When we built a new 3-story high school building on our former baseball field, we knew that we wanted to incorporate spaces where students could learn and teachers could teach in a very collaborative manner.
So, along with our new classrooms, in most areas of our school there are now two hallways with resource classrooms running down the center. Those are our collaborative spaces, and they’re where we got to be creative in terms of planning and design.
We didn’t want to just order 200 of the same chairs and hope for the best, so we worked with MiEN to select furniture designs and other elements that would best define and complement our new collaborative spaces. Here are four other steps we took to achieve our vision:
1. Match the space with the learning content. I wanted each area to include furniture that would best fit the students’ needs as they came in to use those spaces. In our English literacy content space, for example, the collaborative learning spaces need more of a “library feel,” complete with sofa-type furniture and soft seating. The vision was for students to come in and have Socratic seminars and maybe discuss a passage. The collaborative spaces focused on math, on the other hand, are tech-friendly with high tables, soft seating stools and large interactive whiteboard monitors for students working in groups. Science spaces combined the two concepts and included soft seating plus semi-circle high-top tables where students could congregate to solve complex science problems.