Where Students Learn Matters- Part One

  • Welcoming- Have you ever entered a space and felt like you weren’t wanted? This is a feeling that many students experience from the time that they enter a school building. Signage, color and images can all shape this experience. For other students, they have a tradition of not enjoying school and each step into a classroom is a reminder about the past. Reshaping the design can break this cycle.
  • Belonging- Do you see yourself in the learning environment? Learning environments have traditionally been built without great details to whether they are culturally responsive, and when they are, they rarely have the adaptability to shift with the community. If students and teachers feel as though they are entering a space where they can’t see themselves and have no semblance of their environment beyond school, then the space is working against itself from the beginning.
  • Stress/Anxiety- All learning spaces should reduce student stress. Formal learning is often stressful for students. They are processing information, handling social situations, completing school work and trying to showcase their learning on assessments. This stress at the right level can bring out the best in our students, but learning environments without intentional design can stress our students in ways that negatively impact learning and social interaction. It is essential to find where the environmental stressors are for the building and work to mitigate them.
  • Agency/Choice- Co-design and ongoing feedback loops are essential to effective spaces. When learners and facilitators of learning have a voice in crafting both the macro and micro of a space, there is greater ownership, comfort and control. All of these elements allow individuals to be optimized in their performance. Choice for students doesn’t mean that they get to control all aspects of where they learn, but it means that they are a meaningful part of the conversation throughout the learning journey.

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