Why Not Let Teachers Design Schools?

How much does the learning environment affect the learning? Personally I feel that it affects it a lot. It just so happens that quite a few teachers in England agree with me also.

Recently an online survey was given to teachers in England to examine their teaching environments. One third of the surveyed teachers revealed that the environment they were teaching in prevented them from doing their job efficiently.

One of the complaints included narrow hallways, which lead to crowding, punching, and fighting. Others commented on inadequate desks, tables, and chairs.

My favorite comment came from one teacher who stated,

“If the impression given to the students is that this room doesn’t matter then the impression is that it doesn’t matter what they do in this room.”

Teachers also complained about the limited ways their classroom could be arranged. They felt that they couldn’t make adequate use of the space they have for various learning experiences. I had similar problems with room set up one year when I taught eighth grade. One of my students was in a wheel chair. With 28 desks, my desk, and a few cabinets I found no true way to arrange the room so that every part of it was accessible to her.

It can be very hard to control the room temperature in a classroom. In my own classroom I turn on the air conditioner and freeze or leave it off and get hot. Those are about the only choices.

One teacher in the survey made note that she did not have an air conditioner in her room. She did have windows. However the windows were so high that she had to climb up on a shelf to open them.

I think that school districts and designers should think more into having teachers’ opinions when laying out a school building. For example, my room and the adjacent room are open both in the front and the back. Much noise travels through these two openings. Curious eyes are also continuously peeking from room to room.

All of the primary classroom bathrooms are inside the room (which is good). However there is no main restroom with multi stalls on our wing. It would be great to sometimes have the opportunity for more than one child to use the restroom at a time.

I think that teachers could give a lot of insight into tips such as these.

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