Today, students learn while on the move. They have different academic needs, challenging schools to accommodate a wide variety of learners. Through the dramatic changes in education over the past century, it has become clear that there are more innovative ways to teach. These styles of teaching can support the colorful variety of learners. Though education has rapidly shifted, the classroom environment has tended to stay the same. Schools must rise to the challenge and evolve to meet the needs of a diverse student population. This begins with setting up the learning environment to be flexible and adaptable to fit students’ needs.
What are the most effective environments for learning?
Effective environments are those that are organized to reflect operational practices of the school. Each school has a slightly different personality and way of educating. This should be reflected throughout the school. Teachers need to design their classrooms to meet their specific student group’s needs. Younger students have vastly different needs than older students do.
Small children move around more and therefore need more flexible options. Creating different areas will support their needs throughout the day. Teachers can build sitting areas, desk or table studying areas, and creative art areas. Older children tend to stay more still, thus needing less diverse options. Creating more relaxed study areas alongside the desks they will use for concentrated learning will achieve this.
What makes an effective learning environment?
Collaborative environments are the way we accomplish tasks in our modern era. With globalization, we have developed ways of interacting that are different from anything we have done in the past. This is also evident in the classroom. Research shows that students learn better in flexible and adaptable learning environments and curriculum in classrooms is working hard to catch up. Here are a few of the ways that schools are working to support students:
1. Resources are more accessible to students than ever before. Today’s students have access to far more opportunities thanks to the internet. Changing classroom structures allow for students to investigate their interests and fosters overall curiosity. The growing trend of building community partnerships means that students can work with community members to learn new skills, as well.
2. Teams of teachers are working collaboratively to focus on smaller groups of students. It’s true that many students don’t perform as well in large classrooms with little individual attention. When students are paired into small, collaborative groups, they have the ability to learn in more diverse ways than older teaching styles. Teams of teachers allow for this collaborative space and students can still ask questions and work together for deeper learning.
3. A variety of space types are offering groups of students and teachers diverse places for diverse needs.Teachers are now creating spaces in their classrooms so that students can meet all of their needs. Some students do better in casual, conversational spaces. Others need a quiet desk in a corner away from the action. Through creating a student-centered classroom, teachers can meet everyone’s needs including their own.
4. Studies show that well thought-out furnishings and layouts contribute to increased learning and performance. At the core of flexible classrooms is student furniture. An environment must be designed to encourage collaborative learning styles. The way teachers create their classroom spaces matters. Furniture invites students to spaces, encouraging them to engage in specific ways.
How to choose school furnishings for a flexible learning environment:
There are a variety of furnishing styles you can choose for your classroom to encourage flexible learning. Of course, these choices will look different depending on the ages of the students. Younger students need more opportunities to curl up in a corner with a book, artistically explore a blank canvas with watercolors, or recite math facts while doing jumping jacks. Older students need a simpler mix of casual and formal learning spaces. Here are a few furniture options that will help you build your flexible learning environment, no matter the ages of your students:
Adjustable Height Desks
Desks are the cornerstones of classrooms. But they can be rigid and inflexible. Thus, adjustable height desks provide the perfect solution to more formal learning spaces with the ability to meet diverse needs. Their adjustability means that they are designed for students of all ages. They also provide a convenient option for presentations and make for great teacher work stations. The desks come in varying heights, ensuring they are a great option for small children to adults.
Dynamic learning spaces allow for changing classroom dynamics. When a whiteboard is attached to the wall, it prevents the flexibility needed to use it effectively as a teaching tool. Rolling whiteboards come to the rescue when an impromptu learning conversation requires a drawn diagram. Or students need to present in a space that isn’t near a whiteboard wall. Rolling whiteboards offer the kind of flexibility that encourages engaged students and makes it easier and more fun to learn!
Adjustable Activity Tables
Students benefit from having places to spread out during an activity. Sometimes individual student desks are just not big enough for materials needed for assignments and activities, especially activities that require group collaboration. These situations call for activity tables. Adjustable activity tables can be manipulated to varying heights, accommodating all ages.
Adjustable activity tables are also great for setting up multimedia presentations, offering plenty of space for mobile computers and projectors. They also encourage collaborative learning by offering communal spaces for students to interact.
Chairs are a necessity in a classroom environment and can be moved around the room to accommodate various situations. Students can work quietly alone at a desk, sit together around a table, or sit in rows or circles while listening to a presentation. Sometimes, though, the learning environment calls for chairs to be moved out of the way altogether.
This is when stacking chairs are a necessity. Designate a place in your classroom where chairs can be stacked away from everyday movement. This will allow your students to stand, do an artistic presentation, or spread out on the ground. Flexibility means that the classroom is ready for any kind of scenario that student learning adventures demand.
The most flexible classroom considers the ways that furniture will be used and how it can be put away when not in use. Tables are a core part of learning. But they can also get in the way. Folding tables ensure that you can make room in your classroom when you need it. Flip top tables give you the quality and durability of sturdy classroom furniture, while also offering the option of flattening in order to be put away. This means your students can go from creating paper mache masks to putting on a theatrical play in just minutes.
Today’s educators want (and need!) to provide innovative and evidence-based learning environments. Students can have drastically different learning styles which means that the standard classrooms of desks all in a row, facing a chalkboard, are not as relevant or beneficial anymore. To offer the best learning environment for your students, make it flexible. Not every child has the exact same needs and the classroom environment should reflect their growing interests and support their budding curiosity. By selecting furnishings that support flexible learning, you are promoting incredible learning adventures with your students every day. Contact us today and let us help make a flexible learning environment at your school a reality!