Luisa Freeman , Oct 18, 2019

When thinking about school-related stress, the first thought that often comes to mind is the stresses students face. Much less discussed, however, is the pressure placed on teachers, who are expected to push students to succeed amid tight budgets, debated salaries, and sometimes, chaotic classrooms.

To combat these factors, great leaps have been made in the digitally-assisted side of learning (in the past, we’ve talked about the solutions to blended learning roadblocks and the challenges to digital learning programs) but there’s a completely different side of classroom improvement that is gaining traction quickly.

In recent times, the rise of concepts such as minimalism and Marie Kondo-preached de-cluttering exercises have brought about a shift in perspective – particularly, the correlation between a clean headspace and clean room space. Designers are evaluating the spaces of our everyday lives, evolving the interiors of hospitals, hotels, libraries, and as you may have guessed…classrooms.

Poor Classroom Design: An Issue Worth Addressing

It’s been long understood that factors such as room acoustics, color, desk arrangement, and lighting can all play a significant role in the student learning process. But now educators have raised their own voices to share how integral the physical design of the classroom is to improving productivity and wellbeing.

To give you an idea, one in every four teachers cites poor classroom design as a major source of stress. This stress rivals other stresses including the added pressure to perform and a lack of general support from school administrators.

Unfortunately, many schools have yet to set clear objectives in place to create environments to support all of the work that teachers put in.

Too often, decision makers are putting off the issues of the classroom as secondary issues to be solved, or even suggesting that the problems teachers bring up aren’t pressing at all. But imagine if a parent were to be shared the earlier statistic; it’s clear that persistent dissatisfaction with room design is leaving a lasting negative impact on teachers, which directly impacts the education of students.

Poor classroom design shows itself in ugly ways: from crammed desks to inadequate power outlets to messy extension cords literally being taped to the floor to prevent falling. There’s not just one fix, so what are teachers looking for?

Based on a Corgan study, which collected from responses of 1,000 K-12 teachers, these changes fall into 4 categories of consideration:

1. Flexibility

There’s no question that greater flexibility is one of the most commonly requested changes when teachers were asked about their ideal classroom. Considering the variety of emerging learning models, the educator in today’s classroom comes prepared with a variety of different styles to engage with each individual student as they cover the material.

With teachers being this flexible, forward-thinking schools are ensuring that their classrooms also reflect this flexibility. Examples of this include spaces with easily-accessible tech tools and well-arranged furniture to facilitate open collaboration. The goal should be creating adaptable spaces to serve both the teaching methods of your teachers and learning preferences of your students, with enough room to work in future edtech solutions that will continue influencing both parties’ work. Solutions proven to complement the flexibility of teachers in the classroom include SmartBoards, 3D Printers, Makerspaces, Virtual Reality (VR) Headsets, and laptop and Chromebook desk chargers.

2. Professionalism

68% of teachers said if they were to look for a job at another school, classroom design would be a factor. What this statistic should say to schools is that teachers are worth investing in, be it through training and development, digital learning programs, or elevated classroom design.

As classrooms are often youth-oriented (appropriately so), giving teachers professional spaces will not go unappreciated. Popular amenities fitting into school designs are currently taking the form of wellness and training rooms, refreshment areas, and phone booths. When designing budget-friendly amenities for your school, the goal should first be considering every teacher pain point, then assessing the positive emotional and functional aspects of the amenity.

3. Collaboration

When thinking about collaboration as a focus in schools, it’s usually based around students working together on activities. Dedicated collaborative spaces for teachers, though, open up all of the possibilities that come with a more unified faculty: friendship, mentorship, personal and professional development, problem solving, and inspired discussions covering countless teaching insights and experiences.

Picture what they could bring with them into the classroom for their students with close connections to other equally-inspired teachers outside of the classroom. Every teacher looks to be the best they can be when it comes to effectively teaching and engaging students; a school designing spaces for open collaboration is a step in the right direction when it comes to this.

4. Personalization

Four out of five teachers say that the physical state of their classroom plays a direct role in their ability to be a good teacher. Poor classroom designs can lower both personal well-being and fulfillment in their day-to-day. The time a teacher spends in their classroom extends beyond just class time – think about tutoring, grading, and prepping for parent-teacher meetings.

Design plays a huge factor in a teacher’s ability to do all of these duties. Any workplace can affect the regular productivity, engagement, and satisfaction of the individual. The same applies to schools. For teachers, the ability to control simple things such as the lighting, temperature, desk height, and edtech can make all of the difference, empowering them customize their room to match the current activity or lesson.

Design Matters

In every industry, great design has been shown to heighten performance through contributing to feelings of wellbeing, productivity, and focus. With the pressure placed on teachers growing over each year, it only makes sense to turn to school design as a practical, actionable solution to inspire better results for our students, teachers, and communities.

Historically, schools have made great strides to foster student growth and development, but it’s clear school leaders have been less enthused when seeking out changes in classroom aesthetics, even when teachers have made clear what these changes can mean. Inevitably, well-designed schools will attract (and keep) top talent in the rising competition of the educational landscape, with design being a major differentiator for your school. Teachers can be empowered through training and development, better tools, and yes, even better classroom layouts. For a school seeking to be better, the positive effects of better classroom design are not only felt by teachers, but ultimately shared by their students. Design is essential in not only the performance the student and teacher, but the school overall.

When looking at how technology fits into classroom design, consider supporting student and staff devices with powerful charging stations. It’s important that the cell phone charging station company has experience working with classroom environments like yours, so make sure the company you consider purchasing from has a history of building branded cell phone charging stations for schools. For K-12 schools across the country, KwikBoost has designed a multitude of charging stations, the most recent in the charging line being the KwikBoost EdgePower™. – a cord-free solution to power student devices in a safe and flexible way.

To discuss classroom-specific charging solutions with KwikBoost, give us a call today at 866-325-7137 and learn how your classroom can benefit from charging solutions.

Category: K-12
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