Page 32 - THE Journal, October/November 2018
P. 32

Districts often see the building of a new school as an opportunity to embrace new ideas.
David Mount, a partner at Mahlum and leader of the firm’s K-12 practice, said that districts often see the building of a new school as an opportunity to embrace new ideas, and that experience can make clear how the classroom can get out of the way.
“Often we’ll go into a existing facility where the educators want to do a lot of things, but they are limited by the build- ing,” Mount said. “To the degree that we can make things accommodate a variety of potential teaching methods and different teaching activities — that’s the way that it gets out of the way.”
“Often we are a catalyst,” Mount said, “which is an interesting place to be because it opens up many possibilities that maybe could have been or should have been explored earlier.”
Back in the Muskego-Norway School Dis- trict, the district may have already hit upon a way to get their older classrooms out of the way of instruction.
“You’ll see a hundred-year-old school with one classroom that you’d be shocked to see when you walk in has the general appear- ance and function of a nearly brand new classroom,” Spence said. But more than “the stuff on casters, the stuff on wheels, the stuff that tessellates, the stuff that can quickly be moved around the classroom, the stuff that’s soft spaces and textures,” the difference stems from the shift to personalized learning.
“You kind of get caught up in the minu- tiae of it sometimes and you feel like your goal is simply to get these things outfitted and think ‘build it and they will come,’ but we truly did notice students responding differently when they were in classrooms that had both flexible learning spaces and choice,” Spence said.”
“It’s not just that the spaces transformed physically,” Spence said. “It’s that they transform instructionally. They’re being used completely differently, so when you walk in you notice that learning is different and it’s not like the teachers couldn’t do that without the furniture, but it certainly catalyzes that work.”
Joshua Bolkan is a freelance reporter based on Portland, OR.
Muskego-Norway School District put educators in charge of making many of the deci- sions about furnishings, supplies and equipment in its learning spaces.

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