Educational methods have continually evolved over the years, but the classroom design remained largely the same: student desks lined up in rows facing the teacher. While teachers can certainly educate their students with this traditional layout, new and creative classroom designs offer educators more freedom to explore other teaching methods. Once they break away from a traditional classroom design, teachers often feel more effective and creative as well.
There is no single blueprint for a creative classroom design. However, there should be an emphasis on flexibility. A creative classroom should allow for whole-group activities as well as small group and individual instruction. Since many classrooms have limited space, the furniture should be easily movable. Items on wheels make adapting learning areas much easier. Desks, tables, beanbag chairs, sofas, and more can all be used effectively in a creative classroom and give students choices, making them feel more invested in their education.
Technology is only one component of a creative classroom, but it’s an important one. Students need easy access to laptops and/or tablets as well as a well-lighted and comfortable place to use them. Many classrooms incorporate a technology bar that can accommodate a number of scholars without taking over the entire room.
Creative classroom designs also incorporate unique storage methods, such as supply towers placed in each small group area, eliminating many disruptions and sparking more creativity in the students. A relatively small classroom can contain three or four separate learning areas where students can collaborate with their peers and still receive instruction from the teacher.
Experts recommend brightly colored and interactive use of wall space, but warn that too many items on the walls can distract younger children from the task at hand. However, effective use of wall space, and even ceiling space, can expand the learning environment, allowing teachers to post helpful math charts or vocabulary words where students can easily see them.
The only true rule for a creative classroom is that it accommodates a number of learning approaches. Teachers are then able to use more of their individual talents when they design lesson plans. They may be better able to accommodate different types of students, such as introverts versus extroverts.
Research shows that teachers modify their teaching methods according to the design of their classroom. When classrooms contain various learning centers, such as tech bars and small group seating, instruction must be more focused on student-led learning. According to one New York teacher, small group efforts led to more participation from students, allowing them to find their voices and interact better with their peers. With these classrooms, teachers spend less time lecturing and more time facilitating learning, allowing them to use their talents and training.
Comfortable chairs, and even sofas, in the classroom do not distract from learning but seem to enhance it. Students are able to listen without being lined up in a row. Movable pieces allow the instructor to arrange the classroom differently depending on the day’s needs. This flexibility means teachers are freer to use their creativity as well, combining all-class activities with more individualized learning. And altering the layout of a creative classroom is time-efficient. Teachers aren’t daunted by the thought of moving dozens of heavy desks for a particular activity.
As teaching methods and technology continues to evolve and change with the times, perhaps the classroom environment should as well. A creative classroom can help students operate according to their strengths. And variety in learning keeps students engaged.
If your local brick-and-mortar school does not provide a more modern, creative classroom design, you may want to consider other school options for your child. Enrolling your child in a virtual public school would allow you to create your own creative classroom at home! Learn more about online learning at K12.com and request more information about virtual schools in your state.
All images courtesy of Steelcase, copyright Steelcase 2018, used with permission.