Transform Your Classroom Into a Modern Learning Space

In schools across America, the floors have just been polished and fresh paint now adorns many classroom walls. A dedicated team of hardworking custodians who take great pride in their work have spent their summer getting classrooms ready for a new school year. Students are even getting involved in the work. In a Seattle high school, students spent time cleaning and painting in an effort to promote a positive school culture and learning environment.

Over the next couple of weeks, an army of more than 3 million educators will begin to transform these newly refurbished blank canvas classrooms into spaces that are conducive to learning in the twenty-first century. In a recent blog post, Michigan’s Warner Elementary School Principal Ben Gilpin reflected on his conversations with some of these teachers who were planning to Transform Their Learning Spaces this coming school year. As teachers plan their own classroom transformation, Gilpin offers three suggestions:

1.      He encourages teachers to hinge their classroom on student learning.
2.      He reminds teachers that classrooms must be interactive, creative, and adaptive.
3.      He challenges teachers to ask themselves if their learning spaces are teacher-centric or student-centric.

Missouri curriculum specialist Dr. Justin Tarte offers teachers young and old 5 Easy Ways to Improve Their Classroom Learning Space. If they have the capability to do so, he suggests teachers experiment with turning some of their classroom lights off. He argues for a “less is more” approach when it comes to decorating walls, and stresses the importance of utilizing background music to focus students. He stresses the importance of keeping the classroom as mobile as possible so that learning tools can be flexible and adapted to meet different learning situations. Finally, he encourages teachers to dedicate space in their classrooms for creative thinking and open collaboration with peers.

Michigan teacher and curriculum specialist Nicholas Provenzano has vowed to focus this year on turning his traditional classroom into a NerdySpace, a learning environment that is more conducive to modern teaching and learning. In his blog, he explains how he plans to ditch his teacher desk and the notion that there is a portion of his classroom that students are not allowed to enter. He wants to abandon his student desks in favor of tables and other collaborative spaces. He is looking for a layout that will allow him to change the center of his classroom so that he doesn’t feel that he is always standing at the front of the room to deliver instruction. Finally, he wants his classroom to be flexible so that it can change and adapt to meet the learning needs of his students from day to day and activity to activity.

Are you a teacher who needs some help to tips to help you get started on your own classroom transformation? Try starting with Peggy Wang’s article on 36 Clever DIY Ways to Decorate Your Classroom. There you can discover how far you can stretch a little colorful contact paper and repurpose some old furniture. Need some more ideas? Try visiting Twitter and the hashtag that was created for this very topic: #learningspaces.  

Whatever you decide to do, remember that classrooms aren’t meant to meet our needs as adults, they are meant to meet our student’s needs as learners. Don’t be afraid to ask students for decorating advice, for or suggestions on how to arrange the furniture, or input on where to place the supplies. With their feedback, you’ll have a learning space conducive to meet all of their needs all year long.

This article was written originally for MultiBriefs.


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