July 5, 2018

By Shaun Fagan

Say goodbye to the traditional learning environment.

Today’s learners deserve collaborative environments that meet their individual and collective needs—and educational leaders can learn how to provide physical and cultural environments that are empowering and engaging.

Traditional classrooms often feature students sitting in rows of desks while the instructor is in the front of the room at a chalkboard or whiteboard. This setup needs to be replaced with one that is designed to support thinking, alter teaching practices and strategies, and increase student engagement and achievement. Classrooms that are adaptive while meeting student needs incorporate writable desktops and wall space, hands-on and eyes-on learning tools, flexible seating options, scaffolding knowledge charts, and other innovative tools. Furthermore, there is no teacher’s desk at the front of the class, and students are encouraged to move around the classroom to collaborate with other students on tasks.

Students need to be engaged and active.

Physically moving around heightens student engagement and alertness while encouraging activity, thinking, and learning. Students literally become active players in the learning environment, which is an empowering and exciting shift away from the passivity of sitting at a desk for an hour.

Along with the physical space, the cultural environments in schools must be conducive to learners as well. Each learning space should capture a sense of love. Much deeper than the emotional sense, the loving environment that must exist in classrooms is patient, kind, trusting, unselfish, truthful, forgiving, and dedicated. Think of ways to share love in the classroom, like this teacher did with her students.

In learning environments that reflect these principles, teachers and students can build stronger relationships. Additionally, specific pedagogical practices provide relevance, offer clear distinctions, and spark thinking while taking into account their learners’ cultural backgrounds.

What makes a classroom engaging?

Ultimately, what makes a classroom engaging is active learning, no matter where you are. But, finding a way to engage every student can be a difficult task. If teachers take the time to focus more on what each child may need in order to succeed, such as offering visual aids and teacher-led reading activities to ELL learners, then the classroom is one step closer to becoming an exciting and engaging learning environment.

The next time you’re in a classroom, take the time to assess the atmosphere. Is the space truly empowering and engaging the learners?

This post was inspired by “The Importance of the Learning Environment,” which was one of our best performing blog posts of 2015.

Shaun Fagan

Shaun Fagan

Shaun Fagan's mission at Lightspeed is to continue to find new ways to create access to learning by studying the dynamics of the classroom. His goals include evolving our instructional audio systems to improve the learning environment for both students and teachers. Outside of the office, Shaun enjoys spending time with his family, running and training for marathons, and rooting for the Oregon State Beavers!

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