Posted by MooreCo Inc on Nov 4, 2020 4:21:56 PM
How We Move Forward: A Better Future for Our Nation Starts with Students
On October 22nd, MooreCo was pleased to host our Thrive Together: Creating the Classrooms of Tomorrow fall webinar. Over the course of two days, we heard from several experts from the fields of education, manufacturing, and architecture and design. Each speaker had a wealth of information to share and a palpable passion for bettering educational environments to serve our nation’s students.
After a tumultuous year, it can be difficult to see a way forward. Is it possible to create a better future for our nation by ensuring a better learning experience for all our students? The answer, according to our panel of experts, is yes. But there are many factors that will go into helping students thrive, despite the effects of learning gaps and a global pandemic. Here are the top takeaways for how to create the classrooms of the future, according to experts.
Create Equity for All Students
During the first session of our webinar, we heard from two speakers on the topic of diversity, equity, and inclusion in education. Professor of Education Leadership at Columbia University, Dr. Mark Anthony Gooden, and Eanes I.S.D Superintendent, Dr. Tom Leonard, spoke on the conditions of classrooms before and during the pandemic. Dr. Gooden pointed to the problems with existing infrastructure in schools that are underfunded. “Even before COVID, there were inequities in school buildings and structures,” says Gooden. He spoke of the systems in place that create inequity for students based on race, class, and gender that contribute to disparities in education, leaving students behind. “COVID-19 has raised this question: Do we have the opportunity to change the way we’ve been doing things? How can we serve all students more broadly?”
MooreCo Marketing Director Polly Moore suggested in our third webinar session that it’s not about having the answers, but about considering each initiative from a new perspective. A community-centered approach to caring for our nations’ students as a whole and a focus on creating an even playing field will serve all students. As Polly said, “It’s time for all of us in the educational industry, whether designers, dealers, or manufacturers to ask ourselves: how do I make sure what I’m working on is diverse, equitable, and inclusive?” Being more inclusive and mindful of the needs of all students won’t be done overnight, or by one industry. Teachers, parents, architects, designers, manufacturers, caretakers, and all those are charged with providing children with what they need will need to be aware of inequality caused by systemic failures that have existed for generations.
Focus on Holistic Design
So what does design have to do with creating a more even playing field for students? According to our experts, environments play a significant role in students’ abilities to succeed. In the third session of our webinar, MooreCo CEO Greg Moore talked about the design philosophy behind MooreCo products. He recalled a memory of being a child diagnosed with ADHD and being forced to sit in an uncomfortable chair for hours at a time in school and expected to learn.
Luckily, times have changed. Greg points to the fact that educational environments have evolved with childrens' needs, providing flexible, fun, and functional furniture that improves the lives of students and teachers. He said that for the team at MooreCo, the motivation to help began with a question. “How we can change this environment? We begin with the holistic. What kind of difference do we want to make?” For Moore and the team at MooreCo, it’s personal. We believe in the opportunity to create positive change through classroom design. As Greg said poignantly, “If we can make an impact with it, if we can change the life of students and teachers, and better the future of this nation, we’re taking it on.”
Invite in Students of All Backgrounds and Learning Abilities
Research tells us that some groups of students are left out of certain fields of study. For example, girls and students of color have struggled to be included in STEM programs. This is something that can be easily changed. Science, technology, engineering, and mathematics are not meant for only one group of students, rather, children of all backgrounds and learning abilities can be better served by integrative STEM classes like robotics. Thom Gibson is a middle school robotics teacher in Austin. He says that robotics classes help to invite more students to participate. “Having a project-based classroom where there are multiple avenues to accomplish a task helps prepare students to think more creatively.”
Education designer of Legat Architects, Sylvia Kowalk, spoke in the fourth session of our webinar about the way that designers can invite students in by meeting their needs. “We need to create educational environments that are engaging, motivating, and inviting- an environment that students feel they can belong to.” Who knows better how to engage students than teachers? That’s why MooreCo sought the opinions of teachers on what they want most in their classrooms. Three teachers gave their “dream classroom” ideas to Sylvia Kowalk and Robin Randall of Legat architects. They created renderings using the Compass line of products to furnish STEM spaces. All three teachers said that allowing students to have access to materials in organized storage created a sense of freedom and autonomy, which is one reason out of many that the Compass line is ideal for learning labs.
Integrate Technology and New Methods for Collaborative and Active Learning
The speakers at Thrive Together all agreed that technology would play a vital role in the classrooms of the future. Everything from remote learning tools to virtual reality will have a place in schools going forward. Session two speaker Chloe Hosid of Corgan said that active learning and technology are fusing to create a valuable experience for all students. “With education it’s very important to engage active use of technology. Real, hands-on experiences are vitally important.”
Dr. Leonard echoed the role that technology will continue to play in schools across America. COVID-19 has created an awareness of the need for widespread internet access and devices that enable mobile learning. If all students have access to technology, they can continue to learn regardless of the circumstances. Dr. Leonard seemed hopeful about the prospects of this happening. “Technology has gotten so much better and I think that will really serve our kids.”
Emphasize Socioemotional Aspects of Learning
Another recurring theme from our Thrive Together conference was the increased need to focus on the socioemotional aspects of learning, especially given the effects of 2020. As Angie Stutsman of Corgan pointed out, “It has never been more important to consider student’s emotional well-being in the design of their learning spaces.” She says that COVID-19 has caused a mental health crisis for many in the country, including students, who may be feeling the effects of isolation.
Sylvia Kowalk agreed about the role design can play in helping a student feel safe and secure. “It has never been more important to consider students' emotional well-being in the design of their learning spaces.” This is why MooreCo focuses on human development to design products that can help students thrive, even in trying times. Stay tuned for more information about holistic health of students and what we learned from our Thrive Together fall webinar.
We’re Here to Help...
If you missed our webinar, feel free to download any of the sessions here. If you have any questions about the Compass line or any of our COVID solutions for the learning or workplace, contact us today. We continue to be a resource for how to create safe, fun, and inspiring environments where all people can thrive. Let us know how we can help you create the classroom of the future that serves your students best.