Classroom Learning Spaces and #Edcampldr

Yesterday I participated in #edcampldr Chicago. A huge thank you goes out to Jeff and Jason as well as many others that helped organize this event.  Notes from the event can be found here.  It was great to be able to meet many educators and administrators in and out of the local area.  I’ve connected with many over Twitter during the past few years, but meeting them face to face was a great opportunity.

I found many takeaways from all the sessions, but I want to focus on one session in particular for this post. The fantastic Erin, Ben and Tom all helped facilitate the session related to creating classroom learning spaces. The session helped participants recognize the need to change the way classrooms are organized. Just like adults, the environment in which we learn in can significantly contribute to outcomes.  Unless there’s some type of mandate, teachers generally have control over how/what their classrooms looks like.  I think it was beneficial to hear from other educators and administrators that we have more control in our classrooms then we’d like to admit.  I feel like educators know this is true, but hearing from others in the field help affirm our own beliefs.  Powerful discourse has an opportunity to develop when educators move out of their district’s boundaries.  I believe these types of conversations happened in this particular session.

The presenters advocated for changes to the traditional classroom setup.  This session gave participants time to analyze their own classrooms, discuss possible changes, brainstorm ways in which to better organize their current structure and create a plan on paper. I felt as though the rich discussions that happened were valuable.  Hearing other plans helped participants question their own design and what to modify in the future.  Near the end of the session participants went around the room to view all the different types of models that were created. Opportunities were given to ask questions regarding the plans of others.  The focus of the discussions revolved around what learning environments best meet students needs.  Regardless of the many titles evident in the room, so many questions initiated a dialogue that moved participants to question their own structure. Here are a few questions that I heard in the process: do students need a charging station, research station, comfy seating, desks with casters? Students from the local high school were also a part of this process.  They offered opinions and ideas related to what designs work best for their own learning needs.  This was an amazing opportunity as educators are truly building their learning environments for the students.

Looking forward, I have a few steps that I’d like to take in redefining my classroom learning space.   I’d like to revisit ClassroomCribs to find additional examples and discuss possibilities of using both desks and tables in my classroom.  Also, I’d like to ask my own students to be part of the classroom learning space design process. I thought this session helped participants become more aware of how classroom spaces impact student learning.  This is a worthwhile topic to discuss as it directly impacts students.

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