Utilising classroom spaces effectively for better learning
In the above pictures, we can see three very different but common types of classroom spaces. Where do you think the students and teachers are enjoying the most; and the least? Why?
While there are no good and bad classrooms, the learning environment for students can always be made better. Students and teachers spend a large part of their day in the classroom engaging with new concepts and developing skills. It is essential that while this engagement, the physical environment around children is conducive to learning, creativity and curiosity. It is also important that the spaces reflect the purpose of a school classroom – to provide a context of education.
Here are a few tips for designing enabling and effective classroom spaces:
- Seating Arrangement:
Always opt for seating arrangements that allow for greater flow of ideas, equity, group discussions and collaborative learning. Some of the most efficient seating arrangements proven till date are as follows: semi-circular, circular and in groups. Try to have light and handy furniture in the classroom as it can be easily moved depending upon the need. Avoid cluttering the class with too many tables and provide ample space for thinking and moving freely.
2. Creative Corners and Common Supplies:
Create small and meaningful corners in your classrooms. Some of the most useful ones are:
- Reading Corner: with a small library of age appropriate books
- Writing Corner: with writing prompts- photographs, news reports, objects, and tools of writing- empty post cards, greeting cards, sheets of paper, post-its and stationery
- Let’s Create Corner: with classroom dry waste, stationery, colors and papers
- Solve-It Corner: with puzzles, educational games and riddle books
Give exciting names to each of these, and do not forget to put up the rules and regulations at each of these corners. The supplies could be put in a box to be used when needed. This would teach students agency, choice, self- discipline and taking initiative. For inculcating greater sense of ownership and shared learning, you could also ask students to contribute in these resources and duties of taking charge.
3. Students’ Work On Display:
Just the way we prefer displaying the photographs of our near and dear ones at our homes, students also need to find acceptance and reflection of their selves in their classrooms. There is no better way of making students fall in love with their classroom than to display their very own work! This practice not only makes them feel emotionally connected to their classroom space, but also lets them feel acknowledged, heard, seen, accepted and do continuously better. Use whatever you can to display their work- floor, wall, windows, doors, cupboards and corners.
4. Classroom Culture:
Put up all the rules, norms and reminders up on the wall for everyone to see. You could also put up the names of students responsible for different things. And how about evaluating the class/ groups/ students every day for their conduct and behavior?
5. Variety is the Spice of Life:
Do not get stuck with the same displays. Keep rotating them. As soon as students create something new, let them display it! You do not need to devote all your time in this. Just pick some volunteers, and let them do it. Just like the classroom displays, rotate students on various duties too. Remember, no student should be left behind and remain unrepresented. Your classroom should be a continuously evolving space. Encourage students to share their ideas too about designing classroom spaces. You will be amazed!
A clean, spacious, bright, colorful, well-lit, and well-ventilated classroom is loved by all. These are the most basic and essential features of a happy classroom experience. Do everything that you can do for this; ask for students’ ideas too. Starting with bright lights, some windows, few plants and a dustbin will be a great idea!