The physical layout of your classroom contributes a great deal to the learning climate for your students. When students feel comfortable in the classroom, they are able to concentrate and engage more on the learning task, retain more of the information presented, and enjoy the learning process.
Creating a positive atmosphere in your room can begin with simply ensuring the room is tidy, organized and properly lit. Displaying student work around the room celebrates their achievement and shares their ideas with their peers. Here are some additional considerations for enhancing your classroom environment to accommodate your students’ diverse learning preferences:
Position the furniture to allow for easy movement between different areas of the room.
Provide a variety of different types of comfortable furniture, such as a loveseat or couch, gym mats, floor rugs and cushions.
Student tables and desks should be easily reconfigured and adaptable for different learning tasks.
Group student desks to form pods to encourage student collaboration and team building. Rotate student groups throughout the year.
Create spaces that allow for collaboration and team work but also set aside a quiet area for students who prefer to work alone and need the quiet.
Provide easy access to a variety of learning materials – paper of different colour and thicknesses, different writing tools, books, technology tools so students can make choices throughout their school day as needed. Ensure all learning materials and tools are stored on shelves that are easily accessible by all students.
While students are doing desk work, consider playing music in the background, or allow students to listen to music on their personal devices using headphones. Research has shown that both classic and pop music stimulate the brain: eyes dilate and energy levels increase helping the brain to learn better.
Create a variety of learning centres that can extend what is being explored in the learning activities.
Hang posters and other visual supports around the classroom as necessary. However, avoid visual clutter or posters that may be distracting to some students.
Organize your students and your own technology so it functions well in the space – have charging stations set up for laptops, ensure power cords are not creating tripping hazards, and so on.
There are many resources available online that offer suggestions for classroom design that support active learning. Enlisting suggestions from your students can be very helpful in creating the type of classroom environment in which your students can feel comfortable and ready to learn.