We're now a few months into the school year, but it’s never a bad time to think about improving education. As we cross the threshold into 2022, there’s renewed opportunity for a fresh start. And at The Office Place, we know a great way for educators to give a fresh start is to create a fresh new classroom design.
We got some great insight from Emily, a 4th grade English and Language Arts teacher. Emily wished to keep her full-name and employment anonymous. In any case, she gave us some great insight into how to create a fun classroom design. We also have the added insights of Ms. Ginette Jaramillo at Louisville High School and Mrs. Tracy Greenamyer at Hubbard Elementary. Check out their thoughts on seating for neurodivergent students. Let’s see what these teachers have to say about classroom design.
Everyone knows about the importance of curriculum and lesson plans. But is it possible that a classroom design can impact students the same way? We asked the educators about the importance of a classroom design.
Both Emily and Ms. Jaramillo emphasized the importance of a student’s comfort in a classroom. For younger students, a fun seating option could be a Grow Stool. Besides being durable, stools like these also sport a comfortable mesh seat. And Ms. Jaramillo’s individualized education students may be in high school. But the stool's the height adjustment features let it work for even students in that age group.
While a student’s response to classroom design is key, the educators should also feel at home with it. We asked Emily and Jaramillo about what they liked.
For an open space, one great option is a stackable stool, like the Dott Stool. Without sacrificing durability, these lightweight stools are perfect for a spacious education. They can even take the class outside on those stir-crazy sunny days. And when they’re no longer needed for the reading circle, just stack them together to keep them out of the way.
Both Emily and Mrs. Greenamyer also homed in on the visual appeal of the classroom. For a warm and welcoming environment, teachers should choose a set of colorful bins or totes. Pick one with several color options for either a matching set or a rainbow-like array. Speaking of totes…
Totes and bins are becoming more and more popular in the classroom. After all, what class doesn’t need fun and functional storage options? So, we asked Emily and Mrs. Greenamyer for their thoughts on totes.
TOP: Do you like to use totes in your classroom design?
E: “Yes, I use containers/totes to organize books in my classroom library. I also use them for students to turn in papers, and for student classroom materials. Using totes keeps everything neat and organized.”
TG: “I have totes in my room [to] hold things that do not fit in the large drawers we have available, such as Christmas decorations or hands-on materials needed for class.”
Fabric bins aren’t the only options out there. Wood totes can also be viable with increased durability and a modern style. But the classic fabric bin might be all you need. Chrome handles allow easy transportation. And label inserts keep supplies organized or assign totes to individual students.
There are some things that every classroom needs for a successful education. We asked the educators their thoughts on this.
TOP: What’s the thing that can make or break a classroom design?
E: “I think you really need to think about the age group and subject you are teaching because that has a lot to do with any decisions in classroom design. A high school and middle school classroom are most likely going to look different from an elementary classroom. Even kindergarten and fourth grade will look very different.”
This highlights a key point. Is the goal to instill a sense of childlike wonder to the classroom? In that case, table tops with fun shapes like clover or trapezoid shaped desks. Or maybe the goal is a spacious workspace, in which the Kee Activity Table would be a perfect option. In any case, a height adjustable table can allow a table to work for any age group.
GJ: “Functionality is probably the highest importance in classroom design. If the students or the teacher can’t find/easily access materials, then the classroom design needs to be reworked.”
This drives home the importance of good storage in the classroom. Bins with removable bottom panels allow you to keep even more folded away as storage needs increase.
TG: “The most important thing in a classroom is that everything has to be flexible and sturdy. It has to be inviting and safe.”
Whether it’s a stool or a desktop, durability is a major importance. Assure that your laminate holds up against the toughest students. And for flexibility, anything with height adjustability or easy storage design can help.
Unfortunately, safe classroom design doesn’t only mean the basics, like rounded corners. In a post-pandemic world, the health of students and educators is at the forefront of everyone’s minds.
TOP: How has the pandemic affected your classroom environment? And is there still an impact?
E: “Last year was tough because we had to keep 22 desks at least 3 ft. apart which didn’t allow for a lot of space in the classroom… We eventually moved to groups of 3 but no one could sit side by side. This opened up a little space and allowed for more interaction during lessons. Students had dividers and masks which helped protect them from getting sick.”
Stackable stools can be exactly what a teacher needs to keep the classroom safe and healthy. They can move around as needed and even take the class outside for fresh air. And activity tables with large workspaces can allow room for divider. At the same time, the spacious surface allows students to collaborate and socialize.
In the end, there are two keys to a fun and functional classroom setup.
Whatever learning, seating, or storage needs your classroom has, you need options. Maybe you don’t make the final decision on larger classroom furniture. In that case, be sure to reach out to your school’s administrative leaders so they know your classroom needs. And check out TOP’s school desks, storage, and school seating collections to see how we can fulfill these needs.