Last year I was lucky enough to work in a new school, with fabulous spaces. However, this wasn’t always the case! Like the VAST majority of schools in New Zealand, I worked in a bog standard 1960’s classroom, complete with smelly cloak bays, cockroaches and less collaborative teaching.
Below are photos of my old classroom, once it had been transformed as well as information on the way we decided on the furniture we have in Room 3. I think the most important thing to remember though, is that whilst fancy spaces a wonderful, it is really the pedagogy that should come first and foremost. Without effective pedagogical practice, no space will utilised to it’s full potential.
Photos © Krissy Dwyer 2012
How did we decide on this furniture?
It was quite a process! Last year I had a chat to the children in the class about how the way we learn could be complimented or enhanced by the furniture. They made floor plans and we weeded out the ideas that were unfeasible. I then visited a few other schools with senior staff to see what they were doing with their learning environments and talked to the children in those classes extensively. When we returned to school I picked two children who were critical and analytical thinkers to visit a couple of other schools to broaden their perspective on what they did and didn’t want in a learning environment. We then went through the furniture catalogue together and discussed which furniture would work for which learning situation. This formed the basis for the decision on what the school would purchase.
The children had a lot of input into what the classroom looks like now and I think that this has had a profound impact. When the class got the furniture I expected there to be teething problems. There weren’t ANY! Children didn’t ‘bags’ seats, they moved around according to their learning needs/requirements from the outset, there were no arguments and we only had one problem with 2 friends sitting together who distracted each other. I think this can be credited to the fact that the children basically designed the environment to fit their needs.