The students in your school need classrooms that enable choice, encourage exploration, and provide opportunities for multiple modes of learning and instruction. Follow these five tips to create engaging classrooms that promote effective instruction and maximize learning.
1. Try Flexible Seating Arrangements
Allowing students the freedom to choose where and how they sit can improve both behavior and academic achievement. Flexible seating arrangements can feature a variety of seating options, including stackable chairs, floor seating, wobble stools, or soft seating — whatever works best in your classroom.
Educators are seeing impressive results when their students feel like they have an individual micro-space within the classroom and they are empowered to choose where they do their best work. According to teacher Julie Ballew, “With flexible seating, small behavior problems ended almost immediately, and the amount of stamina my students had for increased work increased rapidly.”
To learn more about how to implement flexible seating arrangements and create engaging classrooms, download “An Educator’s Guide to Flexible Seating” and explore a flexible seating classroom in virtual reality.
2. Offer Height-Adjustable Options
There are several reasons to offer a variety of height options for the workspaces in your classroom.
- Students come in various shapes and sizes, and not all students grow at the same rate. What might work for one second-grader might be uncomfortable for another.
- Just like adults, children’s preferences and comfort levels differ. One student might find it uncomfortable to sit all day, while another feels most comfortable sitting on the floor for long stretches.
- Having a range of options helps students lead healthier lives by promoting movement and allowing them to adjust their ergonomics throughout the day.
- Offering tiered levels of seating can also enhance students’ ability to see and interact with their teacher, as it increases sightlines throughout the room.
Combine adjustable wobble stools, floor-level seating, standing options, and chairs with flexible backs to allow students to use your classroom creatively and to collaborate in different ways.
3. Rearrange at the Drop of a Hat
Up until the last decade, school furniture has been heavy and difficult to rearrange. But as technology and instructional practices continue to evolve, educational spaces are evolving as well. Enter lightweight materials and a real game-changer — casters.
Making classroom furnishings mobile, including student desks, teacher desks, and storage units, gives teachers the ability to adapt their rooms for different instructional practices throughout the day. Students can go from whole-class instruction to small-group work to independent learning in minutes by simply rearranging their workspaces.
This ability to instantly rearrange promotes collaboration, student discussion, and deeper conversations. It also gives you the freedom to focus on small groups of students while others are working independently.
4. Consider Color and Clutter
Too often educators are stuck with a traditional cinder-block classroom environment and struggle to create a comfortable, calming atmosphere for their students. Just like our homes and offices, color and aesthetics go a long way in creating an engaging environment that attracts instead of distracts.
One way to use color to bring a cohesive feel to your classroom is to apply accent colors to walls and then carry that color through your furnishings. This can add vibrancy to your space without feeling chaotic.
Educational design expert Dr. Bob Dillon also recommends looking for ways to declutter your classroom. “Look for 10 items in the room that aren’t supporting the learning or are detracting from learning and remove them,” says Dillon.
Reducing this clutter will help your students focus. This is something we all experience in our day-to-day work environments, and that same dynamic applies to student environments and learning dynamics.
5. Use Your Walls Strategically
If you’re able to remove some of the visual distractions from your walls, use the opportunity to add writable surfaces. Writable surfaces promote ideation, problem-solving, and collaboration. For more on this, read “3 Reasons You Need Whiteboards in Your Library or Classroom.”
There are multiple options for vertical whiteboards, from stationary boards to mobile boards to removable lapboards that hang on the wall. All of these options can help you create a multidirectional classroom where you can teach from anywhere in the room.
Create One-of-a-Kind Spaces
You have many types of learning environments in your school, and there are so many new and interesting educational furnishings to help you make them unique. You can combine tiered seating with mobile tables and chairs, media tables with active seating, or writable surfaces with mobile storage. Building this individuality into your learning spaces can create collaboration opportunities and ensure you are building effective and engaging classrooms.
Not sure what’s out there? Demco learning environment consultants can help assess your needs and provide recommendations that fit within your budget.
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