I’m often asked this question as I’m working with schools and districts on intentional space design. The answer isn’t linear though, and it requires some nuance. The shift to spaces designed with students that promote the tenants of modern learning can cause classrooms that function through command and control to lose their footing and destabilize the current system, but classrooms that currently allow for voice, active learning, and movement will feel a positive bounce from the changes. Teachers who are proactive in their approach will find themselves asking the questions below to prepare for the transition and reorient to a space that honors our student learning.
Agency, Choice, Empowerment
How often do you ask for feedback about your learning space?
How often do you explicitly mention that your goal is to give students more choice?
When was the last time that you added agency to your classroom with intention?
How are you explaining quiet in your classroom?
As an educator, have you felt the power of mindfulness?
In what ways have you developed the norms for quiet in your space?
Does your space provide you energy?
What specific things help students to feel cared for in your space?
How can you provide healing through content and conversation?
What are the inferred norms of your learning space?
How might we communicate the importance of collaboration through our space?
Would it be possible to use labels and reminder students about the why of each classroom microenvironment?
In what ways can you move your desks/tables to bring everyone into a circular configuration for conversation?
How can you grow as a storyteller so that learning can be sticky for more students?
What stories do students remember about you? How can you control that narrative?
Awareness of Light, Color, Sound
Are there any easy steps that you can take around color choices in your room?
Can you identify at least three locations in your room from which you share information with students?
What noises that exist in your room each day impact the learning in your classroom?
Bringing The Outside Into The Classroom
Who are the five other people that are teaching your class?
How can we incorporate visits beyond the classroom to accelerate learning?
In what ways are your students positively influenced by your community?
Focus Versus Distraction
Do each of the elements in your learning space promote learning?
In what ways could you decrease the visual noise in your learning space?
Are you pursuing a color palette that brings coherence to the classroom?
Classroom Non-Verbals That Support Culture
What three parts of your learning space reinforce your words on classroom behavior?
In what ways to the visual aspects of the room support the classroom norms?
What are the mixed messages of your learning space?