In part one, we looked at the importance of learning space design including benefits in the areas of: welcoming, belonging, stress/anxiety and agency/choice. Part two looks at additional benefits.
The elements in part one and mentioned above are foundational considerations when designing effective learning spaces. These set students up with the best possible conditions for success, but where students learn also allows for additional benefits.
- Joy- When our mood is joyful, we are primed for noticing, listening, designing and creating. Space can bring us joy. This doesn’t mean that the space is a playground or a fun house, but it is intentional about helping our students find joy. Students, especially students impacted by poverty, experience the pain and trauma of their surroundings in so many environments, school should be an escape from reality. Holding space for joy can be a key for students to showcase their best selves each day. Make joy a priority in implementing your space ideas.
- Engagement- This is the data that should keep us up at night. So many of our students see formal learning as something that lacks engagement. They see school as getting in the way of their attention grabbing media consumption. Though issues with engagement can’t be solved just with the learning environment, as what students learn and how they learn impacts greatly, it is an essential consideration as the learning environment can be an energy vampire for students. If you have anyone sit in the same space for hours, listening to someone talk and minimizing interaction with others, it is a recipe for disengagement. Great designs can be a first step to flipping the script.
- Life Skills- Beyond the knowledge acquired at school lies a set of skills that are used to learn, unlearn and relearn over the course of time, included in these skills are collaboration and communication. Modern design either enhances the opportunity for this to occur or it creates barriers. Students need a learning environment that actively promotes opportunities to grow and learn with their classmates.
- Where you Learn what Best- The modern workspace has evolved. The era of the single work space is over for most, and this means that our students need to be ready for the reality of working in multiple spaces with different colors, sounds, lights and distractions. If we don’t allow our students to practice this skill in our classrooms, we are setting them up for failure in their space of higher education or career. All students should know where they learn, create, design and make best.
In part three, we will look at practical ways that you can begin this work.