Recently, I have been getting into this whole classroom design thing and the idea of creating learning spaces that motivate and inspire students and teachers and provide spaces where collaboration can happen; not as an afterthought but as a first choice.
There were three things that inspired this movement of thought. For the past year I have been working as the founder of a startup called iWishfor; which is a great tool for saving and sharing gift ideas with friends and family. As part of that, we worked out of a collaborative space in Vancouver where a whole bunch of startups worked and shared the office space; not only sharing the cost but also encouraging and helping other startups. It was a cool space and I have included some of the pictures below of the space:
And as I contemplated coming back to teaching this fall, to a portable, I kept thinking why can’t our learning spaces be like this with cool graphics and colours on the wall; collaborative spaces being the norm instead of everyone having their own separate desk and great lounging areas for chatting and sharing with more private areas for those who needed a quiet area to work or plan. Why does our learning space have to be a drab industrial looking space with only student and subject items on the walls to liven things up? Why does it have to look like the classroom we all grew up in when everything outside of school moves ahead?
The second inspiration was a book called The Third Teacher. The book (and website) talk about the environment as being the third teacher and also an important part of educating children. You can see their philosophy below:
The third inspiration came as I started looking through the web looking for others in the same mind frame as me. And there are some. I wanted to take these images away and begin thinking about what it would take transform my space into a space that is inspiring. As I mentioned this to a friend, he stated that he thought the idea was good and probably wouldn’t hurt but that I probably would never be able to convince the admin at my school as it would be too hard to determine a return on investment. But I kept asking myself this question:
Where do I go to be inspired?
I am sure that students wonder subconsciously all the time why they are getting up each day to go somewhere that doesn’t scream, “learning AND inspiration happen here”.
Anyway, this will be a post for another day as I write more about hacking my classroom and rein-visioning my classroom as a startup. For now, I want to share some schools and classes, that are inspiring me right now, where learning and inspiration are happening; spaces that spark creativity and the sharing of ideas. A space that is made with children as the focus.