Classroom design is changing. As schools reopen across Canada following a lifting of COVID-19 restrictions, teachers are facing new challenges in allowing their pupils to reconnect on a social, emotional and educational level. In the latest blog from JMC Design, we explore how schools can take some simple steps to reintegrate their classroom towards a return to normality.
Over 18 months of the Coronavirus pandemic has had a significant impact on the psychology of pupils, parents and teachers alike. Whilst many have welcomed the reopening of classrooms throughout Canada, many understandably remain cautious, even anxious of a return to in-person teaching. This anxiety is borne out of an ending of long-standing social distancing rules, as well as a return to in-person teaching after a lengthy period of learning online.
RETURNING TO NORMAL: HOW CLASSROOM DESIGN CAN HELP PUPILS
With anxiety levels running high and learning-from-home habits setting in, schools must take a number of steps to ease their pupils back into normality. Here at Jonathan Morgan & Company, we’ve highlighted some simple and cost-effective ways that schools can use classroom design to help pupils and their teachers reconnect after a strange, unprecedented time in history. Let’s take a look…
1. CLASSROOM COLLABORATION
Many schoolchildren and teachers have recognised collaborative learning as something they miss the most. Months of digital learning and learning-from-home arrangements have eliminated many opportunities for collaborative learning – something that is largely dependent on making close contact. Social distancing marked an end to real collaborative learning, and as restrictions lift, we’re delighted to see that it’s back.
So – how can schools return to collaborative learning in a way that is safe and continues to observe COVID-19 safety protocols? It’s relatively simple: focus on flexibility in your classroom design and layout. Investing in solutions like PureView screens allow students to sit beside each other, meaning they can exchange conversation and ideas whilst enjoying a layer of protection against the spread of viral infection.
Meanwhile, making the right choice of furniture can foster real collaboration. For example, investing in moveable furniture allows temporary collaboration and a quick return to normal classroom layout as and when required. In many cases, this kind of furniture can easily be washed for a new layer of hygienic security. JMC Furniture stocks a range of flexible furniture options, from stacking chairs to adaptable desks such as the highly popular Penta Desk.
2. RE-ENGAGE, FEEL AT EASE
Schoolchildren can spend up to 8 hours a day in the classroom, making their school an effective ‘home away from home’. After such a lengthy period working from home, it’s essential that schools make the transition back to the classroom as comfortable as possible. This means investing in design and furniture that is comfortable, accessible and conducive to learning and social interaction.
So – how can schools help their pupils feel at home in the classroom? Firstly, that transition must start with comfort. Offer your pupils a range of soft or adjustable furniture options as a break from sitting up straight in the classroom (our stand-up desks and FOKUS Stools are great examples, allowing kids to sit up, stand down and wobble back and forth as they please). School doesn’t have to be work, work, work – so don’t hold back in providing a little bit of comfort in key areas.
Secondly, making some design choices can truly create a home away from home. Colour, for example, has been highlighted as key in influencing the emotions of schoolchildren, which has direct implications on their concentration and productivity. Bring a little slice of home to the classroom by choosing warm, bright and vibrant colours. Making the right choice of colour can inject some character into your classroom – try it out!
An extended period of working on computers has schoolchildren crying out for a different kind of classroom experience. Making a home away from home isn’t all about furniture and design: indeed, many of the simplest steps start in classroom activities. In this regard, teachers have a unique opportunity to experiment with some new and exciting visual activities.
What do we mean by visual activities in the classroom? Put simply, this involves making some changes to your teaching routine to accommodate visual learners. Teachers can try introducing photo essays, mind maps, flowcharts and other colourful diagrams to add a new dimension to curriculum delivery.
Introducing visual activities offers a number of advantages. Whilst enhancing the overall learning experience, these activities really encourage conversation and interaction between teachers and students. When it comes to facilitating visual learning with furniture and equipment, JMC offers a number of options ranging from collaborative whiteboards to sensory tables and colourful reading mats.
RETURNING TO CLASSROOM NORMALITY: YOU CAN COUNT ON JMC
We understand the challenges that schools are currently facing in transitioning to normal, in-person learning. As Canada’s leading classroom designers and classroom furniture suppliers, we’re keen to use our experience and expertise to help in any way we can. To get started with your own classroom design project or to reinvigorate your classroom furniture, get in touch with us today for a free design consultation.