You have all seen the image…aisles of students in desks, hands up in the air, eyes looking forward, and feet placed parallel to the floor. Or maybe your image of school includes tables instead of desks, an alphabet shaped rug, and organized nooks. Both of these images are a current reality, and thankfully both of these images include bright eyed students anxious to learn, and ready to expand their horizons beyond what they knew yesterday.
Images throughout history tell us so much about the time period and culture of when an image was created. With that in mind, what can we interpret from our current images of K-12 learning? How do these images differ when placed next to an image from 10, 20, or 30 years ago? Can we observe the same levels of divergence that we would with other types of historical archives? We hear so much about tomorrow’s jobs, but what does this mean about the way we teach children in classrooms today? Do our environments align with the curriculum in order to meet the needs of the future?
These questions encourage us to explore the changes we are making in curriculum, standards, assessment, and resources. We need to think about the environment for these pieces of the puzzle. You can have the most modern puzzle pieces of our time, but when the pieces can’t be placed back in a box that fits all of the pieces comfortably and well, the puzzle pieces often get misplaced and damaged. All too often, we talk about putting the puzzle together, but we forget to consider where we store the puzzle. A puzzle is typically only put together once if the storage is not available to hold the pieces. To continually work with the puzzle and revisit the pieces, we need to ensure that the environment storing the pieces are appropriate to the pieces that exist.
So where are children going? They are going to places we do not know. They are going to places we need to explore with the students. In order to be effective at this difficult job of teaching, we need to consider the importance of creating the box in which to rest the pieces. The classroom environment is the hub that stores the connectivity of learning: the students, the teachers, the resources, and the curriculum.