Teachers are experts in creating challenging, engaging, and exciting spaces for kids. Classrooms all over the world are adopting “real world” school cultures that stimulate curiosity, collaboration, and problem-solving just like top performing companies Google or Salesforce.
During my six years teaching 1st grade and 10 years as Director of Education at the children’s museum in Charleston, South Carolina, I learned to be intentional in the design of a classroom or exhibit space. The simple addition of a color or a scent can evoke different moods and behaviors. For example, colors in the red area of the color spectrum or warm colors can stimulate emotions ranging from feelings of warmth and comfort to feelings of anger and hostility, whereas colors on the blue side of the spectrum or cool colors are often described as calm, but can call to mind feelings of sadness. Odor can elicit certain responses based on past experiences. Realtors tap into this when staging homes for potential buyers, going so far as to recreate the smell of lemon prior to an open house.
How we design and use space determines how others will feel and interact in that space. Teachers and media specialists may provide soft lighting with comfy overstuffed chairs and beanbags to encourage reading. I’ve seen middle school students come up with incredible ideas during collaborative work sessions complete with soft music, a large whiteboard, chart paper, and plenty of markers. There are elementary school classes providing students the opportunity to choose their workspace, varying from seated on the floor to a standup desk, depending on which setting supports their ability to learn and create.
Think about where you live, work, and play and make a conscious effort to replicate the spaces that bring you joy and encourage you to be creative, innovative, or relaxed. I challenge all of us to become more intentional about how we set up learning environments for ourselves and our children. Whether it’s a classroom, bedroom, or a children’s museum or an art gallery, the space is integral to our success. I encourage everyone to put more thought into building spaces that radiate positive energy and nurture learning. When you are intentional, you can transform any space no matter how “blasé.” If school gymnasiums can turn into wedding venues, just think about what you can do.
Space matters and there are so many wonderful examples around us if we just open our eyes and really think about how each of those environments makes us feel.
For breakfast, I ate a banana and macro bar with a dirty chai latte for a caffeine boost.