Designing Learning Spaces Is Not About The Space

Several months ago I presented on designing innovative learning spaces. As I continue down the path about idea learning conditions, makerspaces, cultures of inquiry, etc. I thought it was time to share this reflection I typed up to spur some summer discussion.

“Design an Innovative Learning Space”

This was my first time presenting on this topic so to say I was nervous was an understatement. I woke up at 3 am to make sure I was ready to go for the day. I headed out to Ames, Iowa around 4:15 and before I knew it I was up and ready to go.

I started off this session by having the audience draw their rooms and offices. I had them speak and interact with one another about their spaces and make connections. I wanted them to be challenged, to share the good, question the bad, and walk away with new ideas that would cost them zero dollars.

As I continued this session and we explored many new ways to design the revelation really hit home for them and for me. This whole notion of learning spaces is not about the room. You can make the smallest, ugliest, or most unlikely space a powerful learning space if you can deliver as an educator. Learning spaces do the following

  • create a feeling of safety
  • create comfort in trying new things
  • not being ashamed for being wrong or failing
  • excite the student to learn
  • create an unique atmosphere unlike any other room

You can see my slides and what I shared here

I won’t go into everything I shared as that would lead to a very long post, but I want to drive home the notion of two very important things.

1. To change our learning spaces requires no money

2. To change our learning spaces start with our inner selves

Start small and change something that is easy. Try teaching from a different wall. Get away from the “front” of your room. Move the desks to face a different direction.

Play music when they walk in.

Once you do small things you can step up the challenge by removing your teacher desk, upgrading furniture, painting, etc.

What I want to learn from you is how to do you design your learning space? How is your learning space branded where kids don’t feel like they are walking into another pastel prison like they have been doing their whole education career?

I would love to talk more with those of you who want to talk. I am beyond fascinated with this whole notion as I strive to make Coffeechug Cafe an unique environment. Just today a teacher was in my room getting coffee and told me he loved my room because everyday it looks different.


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