What does a classroom look like when the focus is on preparing students for the future?

The past school year, we were able to see changes in education, things we didn’t think were possible. The pandemic has educators thinking about what might be possible to build off what we’ve learned this year. What should a classroom look like in the future?

A classroom isn’t used for just one thing, so the room should lend itself to flexibility. There are areas within the room for different purposes including small group instruction, space to work independently, and space to have a large group meeting. Furniture that is comfortable and can move helps students focus on different types of tasks.

A white board at the front of the room is great for the teacher, and a future ready classroom has ways that students are standing up sharing ideas and collaborating with their classmates all around the room. The “front” of the room becomes less noticeable. There could be portable white boards and multiple ways for students to project their work for discussion and feedback.

When you walk into a classroom that is preparing each student for his/her future, you see different things happening at the same time. You see the teacher working more with small groups of students and less up in front of the whole class. You see conversations and collaboration. Learning is a social process.

 In thinking about the experience students are having in the classroom, you would observe them having more control and ownership of their learning. This includes choice in what or how they learn. It also includes self-reflection and having a voice in their next steps in the learning.

Technology provides access to expanded content and experiences and is coupled with a teacher who activates learning. Technology is an amazing thing, but it isn’t the only thing. It is just a tool. Teachers are critically important in making sense of information, facilitating discussions, heading off misconceptions, and encouraging next steps.

If there are positives to be found within the last year, certainly one has to be the willingness to think differently about education. Educators found ways to use technology for things previously thought impossible. Educators and students were all learners demonstrating flexibility, resilience and perseverance. Let’s build on those successes to grow future ready learning!

Photo of Jen SigristJen Sigrist is the Executive Director of Educational Services for Central Rivers Area Education Agency. She can be reached at jsigrist@centralriversaea.org. Central Rivers AEA supports educators, parents, and the communities we serve as we work together toward one ultimate goal: to improve student learning. We provide support in the areas of quality classroom materials, curriculum planning, best practices in teaching and learning, safe and caring learning environment, appropriate educational opportunities for all learners, technology planning, professional learning, assessment, special education, leadership development, and more. Learn more at www.centralriversaea.org.