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For School at Home Consider the Environment

Posted by 
Mitch Weathers
 on 
July 22, 2020

What environment makes you feel most comfortable when you're learning? Was it a certain classroom, or a cafe? Perhaps a park? How does that physical space look? What are the sounds, if any? How does it smell? What kind of light fills the room? Ask yourself why it was that you enjoyed the process of learning in that particular space versus somewhere else.

As more and more districts announce plans to remain in distance learning, this question is more important than ever. We need to take into consideration what spaces are most conducive for learning.

I have had the privilege over the last decade to visit many different kinds of schools all around the country. They range from tiny rural schools, to schools in huge urban districts like Los Angeles Unified or Chicago Public Schools. Schools in sprawling suburban districts like Elk Grove Unified. Private schools, Charter schools, Nonpublic schools. County run schools in incarceration facilities. Schools housed in office complexes or former storefronts. Fully online schools. Even experimental outdoor schools with no classrooms. One thing I have learned from all of these school visits is that the environment in which we engage in teaching and learning matters!

There is not one single learning environment that is "best" for every student. Of course there are basic tenants of spaces fit for learning - they should be comfortable, have enough light, hopefully heated or cooled as needed, sturdy furniture, to name a few.

As we begin to plan for distance-learning this fall I urge you to take some time to consider what learning environment you will create for your children at home. Just defining "when" you will do school each day falls short. If you are an educator, perhaps create a short list of "things to consider" for creating a space for learning at home and share it with the families you serve.

This is an area we can glean insight from the homeschool community. For families who do school from home full-time, the consideration of how space looks, feels, smells, sounds, and even tastes (yes, perhaps consider fun treats that are part of the home "classroom" that are enticing) is paramount. A few other aspects to get your wheels turning about this learning space:

  • How will you organize school work? A folder? A file cabinet? A binder? (we can help here)
  • What supplies might be helpful? Sticky notes, paper, pencils, color pencils, pens, a ruler, art supplies, tape, three-holed punch, whiteboard(s), chalkboard(s) etc.
  • A calendar for the week or month?

Consider taking some time this summer to research and create a learning space for your children (or suggestions to share with families of the students in your class(es) or school) that works for your home. No one knows how long we will be required to stay in a remote learning scenario and defining a comfortable home classroom that promotes engagement can really help us be successful.

I realize that not all families have a spare room to convert (my family's 1200 sqft certainly doesn't). But just have some fun with it, get creative within the confines of your home to create a learning space for your children. Keep in mind home classrooms can be "pop-up classrooms", just like hip farmers markets, as long as the set up and breakdown are not too time or energy intensive - aka keep it simple!

If this is resonating with you please comment on this article with ideas we can share! I would really appreciate it.

Your partner in bettering education,

Mitch

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