Are teaching practices shaping learning spaces or are learning spaces shaping teaching practices?

Image: French Ministry of National Education, Youth and Sport

A rich variety of teaching practices and learning spaces help to maintain pupils’ curiosity, develop their autonomy, increase their attentiveness and reduce their fatigue. The French Ministry of Education shares some of its findings, tips and ideas for enhancing learning spaces.

Rebuilding for learning

Teaching practices must be at the heart of school building projects. It is important to identify the educational approach first, before designing the space. However, this method is only theoretical, as teaching practices may differ within an educational team. It may also be difficult for staff to identify the educational potential offered by any given space.

It is therefore important to repeatedly ask questions about the teaching approach in each planned space, and to present educational teams with the new teaching opportunities offered by the spaces (classrooms, playgrounds, hallways, and so on).

To promote this approach, the French Ministry of Education is rebuilding and refurbishing learning spaces to better address current issues: green transition, well-being, inclusion, new teaching approaches, and opening up the school to the community.

Practical tips on learning spaces

Over the course of the day, the class structure can evolve based on the activities designed by the teacher, and may take place only in the classroom, or across several school spaces. Activities may feature group learning with all pupils, collaborative work with small groups working more or less independently, or individual work adapted to the pupil’s learning pace.

All spaces can contribute to teaching goals, including spaces that are not designed for teaching, but that allow for individual or group work, such as dining halls, courtyards, hallways and corridors.

Light, mobile, and adaptable furnishings allow the classroom layout to be changed quickly, and even by the pupils themselves.

A space located near the classroom can be assigned to a small group of pupils, and its use can be shared between two neighbouring classrooms.

One or more classrooms with a lot of space (150m²) can be divided into different areas, with the furniture laid out to accommodate different types of learning (group, collaborative or individual learning).

Three Examples of Classroom Layout

Three examples of classroom layouts

Highschools

                Thomas Pesquet School – Villepreux                     Condorcet high school - Schoeneck

Facilities and spaces dedicated to the green transition (plants, solar panels, birdhouses, insect hotels, vegetable gardens, etc.) can help foster the protection and enrichment of biodiversity and form a major part of the school’s learning for sustainability action plan.

Rennes

L’Ille school - Rennes

Spaces of all kinds can be used to let pupils and staff share books (libraries, culture hubs, book booths, etc.), screen films, host small live performances, and display artwork – particularly in areas with high pedestrian traffic.

For more information and to see further examples, please visit the Ministry of Education website.