More Field Research for Classroom Redesign

Zachary RobertsDear families,

We’re very excited about the classroom redesign process being piloted in Middle School Spanish and Second Grade via this spring’s Fund-A-Need, and hopefully you’ve had a chance to read my blog posts from June 29 and July 6 on this topic. In that later post, I wrote about four insights we gained from visiting Hillbrook School in late May. On that same trip, Kristin Bogart (Director of Development), Sherri Helvie (Assistant Head), and Jeremy King (Facilities Manager and IT Director) visited Schools of the Sacred Heart in San Francisco, where they hit upon several other key ideas:

1) Furniture can have more than one purpose. Tables and desks are now made with white-board surfaces that allows students to work directly on them. Some white-board tables have a release that allows the table-top to flip upright, so that it then becomes a whiteboard display, or a room partition. And bookshelves can have hidden casters so that they can be easily wheeled around to transform the shape and divisions of a room.

2) Expect to experiment. Our team heard stories of teachers and students trying out dozens of configurations, and then arriving at five or six that worked for the specific purposes and practices of each grade and subject. These arrangements were then given specific names, and classes learned to quickly shift between the configurations.

3) Get furniture that children can move themselves. To efficiently reconfigure a room takes time, and when furniture is too big or heavy for children, the burden falls of the teacher. When children can move the furniture, they develop community pride and ownership, and investment in the class’s success that comes from being helpful, valued and connected.

4) Finally, the most sacred cow of all; get rid of the teacher’s desk (but not the chair!). These giant wooden and/or metal battleships take up valuable space that can be more effectively used, and they run counter to our underlying concepts of flexibility and movement. By creating adequate storage for a teacher’s planning materials, and putting the chair at a table, we can create more working space in the classroom, and the teacher still has a space to work during a prep or after school.

To close, have are some more photos of the 2nd grade classrooms like you’ve never seen them before. As I wrote last time, imagine pumpkins being prepared for Halloween carving, where the insides are completely scraped clean; from there, we’ll begin repairing the walls and replacing the carpet (more on that later this summer!).

Warmly,

Dr. Zachary Roberts
Head of School

Warmly,
Zaq-Signature
Dr. Zachary Roberts
Head of School