Designing a ‘perfect’ learning space

Having become interested in changing my classroom to a ‘flexible learning’ space, I wanted to see what the children thought of the idea.

“If you could make the classroom into your ‘perfect’ learning space, what would it look like?”

In pairs, the children designed their classrooms on A3 paper.  There were some interesting ways of spelling ‘board’ (bored) to mark where the whiteboard should go (mental note made to practice homophones again) and we talked about what choices of furniture there might be.

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One of the children’s designs.

Some of the children liked the idea of having ‘zones’, such as an art zone and a maths zone.  There were also some children who find it a bit difficult to imagine anything other than traditional classroom layout of desks and chairs.

I believe that involving the children at an early stage is incredibly important – they need time to adjust how they see their learning environment and to ‘buy-in’ to the concept of a flexible learning space.   Imagine what it must be like when at ten years old you are suddenly told that you will be able to ‘choose’ where to sit and who to sit next to and that the seating options include sofas, soft chairs and cushions!  Discussions with children should include clear messages about the classroom continuing to be a ‘learning’ space and motivational messages about how they are going to be trusted to make good decisions about the way they learn.

All the way along the journey I shared progress with the children.  I told them about furniture that I had found and checked with them that they liked it.  This generated lots of excitement and discussion.  Doing this enabled me to manage their expectations.  As you might imagine, some children had fanciful ideas that just couldn’t be accommodated on a state school budget!

I had agreed an initial budget of £200 with my head teacher.  Rather than commit to spending large amounts of money to kit-out the classroom, we agreed to run the project as a ‘pilot’ to see for ourselves whether the benefits described in the research could be realised.  To be honest, I didn’t know how much it was going to cost to furnish the classroom but this seemed like a good start. I knew that I would have to buy second-hand furniture and I found lots of good advice on other blogs.   Read my next blog for advice on where to look for bargains!

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