“It is largely assumed that a classroom is one thing. If there’s enough room for rows of desks and enough space for a teacher to stand, the classroom is both functional and finished." We think this view of the classroom is short-sighted at best. Here's why.
The reason lies partly in the implied design process, teachers are not the ones sketching diagrams. They won’t have spent large periods of time manufacturing spaces in which to inspire groups of young people. And in a highly successful school, one that draws out every ounce of a child’s potential, the different learning environments should be tailored to each individual subject that is being offered within the setting.
Therefore, carefully directed research and listening should take place from the beginning to ensure the resulting space is a multifunctional learning area, in which students are inspired to learn. But how do we get this crucial information?
Listening to Your Student
Start off by speaking with the students themselves. You are certain to come across new ideas you’ve never considered! While some suggestions may be unusable, the information you gain will be invaluable. For this reason, don’t ignore any requests completely. Keep an open mind and pay attention to the intent of each request, not just the request itself.
Seeing an environment through the eyes of a child can be an enlightening process, but more than this, it can ensure that any new design instills a sense of awe and wonder that resonates with the hearts and minds of your students.
Some people (both students and teachers) may not be able to adequately verbalize their desires for a new environment. To account for this, inviting everyone to brainstorm ideas on a picture mood board can be effective for helping to establish an underlying theme or tone for a new learning space!
Traffic Flow Observations
Traffic flow matters for a few different reasons. First, it helps you understand how a space is currently being used, which often reveals ways in which it could be more effective in the future. People move around and interact with furniture and facilities in different ways and ensuring a strong understanding of this movement can lead to a more efficient circulation of students and therefore a calmer and more intuitive space.
No one is more intimately aware of the requirements for a classroom than teachers. Teachers have a real ability to understand the wants and needs of their students. For this reason, evidence-based design should very much lean on teachers' experiences.
Choose Experienced Educational Designers
It is critically important that you choose a firm that has a track record of successfully designing K12 spaces. Firms that meet these criteria will have real-world experience and feedback upon which to draw. They can give clear, evidence-based indications as to what works, and what doesn’t.
Interested in CMBA’s approach to K12 architecture and design? Click here to learn more.