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Advice: Vision First, Facilities Second

Space decisions should be aligned with an overall vision for teaching and learning

Overview

Schools seeking to redesign approaches to learning often also pursue redesign of physical space. Innovative designs are pushing schools from collections of standard "classroom spaces" to more dynamic "teaching and learning" spaces that support varied formal, individual, social, and informal learning needs.

New school environments must, first and foremost, have a bigger vision for teaching and learning. As noted by a 2011 study by the OECD, "physical learning environments offer resources and possibilities that support new teaching methods and learning goals, schools are much more prompt to change their operational culture. In other words, they are important when developing school operational culture, as well as work environments. [...] Spaces should offer various possibilities for learning to take place: this can range from individual study to large group activities. They should also support teacher coaching and individual work. Such flexibility fosters new types of teaching and learning...which are determined by the demands of the subject or activity. "

Finally, leaders should not assume that implementing blended or personalized instructional practices is contingent on radical redesign of space. In fact, many schools The Learning Accelerator has visited simply utilize older, traditional space in new ways – such as by opening up doors between classrooms or using hallways for additional work space.