Walking in to the Studio 5 at ISHCMC, the first thing I thought was wow. The space has the feel of an open-plan office at Google. Open. Flexible. Cool. It felt like a space I wanted to work in, and the atmosphere of a collaborative I wanted to be a part of!
The space is filled with useful nooks and crannies where kids are already working, relaxing, talking and school hasn’t even begun. The walls and glass dividers serve as work spaces and announcement boards. At first glance it looks unintellegible, but with a closer look they’re home to students’ self-directed schedules for the week, inquiry planning documents, and workshop offerings from teachers and students for the week. Everything is intentional, personalized, and student driven. You can tell this space belongs to the kids, and the kids drive everything that happens here.
One thing that struck me are the classroom libraries. There aren’t any. While there are featured books displayed in prominent areas, and print resources for kids, there aren’t areas in the learning spaces dedicated to it. Book recommendations are posted on walls. Books of all sorts are curated and accessible. But no area that is designated as a “library.” Thinking about my own classroom and our space in grade 3, does my library area best support student learning? Would I personally recommend the books in my classroom library, and are they things that the students actually read? Do they all support the learning happening in the classroom?
These are all things going through my head (admittedly, some for the first time) as I get my feet wet with the idea of designing spaces to empower students. Already, I’m thinking about how I can transform our own spaces at AISJ to be more student-centered and flexible, and it makes me excited and energized for the future and our abafundi learners.