School Business Affairs December 2019

asbointl.org SCHOOL BUSINESS AFFAIRS | DECEMBER 2019 35 FACILITIES Individualized spaces and flex- ible components allow learners to determine where and how they learn. Guided by their teachers, they are empowered to figure out what works best for them. The resulting sense of ownership sets each student up for success in ways that tradi- tional classrooms cannot. Spaces within the agile classroom are inherently social learning spaces. Within seconds, students can arrange lightweight furniture in endless configurations to create community areas that bring learners and teach- ers together. These custom spaces facilitate idea sharing and strengthen social and emotional bonds far more effectively than a classroom packed with 25 students facing the teacher. Gathering in this way consistently results in informal, unexpected col- laboration among various groups of students. Creativity is another hallmark of an agile space, because it is designed to offer infinite opportunities for students to manipulate the space and design their own learning environ- ment. This capability is particularly key to STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts, and math) settings, where basic, interrelated compo- nents can be combined creatively to produce unlimited teaching and learning possibilities. Commercial learning labs designed especially for STEAM students can be adapted to accommodate groups of students who move from the classroom to the lab where they can test their theories and problem-solve cooperatively. An effectively designed STEAM system is a fully integrated, highly adaptable solution that can trans- form the learning space quickly as learners move from one hands-on learning project to the next. Teaching in an Agile Classroom Agile learning spaces allow the teacher to be an educator, a facilita- tor, and a leader. As a facilitator, the teacher provides opportunities for student-led learning and educator- guided instruction, including encour- aging students to find the space and configurations that work for them. Some students need safe spaces that support their emotional and physical needs and promote healthy movement and action. That is par- ticularly true in communities where students may face trauma outside the classroom and need a learn- ing space where they feel safe and soothed. Some students prefer to be in the middle of a large group. The educator working with students in an adaptable, flexible, mobile space can accommodate students’ differ- ent learning styles and give them an opportunity for individual or group inquiry, investigation, and problem-solving. Learning spaces that provide own- ership, equity, and agency pay divi- dends to students, teachers, and the overall school community. Students gain an increased sense of pride in their learning spaces and educa- tional process, and teachers are able to successfully engage them. The classroom becomes a community of active learning, marked by purpose, passion, and fun. The real hallmark is that agile classrooms don’t stand still. They are constantly adapting and transforming to support the ever-evolving learning environment. An Education Imperative As our society evolves, often in unexpected ways, our classrooms must evolve as well. Agile learning spaces are intentionally designed to unleash the potential of students and educators by incorporating mobility and by creating environ- ments with the potential to inspire creative thinking and group-inspired innovation. Effective classrooms work when they are designed from within and from the perspective of the students and teachers who will be learning and guiding inside them. When done right, an agile classroom creates a learning space that can be easily updated to keep pace with evolv- ing pedagogy and student needs. Agile classrooms reflect not just our responsibility to today’s students, but our commitment to their future. Jolene Levin is director of NorvaNivel an educational furniture company based in Texas, and founded in Australia. Spaces within agile classrooms inherently promote social learning. Agile classrooms constantly adapt to student learning.

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