meet our Spacebusters…

A few weeks ago, the amazing Maija Ruokanen visited our school.  Here’s a recap of what she had to say.

With a book club dedicated to #LearningSpaces, there has been momentum growing on campus (check out our Flipboard of resources here) to do more with our learning environment. Starting this week, a group of 15 teachers will read a series of books to help strike up further conversation (if you are looking for a good text to start with, I’d recommend this one).

But conversation and literature are pointless unless you have a few risk takers willing to take action.  Enter Uzay: one of our school’s tech mentors, and model early adopters. Uzay gave up time to sit down and work through this classroom redesign audit with me so we could ideate the future of her learning space.

As a result of that conversation, and a follow up listen to this episode of Podcast #UWCLearn featuring Paula Guinto, Uzay came up with the theme to pull her room together with: #ideasbrewing.

"Cafe" Romuald Le Peru

“Cafe” Romuald Le Peru


Unpacking the theme

Uzay’s theme presents in a variety of java-fueled signage, and an attempt to bring that ‘cafe’ feel to her classroom.  We have more plans to make that theme really *pop* so watch this space for an update on part II.

Uzay is an IBDP Language&Literature teacher.  Using The Noun Project, we revamped her signage to reflect her #ideasbrewing theme, here’s a sample:

Screen Shot 2017-03-29 at 4.38.15 PM Screen Shot 2017-03-29 at 4.38.08 PM


Who did we call?

I’m extremely lucky to be one of several learning coaches on campus.  Dave Caleb and Keri-Lee Beasley agreed to give up their lunch to come in and power through an hour-long makeover session.  We intentionally didn’t have Uzay present for this phase.  Sometimes it takes an outsider perspective to rethink the layout.  This was only done after consulting with Uzay and making note of ‘deal breakers’ and ‘must haves.’

Our objectives for that hour were the following:

  1. Declutter and streamline
  2. Create more space for social learning
  3. Respect both introverts and extroverts
  4. Pull the room together both with the theme and color scheme
  5. Establish levels and ‘cozyfy’

At the end of that hour, we talked about the next step, and what we could do to really honor Uzay’s new theme.  The new space inspired new thinking.  I’m thrilled to continue this project with my colleagues.  I’ve been wondering why schools don’t do this more often: why is it that at the start of the school year, I’ve traditionally only seen teachers working alone during that intial ‘set up’? If Learning Spaces are communal, wouldn’t the design phase also benefit from a team effort?


So what does before and after look like? 

Remember this represents just the first two hours of the process.  I think most likely this will need an additional two hours.  Within those hours you’ll find some very authentic professional development.  During our makeover, Keri-Lee and Dave continued to ask “If you were a student, which seat would you want?” We continued to push to make sure that there was no ‘one best seat,’ which pushed us to think deeper about the student experience. Lastly, this experiment was a reminder of two things we should continually monitor in our schools:

  1. Are people willing to take risks?
  2. Do we have a support network in place to support early adopters?



































Flickr Image courtesy of Creative Commons licenses

“Cafe” Romuald Le Peru