For decades, education thought leaders have recognized that there are different learner-types. For several types of students, the traditional classroom setting—rows of seats and a space for the teacher up front—is not ideal. The white paper “21st Century Learning Environments” advocates “interaction and a sense of community . . . enable formal and informal learning.”
Innovative Classroom Environments
Flexibility, then, should be an essential element for the modern school in both the mental and physical spaces. In order to accomplish this, many schools are changing the traditional classroom landscape and going for a more collaborative approach.
Movable School Walls
For example, Gateway Elementary, located in the Omaha Metro area, does not have the familiar gauntlet of lockers in the hallway. Benches are built into the walls where students can work on class material. Even more out of the ordinary, movable walls are popular because they can adapt to changing classroom needs while saving space.
A More Casual Approach to Learning
One case study in a Wisconsin elementary school integrated less formalized learning, where teachers’ roles became more about facilitating than lecturing. Therese Jilek, Director of Instruction and Technology at the school, explains some of the incorporated phases:
“At one point, a student may be researching and need a quiet space where he or she can focus. This space is called ‘the cave.’ In the next 15 minutes, that same student may need to pull his or her team together to share the information that was discovered and plan for next steps. This dynamic is called ‘the campfire.’”
Seating Designed for Fidgety Children
This Wisconsin school also takes into consideration that some children are more “wiggly” than others. In the standard classroom setting, these students would usually be reproved for fidgeting so they aren’t a distraction.
However, in this elementary school, they have a “simply designed stool that has a unique feature. When you sit on it, it rolls slightly in any direction, but doesn’t tip over . . . perfect for kids who need to be in motion to think.”
These schools are leading the way in innovation. Instead of trying to fit every student into one style of learning, they are changing the structure to fit the student. ATS Secured loves this model that encourages changing processes, policies and tools to better the people involved.
That’s smart education.
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