Klea Scharberg

School Environments Roundup

What kind of school environments optimize the way students learn, teachers teach, and communities interact? In June and July, we took a look at schools that are conscious of the intersection between physical space and the cognitive, social, and emotional development of students, rather than focusing on one element in isolation. These learning environments facilitate the process of developing students who are healthy, safe, engaged, supported, and challenged.

Listen to the Whole Child Podcast with guests Bob Pearlman, 21st century schools consultant; Kristin Cuilla, director of new school development for New Tech Network; and Luis Torres, principal of P.S. 55 in the Bronx, N.Y.

Ask yourself the best (and tough) questions of whether your school's priorities and practices line up with Maslow's hierarchy of needs and foster a positive, healthy, and safe learning environment.

Paint a picture of what this learning- and student-centered school environment would look like. What is the biggest challenge in making this happen: the design ofyour network or the design of your curriculum?

Match physical structures to learning and school culture to communicate the message that your school puts students first and that it is a safe place where innovative learning occurs.

Explore products, resources, and tools related to learning environments (one of three key components in the Safe and Supportive Schools Model) from the U.S. Department of Education's Office of Safe and Drug-Free Schools.

Participate in the discussion on indoor and outdoor learning environments, classrooms that ignite learning, and engaging students in school design with fellow educators in the Edutopia community.

Share pictures of your learning spaces.

Think about one thing that would change the physical environment you teach in or your student learns in for the upcoming school year. What would it be?

Read about an Illinois junior high school designed around educating the body, mind, and spirit and how Ontario, Canada, schools are investing in new energy-efficient learning environments.

See examples of innovative learning environments in these videos featuring the Riverside School in Ahmedabad, Gujarat, India; the Building Schools for the Future program in Sandwell, West Midlands, United Kingdom; and the Early Learning Center at Forest Avenue Elementary in Middletown, Rhode Island.

Find information on fostering positive, safe, and healthy school environments from whole child partners Character Education Partnership, Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning, Developmental Studies Center, National School Climate Center, and Northeast Foundation for Children, Inc./Responsive Classroom.

Join the conversation on Facebook and Twitter.

What is your school doing to transform the learning environment in ways that make a difference for students' learning and development?

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