Getting Started with New Learning Spaces.

I'm asked frequently about how to get started thinking about ways to approach teaching and learning in new spaces.

Consider three approaches to get started:

1.  Improve what you do already.  This is the logical place to start and its the most comfortable for most teachers.  New spaces, and the new furniture in them, generally provide a more flexible and agile experience, so take advantage of that.  For instance, how can you use these characteristics to get better at helping kids learn collaboration skills? 

Don't stop there.

2.  Do things that you wanted to do, but just couldn't.  The spaces you and your students worked in just wouldn't permit it.  Now they can so now is the time to try.

And, the most challenging, because it's a step in a new direction...

3.  Do things you've never imagined before.  Being in new spaces can open your eyes to new directions and approaches.  I've seen this a number of times with educators I have worked with.  How do new spaces serve as a catalyst for innovative thought and practice?  How can new spaces enable you and your kids to do things you've never considered?

Most importantly, consider a year in new spaces a "prototype year."  Try things and put them into play.  Course correct and fix what didn't work.  Give yourself permission to iterate and learn about how contemporary learning spaces work.  Do this, and you'll be amazed at how much you learn over the year and how nuanced your thinking has become about how space influences learning.  And, have your kids help in the design.  They know how they like to learn, give them choices and have them become co-designers with you to create spaces that will create new conditions for teaching and learning.  Have fun learning about space and design!