied with limited space and budget.
Learning is a vital element of living. And knowledge, they say, is power. For the formal education system, the classroom is an important infrastructure that has had to undergo some radical changes. The way a classroom is designed is an important factor that directly influences the level of productivity in terms of learning and teaching. How relaxed are the students? What is the level of distraction? How accessible are the learning tools? The classroom design will determine these variables.
There are numerous tips and options to consider when designing a modern classroom. This article will take you through some top tips :
Talk to your students.
Your students are your best source of information as to what helps and hinders their learning in the classroom. Have your students audit their environment to help you see it from their perspective. This helps to engage the students so the feel included in their learning journey.
It is suggested that this is something that is done regularly throughout the year.
It is perfectly natural to accumulate ‘stuff’ over time, however there is likely to be many things that are unnecessary in the classroom that may be more of a distraction that assistance to learning.
When a human being enters a space they have to visually process their environment, many classrooms have so much visual information spread around the walls that by the time the students are ready to sit and learn they are visually exhausted!
Having less clutter allows students to be able to focus!
Conducive and Spacious.
One major point to consider is the number of students that would occupy the classroom. This is helpful to determine how spacious the classroom would be. Spacing is a fundamental consideration in the current climate and helps to keep the class organised, and teachers can properly supervise every part of the class. There should be windows wide enough to allow natural light and ventilation. When there is enough ventilation in the classroom, students are under a conducive and well-aerated learning environment. Enough oxygen in circulation, also helps the brain to function properly and aid learning.
Flexible seating doesn’t have to mean new furniture – get creative with what you already have. Giving your students agency over where they sit fosters positive learning behaviours.
With enough space, you can be flexible in your teaching styles. Here are a few points to consider in terms of the classroom arrangement.
- Materials needed for teaching should be placed and arranged near the teacher. This would make it easier for the teacher to be continuous in the process of teaching.
- Materials used by students such as textbooks and the likes should have a separate section that is clearly marked. It should be accessible without any hindrance. Students should not have to disturb other students in the process of getting their materials
- Recreational materials should be placed away from areas that are easily accessible to students. This helps them to focus on what’s being taught in class.
- Fragile items should be placed in locked drawers and should be clearly marked. Only teachers should have unrestricted access to hazardous materials.
The traditional desks in a row is fine if you just want to feed students information, however we now understand there is much more to be gained from engaging students in the learning process. When considering your classroom design create spaces that encourage communication and collaboration.
Colours in the Classroom.
Designing a learning space isn’t the same thing as decorating it. Sometimes it is tempting to design the classrooms with a wide range of colours, which can end up looking like a rainbow exploded. Though, based on scientific studies, colours aid in the process of learning. And different colours have a different effect on the brain. Colours such as green keep students relaxed, blue on the other hand is known to aid in increased productivity. Some other colours keep the brain alert and active. Too many colours when combined may have a counterproductive effect on students. Aim to narrow colours to a maximum of 3, one neutral with 2 accent colours. This reduces the visual noise and allows students to focus.
Create safe and quiet areas
With student wellbeing and mental health increasing in importance in many schools it is important to ensure that the classroom provides a safe and welcoming space. Many children are coming into school feeling overwhelmed and anxious. A really good learning environment first and foremost cares for children and takes care of the needs so that learning can take place.
Much more is involved in learning. It goes way beyond the teacher and the students. How a classroom is set up also influences how much of what is being taught is assimilated by the students. Apply these tips in your classroom design and help build a better ambiance for learning.
If the thought of completely redesigning your classroom is overwhelming, contact our experience team and we would be delighted to help.