Willunga Primary Spaces for Learning
You may have noticed that many of our classrooms look different from your experiences as a student. The days of groups or rows all facing the white board while the teacher stands at the front to share their knowledge are swiftly moving into the past. Classrooms today require dynamic learning environments where students could be working at a variety of tasks and have space for student collaboration to be the main activity.
So why is the furniture so important?
Standard classroom setups leave very little space for moving around. In fact, their very structure ensures students will spend the majority of their day sitting in the one spot, and only communicating with the few people around them. They tend to have a teacher directed style of working (one you may remember from your own childhood) and not allow flexible groupings or activities. These spaces only work if all students are working on the same task at the same time (often with the same outcome for all!).
So what are we doing at Willunga?
We have recognized the importance of spaces for learning to encourage participation in the learning environment. We started in most class spaces by clearing out as much excess furniture as possible to ensure there is enough room in classes to work collaboratively. We then searched for furniture options that would enable classes to work through our school focus on collaboration and developing oral language. In each classroom, we have begun to replace old style oblong desks and chairs with a variety of furniture in each space. We have also tried to grab back some space in our often crowded classrooms (they are not big spaces for 30 people to share!) with some clever furniture choices.
Our focus for doing this is not just on making attractive classroom spaces (although that is important) but in providing learning environments in which students will have an opportunity to work in different ways and with different people over their school day.
This is a work in progress as we are using fundraising money to purchase and update our furniture. However, the changes we have made so far are exciting and it is delightful to walk through classrooms and see students communicating ideas, sharing plans and being actively involved in their own learning. They look very different to the classrooms I remember from my time at school!