Education leaders have been required to rapidly change their educational strategies. Even when many schools had to physically close their doors, education continued virtually with very little interruption. Challenges have arisen, but these experiences have illuminated a powerful truth for leaders in education: Communities stand to benefit greatly when schools are designed with flexibility and adaptability!
CMBA has worked with K12 clients for many years creating environments that facilitate modern learning in the 21st century. As the focus shifts from standardized education to personalized, self-directed active learning, K12 schools have become more open environments where people truly enjoy spending their time. New schools are inspiring students to be more creative while increasing collaboration and problem-solving – critical skills for life.
Increase Safety with Open Designs
Creating a safe environment is a very high priority when designing a school. Beyond the obvious reasons, safer designs also put students and teachers in the right state of mind for learning. Safe and open entrances are a vital first step, while plenty of windows with views to the outdoors will offer natural light. Interior windows between classrooms can also encourage human connection as well as passive supervision.
A Flexible Central Commons
Cafeterias can be highly versatile spaces. To fully realize this versatility, they should be centrally located with the flexibility to serve multiple purposes – such as an educational commons when not being used for dining. This makes more cost-effective use of valuable space. As an assembly hall, a study space, or lounge, the cafeteria can become the “living room” of the school and even serve the community after hours.
An Abundance of Breakout Spaces
Comfortable and familiar spaces with a variety of seating types can inspire creativity, increase engagement, and prepare the mind for learning, producing better educational outcomes! Additional spaces in corridors or central commons that are designed to accommodate a mix of activities will reinforce the notion that learning happens everywhere, not just in conventional classrooms. These spaces become the building blocks of collaborative communities and empower students to emphasize their individual strengths and learn from the strengths of others, preparing them for the kind of teamwork they’ll encounter as adults.
More Technology Everywhere!
Learning in the 21st century often applies the function and flexibility of media centers that have existed for years and replicates the model throughout the entire school building. Yet, media centers still play a critical role as the technology hub and the “homeroom” of media specialists who are a valuable resource for teachers and students eager to integrate technology into the curriculum. Today’s media centers are often designed like maker spaces or production labs that accommodate a variety of activities including large group instruction, small group teamwork, and individual study.
Interested in Modernizing Your K12 School Design?
Our K12 designers are here to help your teachers, students, and community embrace the benefits of 21st-century learning. Learn more about CMBA's K12 education design work here.