School’s classrooms must be places whose atmosphere establishes a sense of security, ownership, and comfort in order for learning to be optimized. Children can and do learn in places where they say to themselves, “I feel comfortable here; I am comfortable here.” This is accomplished by having a classroom design that accommodates learners’ preferences for where they sit and areas in the room for their use.
In the school or academic setting, classroom management relies partially on the physical configuration of the room and also on the environment being conducive to social interaction. Thoughtful arrangement of the indoor and outdoor environments will support your learning goals for students.
That classroom design is not just about furniture in different places, but a room configured to provide areas for students to work in ways that meet their needs. Ultimately, the room design impacts on whether students have a sense of belonging in the classroom setting.
Many years ago, classroom had certain physical limitations. Those physical limitations impacted instruction in that they were stringent, due partially to the lack of flexibility of the room’s furniture. For example, desks and bench-type seats were secured to the floor, which did not provide for movement of them into different configurations for, let’s say, small-group work. A section of the room was built to accommodate coats and outerwear with closets. Most often books were stored in either desk drawers or the desk top, which lifted upward.
Now, the classroom setting has changed dramatically. Today’s classrooms could have the opportunity to have television, computers, Internet access, phones, and whiteboards with use of markers, Smart boards, new desk arrangements, etc. Also, teachers and students could feel comfortable and cozy in the classroom and teachers can reconfigure the room’s furniture to meet students’ needs.
Classroom ownership, for students and their teachers, results from having a sense of belonging. This occurs when a classroom design fosters and promotes the idea of elasticity through knowing that the physical environment is reconfigurable, shared, and invitational to learning.
There are two types of classroom design: The Traditional Classroom Design, and the Nontraditional Classroom Design.
· Components of Traditional Classroom Design: Physical Setting
This classroom has, at its core, a design that is structured and set in place throughout the school year. The students’ desks and hard chairs are organized, with one being behind the other. The students face the teacher’s desk, which is customarily in the front of the room and well within the line of vision of all his/her students.
· Components of Traditional Classroom Design: Instruction
The students’ attention is focused on the teacher, because looking at the back of someone’s head is certainly less appealing. Regularly, the teacher stands in the front of the room and primarily uses a lecturing presentation style of delivery. This is referred to as direct instruction, where students most often are the passive recipients of information. The classroom instruction is teacher-centered and subsequently teacher-controlled.
· The Nontraditional Classroom Design: Physical Setting
The students’ desks are arranged in a U shape or semicircle, circles, or clusters, students are primarily looking at one another. Possibly, there’s a section of the room where a carpeted “comfy corner” has been provided. Flip-style seats, or beanbags, a rocking chair or two, and/or cushioned television-style seating are present.
· The Nontraditional Classroom Design: Instruction
The teacher delivers lessons using varied and/or multiple styles of delivery in different parts of the room. These may include anecdotes, storytelling, small-group collaborative exercises, hands-on activities involving the entire class, partnerships, some individualization, and/or learning centers where the teacher serves as lesson facilitator.