Practice Makes Perfect: Education Spaces

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Learn from Linda
Aug 7, 2019 JJCA Lessons Learned

Our education practice leader Linda Mark has learned a thing or two about designing elementary classroom spaces. After all, Linda has been designing education spaces for 15 years and has been involved in more than 25 education projects. So when we quizzed her on must-haves for elementary classrooms, she came up wih a list of five right on the spot.

Smaller “Nook” Spaces
With newer classrooms ranging from 800-900 square feet, young children enjoy having an area that feels more intimate than the overall classroom. Providing a “nook” where 1-2 children can read, write or draw helps provide a break from the busy classroom experience. This can be as simple as arranging low shelving with floor cushions which still provides visibility from teacher to student, or something more elaborate such as a loft space or deepened window sills that students can sit on.

Flexible Spaces
Each classroom needs to provide the same starting point but allow for a variety of arrangements to accommodate each teacher's unique style in interacting successfully with students. When enough square footage is provided for the classroom, this individuality is often seen in how the furniture is positioned within the room

Natural Lighting
Finding a proper balance in providing windows for outdoor views versus wall space for displaying instructional materials and student work is an art. Traditional classrooms with window sills several feet above the floor provide wall space for low shelving but this blocks outdoor views for young students who may be sitting on the floor. Extending non-operable windows to the floor expands the view at all levels and brings in more natural light.

Rapid changes in technology pretty much guarantee that what we have in a classroom today will not be the same as what we'll want and need in just a few short years. But there are a few constants, like considering the age of the students and providing mounting heights for monitors that are height-appropriate. Additionally, providing technology that engages students is likely to be important for the long term. Today, that might mean the ability to project words onto the floor to provide an interactive opportunity to engage during circle time. Tomorrow, that might mean something totally different so providing conduit sleeves and future connections to accommodate for future needs is critical.

Maximizing classroom space for teaching is ideal. While storage within the classroom should easily accommodate daily supplies, a central storage area per grade or floor is useful for items that are used monthly/a few times a year.

We give you an A+ Linda: that's a list that should fill in a lot of blanks!

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