Flexible spaces refers to the ability to change the arrangement of furniture and the layout of space to best suit the particular learning activities and pedagogical approach being used. It is less about whether you are in a traditional single cell classroom or open plan learning environment but rather the ability to change the space to suit needs.
Flexible space may refer to the ability to use the space within an individual classroom in a variety of ways or the ability to utilise a range of spaces, such as break spaces.
Physical spaces can be important in terms of student and teacher behaviour and mindsets, but they are not all-important. What is most important is teachers’ ability to understand and effectively use physical space and environmental affordances to their pedagogical advantage.
There is a growing body of evidence to support the importance of flexibility of space for learning. This research tends to be quite disparate, focusing on a range of different aspects of space such as seating arrangements, moveable furniture, the use of specialist spaces, and the use of break-out spaces for different types of activities. The research does strongly suggest that having flexible space does not in and of itself lead to improved learning or changed practice, but rather it is how the space is used that determines the impact.
- Start with the goals and intentions for learning, and consider how the learning space, whatever its configuration, can best serve those goals.
- Consider how your pedagogical approach relates to your use of space
- During different types of activities, e.g. group work versus whole class discussion versus individual work, consider how you can organize your furniture and space to best support students’ learning
- Experiment with different spatial configurations, making sure to observe and evaluate the impact it has on the teaching and learning.
- When planning a lesson, do I actively plan for the spatial organization?
- How does the classroom layout support different groupings and activities?
- How do I ensure that my classroom environment supports the learning of all my students?
"By collating easy-to-use resources, organised by topic, The Education Hub is making it so much easier for our teachers to take research into the classroom and adapt it to suit their students"