The school community must take part in designing learning spaces. Student and teacher participation can become an element of small investments, and not only big projects (such as general school building/rebuilding). We can imagine a variety of situations that require such participation. Engaging the school community in school design and renovation has a lot of advantages.
For instance, when thinking about the way school walls should be painted it is worth asking the students to design a mural.
If we want to make use of some parts of the corridors, maybe students have an idea about how to adapt them for educational, integration or relaxation purposes…
If we want to replace the pavement by the school, maybe it would be a good idea to incorporate a chessboard into it, or a cross and circle game, or a hopscotch pattern…
Painting the interiors? Maybe single colour walls are dull and students can contribute in the form of wall paintings or bas-reliefs?
In need of lawn and yard greens improvement? Maybe we should ask the students to design a didactic garden for both spending free time and learning…
Most importantly, we need a serious approach to designing educational spaces. How to involve students?
- Provide a wide range of resources, media and tools thanks to which children will be able to express their thoughts, ideas and opinions.
- Think of fascinating and engaging activities. Try to make instructions as clear as possible, but leave space for the children to present their ideas and discoveries.
- Create samples solutions and guidelines. Put an emphasis on the language and the intelligibility of your messages across all communication channels.
- Let the children contribute to the project; respect their styles and preferences.
- Plan varied activities based on group, pair and individual work.
- Try to be as precise as possible in reading student messages; look at what they say but also how they do it and what they pay special attention to.
- Assign activities and tasks that have a say in the project’s success.
- Tell the children that their opinions, ideas and thoughts are key elements of the project and are really appreciated.
- Show children how their input influenced the decisions made during the project and enjoy their success.
- Throughout the project, engage children in pondering such questions as learning, obstacles, content and values.
- Celebrate each contribution together with the children. Promote good ideas.