In my contemplation of learning spaces as opposed to traditional classrooms, I’ve spent some time thinking about places that I feel most creative. Starbucks (or a similar place), my daughters’ dance studio, and my living room seem to be the most creative places in my life and here’s why:
- Music: all three places have interesting music playing (or at the very least, background noise)
- People: I really enjoying working with others and find that being able to converse in a relaxed setting allows my creative process to flow. It provides me with the chance to test out my theories, observations, as well as plan with a peer or group of friends. It’s a safe and comfortable place to share my thinking.
- Vibe: one of my favourite aspects of the dance studio is the passion that the place exudes. The dancers love being there and it’s almost as though the building comes alive. It’s a wonderfully creative place.
With these ideas in mind, I’ve tried to replicate the same experiences for my students working within the framework I have at Cameron. We have tables to promote collaboration. They are five sided and can stand alone or piece together in a variety of fashions. We have whiteboards on all the walls of the classroom. The old and ugly bulletin boards and chalk boards are now bright and students are free to use them during class. I have also purchased bright markers that bring colour into our space. I have a small foam couch that expands out so students can sit on the floor pain free. Finally, I often play music in the room as the ambience it provides is important to the space.
It’s by no means perfect and there are issues I can’t fix. We don’t have windows and are restricted to fluorescent lighting. We almost always have one bank of lights off but it doesn’t make up for sunshine.
I also realize that budgetary restrictions are a very real issue for schools and feel so fortunate that my classroom has those upgrades. Hopefully the physical space does become a priority and we see more upgrades around the schools as in my opinion, it’s important for our learners.