If you look at an old photo of a classroom you probably see rigid rows of wooden school desks and chairs, all perfectly lined up. There's probably not much colour on the walls and very little room to get up and move around or use the space in the classroom a bit differently for other activities. If you walk into a classroom in 2018, it's bright and vibrant, but, in a lot of cases, the desk and chairs are still set up the same way they always have been. In today's world, the format we teach children in and the methods through which we expect them to learn have evolved. Shouldn't our classrooms evolve too?
Education is being disrupted as we speak. Technology is helping teachers to communicate in different ways with children. Apps are providing learning opportunities at every corner. Pupils are studying subjects that didn't exist 20 years ago. The classroom environment itself is ready for something a little different. We are gradually coming around to the idea that everyone learns and is productive in different ways. For example, some children will sit and read quietly for an hour but others will require stimulation in the form of shorter activities that might require them to be active and move around the room.
Some of the ways this can be incorporated into the classroom are:
Choose different seating - It could be a stack of cushions brought out for certain activities or having some corner children's desks set up with different types of seats such as stools or medicine balls. Sitting in a noticeably different area immediately requires the pupil to think differently about the work in front of them and can help learners who need to move around a little.
Think about standing and learning - This might be a bit more suitable for older classes but finding space for a height adjustable desk to be installed for shorter spurts of work like chatting about a class project can be really beneficial when it comes to concentration.
Layout of school desks - If you're stuck for space, consider how you could alter your layout from the traditional rows to cluster desks to promote group work or a semi-circle to encourage participation among classmates.
There are lots of options out there and these options will suit teachers at different points in the school year. In order to keep pace with how children are learning we need to make sure the environment they're learning in enables them to take it all in.