“What if instead of worrying about furniture (desks) being more flexible, we created learning environments that supported STUDENTS to be the flexible elements in the space?”
The Space-A guide for educators, Rebecca Louise Hare and Dr. Robert Dillon
This has been my driving question from the book The Space this school year with agency and learning environments. At WAB, we have beautiful classrooms designed with flexible furniture, writable tables and walls, sofas and cushions. With the students, I arrange and rearrange the rolling tables and chairs to suit learning needs. My interest this school year has been how the students are using the learning space supported by the culture of the classroom.
Building a culture of…
Choice, Responsibility and Trust
Each day students make decisions about where they will learn. I ask them to think about what they are doing and what choice they can make to help their learning. Do they need to sit in the sofa area to read? Are they typing and need to sit upright in a chair for good posture to free their hands? Who will help them with their learning? Who will they sit next to? Students are asked to take responsibility for their learning location.
I ask students to act responsibly and give them the opportunity to build a relationship of trust. I count on them to follow through on what they say they will do. I trust them to make good decisions. There are times when the trust is broken and they will need to rebuild trust. This is part of the learning process.
We share the decisions of how we use the learning environment. I ask them where do they think we should store materials, display our work and meet in groups. We decide together. I ask students to take care of their needs and be responsible if an adult needs to know where they are going.
Our learning environment extends beyond the walls of the classroom. Do they need to go outside to take photographs or work on their play in the hallway? Have they signed up for a Maker Space session or need to check out a book in the library? They let me know if they need to leave the room for learning. I want students to feel empowered and responsible for their learning.
Ownership & Access
This is our classroom and our learning space. We have shared materials and spaces to keep our own belongings. It is everyone’s responsibility to maintain our learning space. Pictures of learning are put up by the students. It may not always be neat but hopefully it has meaning and is owned by the students.
A next question for me to explore – How do I have students reflect on the the choices they made and the impact on their learning? How can I have them share their insights of their learning choices in relation to the environment with others?
How do you collaborate with your students to create their learning environment?