2. Balance practicality with fun. Ultimately, we really tried to match the furniture with the content that was being used and presented in that particular space. Our traditional school colors are blue, black, and white, but our furniture is not. We used fun pops of color—including lime green and orange—to create a bright learning environment that differs from the traditional classroom.
3. Find a partner that understands your vision. As we worked through the planning process for our new high school’s collaborative spaces, we had a lot of questions about furniture wear-and-tear. We wanted to know that our choices would stand the test of time. Our furniture partner was more than happy to help address these queries; we couldn’t have done it without them. They also shared visuals from other schools and showed us how certain products looked in certain environments (versus just having to pick from a catalog). And even when we changed our mind, they were always helpful by offering up new options and providing feedback on those changes.
4. Get everyone onboard. At first, our teachers were unsure about taking their classrooms to other places in the building for learning, and that was natural. However, as more and more of them began using and experiencing the collaborative spaces, even more of them wanted to try it out. We provided training on how to best use the spaces and our expectations for them (e.g., no lying down on the couches), and developed a Google Doc that teachers use to reserve the space in advance of their class time.
Taking Learning to New Levels
I also send out a weekly newsletter that includes pictures of the cool things that are happening on campus. I make sure to highlight how the collaborative spaces are being used so other teachers can see how they work. These are just some of the steps we’ve taken to help everyone get acclimated to our new school building and its wonderful new collaborative spaces, which we know will help us take learning to new levels.
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