As an educator and designer, I bring a unique perspective based on my diverse educational experiences. I was homeschooled from preschool-8th grade, which rooted my love of designing classrooms that feel like home. While earning my Masters in Early Education, I worked in a Montessori school located in a converted 1940s farmhouse, again deepening my love of learning environments that feel like home. I loved it that my students could steal away to a quiet corner or a window seat covered with soft pillows to read a book or write with a clipboard. Having these “soft” spaces seems like a form of emotional intelligence for various types of learners to succeed.
In my current role as a kindergarten teacher, I am heavily influenced by the research of David Thornburg and his ideas of Campfires, Cave Spaces, and Watering Holes in educational settings. I currently mentor colleagues through the process of creating research-based and engaging classrooms, and have led professional developments that utilize these concepts.
In my twelve years of teaching experience, I have delved deeply into researching the best practices for learning environments: from the impact that natural light has on learners, to the effects of a color palette chosen for a classroom or school, to the seating options available for students, to the message of inclusion and belonging that a learning environment sends to its students. Every small design decision we make as educators affects our learners, yet it is a topic that is infrequently taught or discussed among professional educators.
This blog is for the teacher who wants to make informed design decisions about his/her classroom, the school administrator who wants to transform his/her school environment by making informed design decisions about his/her school, or the homeschool parent looking for ways to create a schoolroom that will help his/her child focus and optimize learning. I welcome questions and design dilemmas and hope to offer concrete actionable steps for adults who are in charge of creating children’s learning environments. Let’s transform classrooms into comfortable places for you and your students to work and learn together!
There are limited resources based on school design, those that exist are mostly targeted toward architects. Additionally, most interior design books are targeted toward individuals decorating their homes. More often than not, design choices in schools fall into the laps of busy school administrators or teachers. There is hardly any literature on this important topic geared toward educators. My goal is to help teachers and school administrators feel just as confident making professional decisions about environmental design as they do about adopting a new reading curriculum!
I use the ground rules of both environmental psychology and interior design to create the best-possible learning environments for learners, as explained through the lens of a veteran teacher. Creating warm and engaging learning environments for students encourages them to engage in the classroom community (which promotes empathy), allows them more access to learning materials and their individual data (which promotes literacy), and teaches them how to create behavioral guidelines and care for their environment (which promotes knowledgeable citizenship). I hope you find this information helpful!
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