Classrooms have changed a lot since most of us were at school. But have you ever wondered how and why classrooms have moved away from industrial carpet and pinboards to glass walls and couches?
It’s not just aesthetics, explains Galilee Catholic Primary School Bondi Principal Anna Novak, whose own school has recently undergone a modern makeover to reflect the latest educational design practice.
1. Fully furnished
At Galilee Catholic Primary School, every classroom contains an array of different furniture, to ensure the right items are always available for different types of activities.
Forget a standard desk – booths, ottomans, stools, chairs and high and low tables ensure students are comfortable while they work.
“The classroom configuration is guided by the different types of furniture,” Ms Novak said “with a range of a high and low tables and chairs.”
“Adjustable furniture leads to increased comfort and wellbeing, and enhances the flexibility of the learning space.”
2. Let’s get flexible
Modern classrooms are transitioning away from static, one-child-behind-each-desk-for-the- entire-day scenarios, to embrace more interactive layouts. This allows teachers to re-organise their rooms dependant on whether tasks require students to work alone, in groups or all-together.
This flexible learning allows teachers to group children in different areas of the room and work with them in groups based on interests or ability, or to re-arrange things easily to accommodate physical activities.
3. A clear line of sight
The change in the way modern classrooms are designed has had a great impact on children’s wellbeing in the way they interact with their teachers.
Open plan layouts allow teachers to be accessible to students at all times, and to move easily around the room while always keeping every child in their line of sight.
“This results in improved behavior, learning, and growth in achievement,” Ms Novak said, “and mutual respect between the teacher and students.
4. Walls can talk
Classroom walls are blank canvases for showcasing students work. They teach and inspire students through rich language and anchor charts, interactive bulletin
boards and bump it up walls.
Having beautiful creative spaces that inspire students daily and reinforce learning outcomes allows students to be happier and more receptive to learning.
5. Take-home tips
Establishing positive homework habits is critical for success at school – and Ms Novak said some of the strategies teachers employ can be used at home to make homework less of a battle.
By creating the right environment, you encourage children to enjoy their space and build positive associations with their learning. Remove or minimise stressors or distractions, ensure they have all the necessary materials, and choose a spot you can supervise.
Let your child help you set up their space, and check in with them regularly to see if they still think it suits them. As at school, be flexible – they don’t need to sit down if they don’t want to!
“Some children work better if they are able to stand or move around/walk while doing activities such as reading, memorizing, or being quizzed,” Ms Novak said. “Try it out with your child to see what works.”
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Students at Galilee Catholic Primary School are making thinking visible with their new whiteboard tables. Students can collaborate by drawing ideas, planning,
writing, brainstorming and mind-mapping and then getting to work.