Flexible learning environments have been a popular buzzword for a while now. Traditionally, flexible learning environments address the flexible use of the physical space as well as how time during classes might be used and how students are grouped during learning. Now, school leaders and educators also have to consider switching between in-person learning and remote learning, and how that applies to the learning environment in place.
When Walled Lake Consolidated School District in Walled Lake, Michigan, standardized classroom technology about five years ago, it transformed our instruction. It became clear the next step was to modernize the furniture and classrooms.
Our district went through an extensive process of brainstorming and researching the best approach for renovations, including district leaders attending conferences, testing out several products with their teachers, and discussing feedback and ideas with each other. Throughout the process, it was important for us to prioritize the idea that every student learns differently. With this in mind, we ultimately decided flexible learning environments would be the best solution throughout the district.
Pivoting the purpose
The districtwide transformation was initially divided into four phases, and schools have been going through renovations the past few years. Teachers at the renovated schools started seeing an increase in student engagement and finding easier ways to encourage students to participate. However, the pandemic threw a wrench in the plan to update classrooms to bring students together to collaborate more. Everyone found new ways to safely utilize the new learning spaces as we returned to in-person learning.
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