We've studied what kids need in order to learn and we've built a space that responds to kids' needs and matches our pedagogical beliefs. Our classrooms are radically different than most classrooms, so it is hard for us to even use that word, "classroom." What's different? We’ve got an interesting combination of furniture that is purchased, built, and hacked by us. There’s variety. Comfort is important. Casual and collaborative are integrated into everything we do. And all spaces are open and transparent —and belong to all of us. There are no designated teacher spaces; teachers work within the classrooms and small group spaces, and kids do the same. Everything is shared. No space is wasted. And ideas spread as people work across the school.
It seems to all of us at Long-View that the perfect combination is working really hard, while being totally comfortable. We take our learning seriously, and sometimes bare feet, sitting in the coziest spot we can find, or spilling outside makes us happy and learn more.
There is something about our bright, simple, colorful environment full of a mixture of purchased, designed, and hacked furniture just makes you want to think outside of the box. Most of what we do here is creative — we are designing our own investigations, writing our own algorithms, generating a solution for a coding challenge, or writing a dissertation that contributes something new to our field of study.
We want to inspire change and flexibility, so we put everything on wheels. Our rooms encourages the activity kids need, instead of trying to inhibit and control it.
We want our kids to get up and show their thinking, and we want groups to huddle around tables and boards.
We want the environment to amplify their ideas, and we want the thinking of our kids to be central to our school's culture. Rolling whiteboards are everywhere, as are large whiteboard walls and windows that are easy to write on and erase.