The Great Divide: Privacy Without Boundaries

Classroom design has undoubtedly changed in the last few decades. The days of static desks and rigid student chairs placed in repetitive rows are a thing of the past. Teachers and students want to engage in environments that stimulate learning and interaction, with spaces that are comfortable and inspiring. A large part of this new trend is a philosophy that we like to call “privacy without boundaries”: spaces that are accessible yet private at the same time. In this blog post, we’ll take a look at what inspired our design team to develop products around this philosophy and provide some specific examples of how this can be applied to your classroom to create a more engaging and dynamic learning environment.

Dividing Your Classroom Space While Keeping It Integrated

The Divvy Doc Partition (a MooreCo product) being utilized in an art classroom.

Since today’s classrooms are open and fluid, we need to be creative about the ways we divide our spaces. The word ‘divider’ already establishes a boundary; an isolated space. When developing the Divvy DOC Partition, our team of designers considered three fundamental classroom needs: movement, environmental integration, and the flow of light. By incorporating acrylic panels onto the top of the Divvy DOC, light continues to flow through the room unrestricted. The individual panels can be matched to laminates and fabrics in the classroom, allowing it to blend into the environment. The flat leg design makes it ideal for stacking against the wall when it’s ready to be stored away.

The use of a mobile divider like a Divvy Doc or Glider Mobile Whiteboard allows you to create multiple designated classroom spaces without worrying about permanence. Use these to assign multiple groups of students onto different projects. When the projects are complete, simply roll the dividers against the wall to bring the entire class back together. Since these dividers are mobile, classroom configurations can be reworked at the drop of a hat.

Student to Teacher: One-On-One Interactions

The Privacy Pod (A Vanerum North America product) in an educational meeting space.

Student and teacher meetings, assessments, and behavioral management no longer have to take place across an intimidating teacher’s desk. The integration of soft seating into classrooms is a relaxed and welcoming solution for teachers and students alike. With this idea in mind, our team of designers were challenged to develop a product which could provide both the comfort of soft seating and the privacy of a divider. In response to our ‘privacy without boundaries’ philosophy, the Privacy Pod was created. The upholstered pod creates a sense of seclusion, while the entrance allows for freedom of movement. The built in table provides a personal space for the student to read and write while the teacher sits nearby, making it ideal for one-on-one interactions.

Student to Teacher: Open Interactions

The Cocoon (a Vanerum North America product) being utilized in an open concept educational space.

Teachers expect to connect with their students in an open and dynamic environment. When both the student and teacher are comfortable, conversations flow more freely and the students aren’t as timid. Circular settings, in comparison to linear ones, stimulate interaction and promote eye contact, which results in more engagement between participants. Products such as the Cocoon and Vivid encourage these interactions by fostering less formal, more relaxed environments.

When designing your classrooms, think about spaces where the “privacy without boundaries” principle can be implemented. Keep in mind that studies have shown that when students are comfortable, they learn better. Creating these spaces has never been easier with the products that are now on the market. If you have any questions about bringing this philosophy to life in your classroom, please reach out to us. We would love to help.

 

The Formula to a Flexible and Inviting Classroom? Movement & Relaxing Setups

Our last blog post talked about our design principles and how they spark creativity, comfort, and overall productivity in a learning environment. Now, let’s talk about the best practices in furniture configuration and the benefits both students and educators can get when designing their room layout.

What’s the Buzz Around Soft Seating?

Research has shown that incorporating sofas, poufs, ottomans, and couches brings a “homey” feel to an environment. This allows kids of all ages to relax, focus on a challenge, and better communicate with their peers and educators. Teachers also have the chance to sit next to their students to have one on one conversations, which are more informal and personal. Students get the chance to stretch out, lay on their stomachs, and stimulate circulation to engage in a different activity. Typically, soft seating units are placed in the corner or back of rooms as reading and concentration stations.

Mobile Boards: How Should They Be Used?

Not everyone learns at the same pace and dividing classes into small groups allows teachers to organize students according to their learning style. That’s when a small mobile board comes in handy. It helps teachers keep up with tasks, assignments, examples, and notes to keep track of students who are following different lesson plans. Mobile boards have the ability to move around the room easily, allowing students to access the board as well. Many teachers will use a couple of mobile boards in different colors and assign different “teams” or “groups” to each board.

 

Configurable Desks: You Bet!

We’ve heard it over and over, collaboration, the most important tool in modern classrooms. Desks can easily be arranged into large or small groups, lines, or circles. Each configuration can be arranged effortlessly and quickly and engages the students by making them responsible for moving their own desks. The setting can be arranged for collaborative learning or lined up for testing.

 

Grow Stools: Where Should They Go?

We know movement in classrooms helps stimulate the brain, but when and where should these products be placed? Typically, educators will place wobble stools in the back of the classroom to keep students who need movement away from the front of the class. Since the stools are height adjustable, students will be in direct eye contact with their teacher regardless of their height. Another perfect place for wobble stools is around the teacher’s desk for student assessments. The movement of the stools allows kids to settle their restlessness and engage in their tasks.

Time to Recharge!: The Power Tower

Tablets have replaced books and notebooks and students are always circulating from room to room while using these new devices. Charging carts are great – but not very accessible. A simple solution to this problem is to add a couple of small Power Towers to your classroom. These are portable and may be placed in-between desks to avoid disrupting the classroom layout and teacher’s mobility. They can also be placed among soft seating configurations in lounge areas, as well as in libraries.

Teachers Need to Move Too!

Classroom configurations should accommodate student and instructor needs. Teachers need to find the right spot to address the class, once the students are settled. Let’s keep in mind that most teachers prefer to stand while they teach, so having a stand-up unit is ideal. A compact, easy to move station with storage is an educator’s perfect solution.

From Collaboration To Community: The Times of Social Responsibility

Over the last decade, classroom environments and schools have focused on collaborative learning. Furniture companies have prioritized their research, design and production resources into developing furniture that fosters Collaboration. We all know the benefits are indisputable. Creative thinking leads to challenging thinking and open communication, establishing a trusting and safe environment in which students mentor and learn from one another. All of this is achieved by a masterful configuration of a few desks and chairs and a solid curriculum.

More recently, many schools and educators have taken it a step further. They believe Collaborative Learning is the gateway for students to develop a sense of community.  The sense of being part of, participating, engaging and contributing, not only within the confines of their classroom setting, but also in the every day aspects of their lives. Emotional intelligence is now part of our report cards, and positive social engagement is expected.

More and more schools incorporate activities that involve their students in the process. Planting green gardens, recycling materials, and even opening the doors after school hours for community programs. Renovations and new constructions now involve parents and students, they want them to feel like part of the Community.

Orangewood School: A Case Study in
Collaboration

Let’s look at Orangewood School in Phoenix, a school dear to our hearts. Two years ago Dr. Dianna Boone and Mrs. Catherine Switzer approached us seeking support to develop their under budget STEM program and freshen up their art classroom. We worked together for months, from the space planning phase through the final installations. We made sure we covered all needs based on the sizes of the rooms and age group as well, ultimately opening the doors to a fresh and easy to configure environment in which collaborative learning was at its best.

I had the privilege of visiting their facility last fall to follow up with Dianna and personally chat with students about our furniture. Little would I have guessed how Collaboration would become Community and the spirit of learning would become heightened to the spirit of living life fully. By now, the robotics program was established from 1st to 8th grade and our “room” was also used for Gifted and Talented kids.

I enjoyed hearing how the students helped assemble the furniture and came in after school hours to do so. I learned that parents helped with installations. I was delighted to watch a group of 8th graders work together on writing a letter asking for donations to fund their trip to a robotics championship. Another grade had won a championship after our “robotics” room was in full operation.  I loved to hear how Dianna and her colleagues not only walk with students in the morning to promote a healthy lifestyle but do so on weekends as well. How gratifying to learn that we transcended the responsibility of applying grade curriculum into the spirit of Community.

You see, students at this school and in many others are viewed as citizens. They are coached daily to be the best they can be, not only academically, but as part of the world they live in.

I leave you with the question asked to a group of 15 gifted and talented 1st graders at Orangewood. They were asked if they thought it was genetics or the environment that made them smarter.

After conferring, they replied:

“The Environment”

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