By Teachers, For Teachers
One of my favorite things about YIS is the school community’s willingness to take risks. We have a number of small pilot programs in place, (like iPads in Kindergarten and Grade 1, offering IB courses online, and school-provided iPhones for staff along with a few coming to fruition, like our imminent switch from First Class to Google Apps for Education), the admin is super supportive of trying new things, and I always get the feeling that the entire school community is very invested in making the school a better place – even if it means making a few mistakes that we can learn from along the way.
My first (of my many) mini-projects is to collaborate with a few of my colleagues on designing the “classroom of the future.” The goal is to renovate two more floors of our main building over next summer, and to make sure that those classrooms really meet the needs of both students and teachers for many years to come.
Living here in Japan, space is at a premium and pretty much every classroom is a little bit different than the others, so our first priority is really to standardize as much as we can (so teachers know what they can expect when moving from room to room). Once we have that resolved, then we can start getting a little more creative in the use of the space we have.
We started out by brainstorming our ideas for what would be essential in this “standardized classroom” and came up with the following list:
* Flexible Classroom Space, eg: folding wall, blending 2 rooms together, etc
* Flexible desk/table space: Tables and chairs that can be easily moved and re-arranged
* Different furniture for different divisions
* Fixed Speakers: Surround sound speakers mounted on wall on either side of projection
* Whiteboard space on 2 walls: Including wall cupboards covered by sliding whiteboards
* Interactive Whiteboard
* Ability to adjust lights: Dim to bright or first row of lights on a separate switch to back rows
* Indirect lighting
* Natural Lighting
* Noise Dampening/Reduction
* Open shelves for books
* Closed cupboard space
We created a simple survey to send out to staff and are now in the process of compiling results. It will be interesting to see if teachers in different divisions prioritize different features, and what their feedback will be in general on each of these ideas (we provided a space for comments for each of the items above).
The only problem is that I’m worried that this is a list for the classroom of the present, not the future. The list above describes what is already available in many schools, so what would those teachers be thinking if they could redesign their classrooms? I think we have an opportunity to do something a little more radical, but we’re all quite focused on making the rooms more appropriate for right now (naturally). Maybe we need to be thinking a little farther ahead, while still incorporating these more current ideas.
Since our team last met, I’ve been looking at some videos and articles about classroom design, trying to think ahead to what we will be looking for in our classrooms even just 2-3 years from now. Here are a few:
Considering that education may look very different in a reasonably short amount of time, that we’re going 1:1 in the next year, continuing to expand our online course offerings, and that the school is not too afraid of taking risks, I want to make sure we don’t just design a great classroom for today. I’m just not quite sure how to bring our classroom design into the present, while still being forward-thinking enough to take us into the future at the same time.If you were designing a classroom of the future, what would you include? Share in the comments section below!