Culture is critical in producing the results you want from your educators and learners. While leaders can take a starring role in building a school culture, the learning environment itself influences culture as well. Here’s how you can help create the culture you want to see in your school–using just the learning environment.
The traditional “sit and get” classroom design encourages learners to be silent and receive information. It’s not the ideal design for encouraging learners to be creative, collaborative, and Life Ready. In fact, these outdated learning environments can hinder student growth, reflecting in poor test scores and lower career readiness. When students are bored, disengaged, and immobile, their ability to learn and retain information is inhibited as a result.
We can encourage students to grow their Life Ready skills by making a few adjustments to the classroom and allowing them to become more involved in their learning.
Student-focused seating is group-oriented. Position desks in groups instead of isolated rows. If you have the budget, consider round furniture to encourage more student collaboration. Many furniture options come with media integrations, which makes student and teacher communication easier than ever before. Movable furniture is another great option: it gives students the flexibility to choose their learning environment and to move as they need.
Amazing things happen when your classroom environment puts the power back into learners’ hands. Encourage their natural curiosity by placing them in an environment that promotes inquiry and collaboration. It will help create a high performance culture with a focus on growth mindset.
When we talk about schools and culture, we usually focus on the classroom. But students aren’t the only people in school: your staff and administrators benefit from an innovative environment, too.
Mimic your students’ environment in staff environments. Have round tables to encourage collaboration during meetings and staff development instead of solitary desks or tables lined up in rows. Consider investing in a lounge or break room that encourages casual encounters. Supply snacks, comfortable chairs, and quiet areas for contemplation. Your staff is more likely to chat and collaborate about work or projects in a comfortable area that caters to their needs. And when staff members are able to collaborate, they’re able to create a more cohesive vision and culture in your school.
It’s not always easy to make your learning environment reflect the culture that you want to see. Leaders have a responsibility to lead by example and to nurture their school’s culture and mission. The learning environment is an important tool for a cohesive culture to flourish. Will you grow yours or let it wilt?
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