The Best Building I Can Be | A Blog for Principals and Teachers – School Matters

 
 

The Best Building I Can Be

 
 

 

 

iStock 000017848435XSmall 150x150 The Best Building I Can BeThe classrooms are empty and the hallways are quiet; finally, a time to think. When educators think, they think of achievement. They look back at the past school year, enjoy the successes and analyze the failures. They all want to achieve more.

Without a doubt opportunities for enhanced achievement can be found in every facet of our educational programs. We can upgrade curriculum, provide teacher enrichment, expand support staff and even offer free coffee in the morning. However, we might also want to take another look at those hallways and classrooms.

A fascinating exhibit (the exhibit, “The Best School in the World” runs through July 22, at the Finnish embassy in Washington, D.C.) highlights anew the effects of school design and student environment on academic achievement. In an article published in Education Weekly, Sara Sparks, quotes Pasi Sahlberg, the director general of the Center for International Mobility and Cooperation at Finland’s education ministry, who attributes the nation’s impressive academic achievement to the quality of the academic curriculum, the equity in educational access, and a focus on how the environment and school design supports students’ learning. Sparks notes that:

The exhibit exemplifies the country’s move from factory-style schools, with all classrooms and desks in rows, to contemporary campuses built to meet the pedagogical and social needs of their students and teachers. The national Board of Education set guidelines for a proper learning environment, including recommendations on aesthetic quality, with the sense that a school “should be a place that is physically, psychologically, and socially safe, promoting the child’s growth, health, and learning as well as their positive interaction with teachers and fellow pupils.”

When classrooms are filled with natural light, shown in studies to increase student achievement, the hallways designed to maximize adult supervision, and thus minimize bullying, or the built in coffee bar in the teachers lounge (it still comes down to the coffee!) one cannot help but be impressed with the attention paid to school environment. This stands in stark contrast to many of our schools in which the term ‘factory style’ seems to describe more than the fashion in which we arrange the classroom furniture. While we seem to care deeply about what we teach and how we teach, we often ignore an important third component: where we teach.

This failure is analogous to one who spends millions developing the best automobile possible, and ensures that each driver is properly trained, but pays no attention to improving the roads on which the cars travel. Ignoring the third component significantly reduces the efficacy of the first two. Curriculum is upgraded, teacher skills are enhanced, but the school environment, the road on which it all rides, was designed for an era long passed, slowing real achievement and compromising the hard work of our educators.

While cash strapped districts are not about to start tearing down buildings and erecting the types of schools the Finnish exhibit displays, we can look at making small improvements in our school environments that will eventually point us towards the above goal. While the classrooms are still empty and the hallways quiet, have another look and dream of the possibilities.

Share and Enjoy:
  • twitter The Best Building I Can Be
  • linkedin The Best Building I Can Be
  • facebook The Best Building I Can Be
  • googlebookmark The Best Building I Can Be
 

No comments

Be the first one to leave a comment.

Post a Comment


 

Educators Calendar Events

Featured Posts

Is Social Media in the Classroom a Necessity or Distraction?

Is Social Media in the Classroom a Necessity or Distraction?

I recently had a telling experience while sitting at a friend’s dinner table. The mother asked her son how his class was today. He answered, “It got deleted”....

 
Video: The Myths of Chartering

Video: The Myths of Chartering

Guest Post by Ember Reichgott Junge   What a fun interview with Bob Bowdon of Choice Media TV, in New York City! We talked chartering and education issues from...

 
Are Single Gender Classrooms Better?

Are Single Gender Classrooms Better?

From time immemorial, private religious schools have had single gender classrooms. For the past 15 some odd years, a few public schools have begun to experiment...

 
New Literacy Law-Too Much and Too Late?

New Literacy Law-Too Much and Too Late?

In the continuing effort to get our children reading, fourteen states have enacted a policy requiring third-graders who do not meet a reading standard to attend...

 
Obama’s Nutritional Standards Strike Again

Obama’s Nutritional Standards Strike Again

  I read a rather heartbreaking story about the loss of a home-town treat to the Obama administration’s nutritional guidelines. Apparently, Michelle Obama’s...

 
Video: Play Based Learning

Video: Play Based Learning

      Video blogger Mor Rossler discusses play based learning. Learning through play has become the goal of many early childhood centers.  The idea is that...

 
Charter Schools and Unions – Help or Hindrance?

Charter Schools and Unions – Help or Hindrance?

A reader of my recent blog, Charter Schools-Nothing Ventured, Nothing Gained?, commented that perhaps one of the disadvantages of charter schools is that teachers...

 
Infographic: What Makes An Effective Teacher? Part III

Infographic: What Makes An Effective Teacher? Part III

  Hertz Furniture is proud to present the What Makes An Effective Teacher? infographic series!  Student influences such as attention span, cultural background...

 
Facing Gender Differences in Education

Facing Gender Differences in Education

Published in 1992 and having sold over 50 million copies! (not including the sharing of the book between readers), Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus by John...

 
New Study: Charter School Graduates More Likely to Go to College

New Study: Charter School Graduates More Likely to Go to College

Guest Post by Ember Reichgott Junge   The National Charter Schools Conference opened this morning with a standing-room-only crowd for the first general session—due...