October 19, 2011

The Learning Environment

When I had my own classroom, I spent a lot of time, money, and energy trying to create a classroom that was engaging and motivating for my students.

As a language arts teacher, I focus a lot on my classroom library. I strive to make an inviting space full of books my students actually want to read! I am proud of my several bookshelves overflowing with books, and regularly purchase (even now) new novels for my classroom. I was fortunate to work in a district where the Home and School Association provided LA teachers with copies of the Rebecca Caudill books each year. When I have a classroom, I promote the Scholastic Book Clubs and used the bonus points to purchase new novels. When I decided to start book clubs, I visit the Scholastic Warehouse Sale and purchased multiple copies of the books I know they love to read so they could have multiple options at their fingertips.

I purchased big pillows, bean bag chairs, and a rug to make the space inviting and comfortable for my students as they sprawl across the floor with books in their hands. I decorated the walls with 3-D lollipops advertising the titles of suggested novels, creating a visual book recommendation list. I also kept a binder of student recommendations that my students browsed through regularly. Posters of reading strategies hung on my walls to guide my struggling readers.

My point is, I worked really hard to create a space that would be warm and inviting for my students. I wanted my room to be a place my students felt comfortable and wanted to be in, particularly my reading center. Did it work? I think so. My students loved my reading corner and most would happily cuddle up with a pillow and read for twenty minutes without complaining. They saw it as a relaxing activity and a nice break from sitting in their cold, hard seats all day... but they were still learning. They were reading! And they were applying the skills we practiced each day. And that's the part I loved!  

I bring all of this up because I read an article in the Huffington Post yesterday called, Designing Schools to Engage and Drive Learning. The article talks about the physical environment at Google (the business, not the website itself) and how we should be creating similar environments for our students. It argues that we should design our schools so they are places students want to be and where learning can happen in a natural, comfortable environment.

I, for one, would be the first teacher to sign on board with any school district that was willing to give this a try. I would love to work and teach in that kind of environment.


  1. I have read about what they do at google and think it is an amazing way to run business. They are right when they say people want to be there. When I read about the amenities that they offer their employees I immediately though "I wish we had that!".

  2. Right?! I'd love to walk down the hall and get a massage and be able to eat REAL food from the cafeteria. Do you think Google needs teachers?????