Five Things You’re Likely to See in Tomorrow’s Schools
posted by: Melissa | June 01, 2017, 08:35 PM   

Nearly everyone alive in the U.S. is familiar with the schools of the past. The school building surge of the 50’s and 60’s dotted the country with a plethora of squat, square buildings. Inside, wide corridors are framed by square classrooms filled with rows of desks and a whiteboard at the front. These schools were created with factory-model schooling in mind, and were designed to maximize the impact of a single room with one teacher and 25 students. However, schools are likely to change radically over the next 25 years.

If teaching and learning is dramatically changing, schools need to do so as well. More and more often, newly constructed schools are opting to move away from a model dominated by long hallways and individual classrooms. They’re looking for spaces that are more flexible and can suit a variety of purposes. What are these new schools going to look like? Some of the trends over the past few years can give us a hint about what you’re likely to see when you walk into these new buildings.

Informal Learning Spaces. One of the many concepts that’s gaining traction is that students do not need to be sitting in a classroom with a teacher at all times. As schools move towards project based, competency based, and other forms of personalized learning, it’s recognized that students are going to spend more time working either by themselves or in small groups. Many schools are trying to provide a space to do this by building special areas where students can spread out and work either in a small group or away from others. These areas often have a variety of seating options, while maintaining a teacher’s ability to monitor the space relatively easy. Mooresville High School incorporated this concept by building what they call a “modern learning lab,” while Dianne Patrick Elementary included “community learning spaces” that are shared between several classrooms.

Breakout Spaces. As schools attempt to emphasize personal learning more, and as technology advances to allow teachers to pinpoint individual needs, the belief is that teachers will spend more time with small groups of students. Breakout spaces are designed to allow teachers to do just this, by providing a space where a teacher can pull a few students away at a time to work with in a more intimate setting. These may be achieved by using furniture, like Steelcase’s breakout spaces, or by building them in to the very architecture of the school, like they were at Kowloon Junior School in Hong Kong.

STEM Labs. More schools are putting a greater emphasis on STEM learning and want there to be a space dedicated to experimenting in this field. The past few years have seen a surge in maker spaces and technology labs in schools, and there’s no indication that these spaces will fade away any time soon. Just like computer labs in years past, schools need a space where students can work with technology and tools that they don’t have access to at home or in the classroom.

Daylight. An emerging field of research on the benefits of daylight to learning has made an effort to increase the amount of daylight in new construction. Designers are incorporating large windows, open spaces, and sky lights as a way to bring more natural light into the classroom.

Green Construction. The drive to make schools more sustainable is more than just a desire to be green. It’s also a cost saving measure for districts. Cutting down on heating and cooling bills means that schools can divert that money to classrooms.

What new design trends are you noticing?

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