A place to feel professional

Might professional learning be more impactful if we had a place to go and work that made us feel valued as professionals?

Photo of Chris Good

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Obligatory interior design commentary from the interior designer ;-)

Most educational spaces are not designed for the adults who live and work in these spaces. The few spaces which are distinctly set aside for them (Teachers Lounges) are often an afterthought - and typically filled with discarded, hacked, broken, and re-purposed items.

Could professional learning be made more impactful - or might teachers be more willing to engage in it - if they had a place to go to work, learn, and collaborate with peers that made them feel like valued professionals?


I would be really interested in learning  from all of you:

What kinds of interactions do you envision might happen within them?

Where should these spaces should be located?

What might they look like?

What would you want to find within one?


Thoughts? 

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Photo of Elsa Fridman Randolph
Team

Hi Chris, 

I'm struck by the observation you make that most educational spaces are not designed for adults. I wonder how we might make schools places for learners--children and adults. How might we design spaces that engage the lifelong learners in all of us, regardless of age? 

I'd love to think more about this idea with you. Would you be interested in collaborating? 

Photo of Chris Good
Team

Absolutely! 

If you want to take this offline- shoot me an e-mail cgood@oneworkplace.com
Otherwise we can do it here for all to share as well.

I don't think the failure to recognize adults is purposeful - I think it is an honest omission due to the deserving focus we put on students. But it is a harmful one, because if you cant meet the teachers basic needs (and space impacts us on all levels physically -emotionally - mentally) - it is going to severely impact his/her ability to reach students.  

Imagine a version of Maslow's Hierarchy for teacher needs!  When you feel like a respected professional - you are far more willing to invest in your own professional growth and behavior.

lately in the business world work space design has become a battle cry for organizations looking to attract and retain talent. Getting great people to join or stay with an organization takes a lot more than cool offices - but the tone set by bad or dysfunctionaly designed ones can be devastating. 

What does that say about education space  - when its workplace was designed with the people working within it as an afterthought.

Photo of Elsa Fridman Randolph
Team

Hi Chris, 

Completely agree!! Your point about the need to create environments that respond to teachers' needs and reflects their professionalism is reminding me of Leslie Ihrig 's post about the need to rethink teacher compensation models to reflect their degree of professionalism and hard work. https://teachersguild.org/challenge/how-might-we-reimagine-professional-learning-so-that-we-continue-to-grow-feel-inspired-and-have-impact-in-the-lives-of-our-students/ideas/teachers-are-professionals-so-let-s-compensate-them-accordingly

I've just started a Google doc for us to work on building out the idea further. https://docs.google.com/document/d/1JBVsUy1XkL62k60meOpaYckdT00lWbcSIMLMUC52cfo/edit?usp=sharing

Photo of Chris Good
Team

Thanks Elsa, I am all on it.
Give an invite to Trevor Croghan  as well, he is working on a similar idea!!!

Photo of Elsa Fridman Randolph
Team

Oo, excellent!! I'm excited to see this evolve! 

Photo of Trevor Croghan
Team

Funny - we were thinking along the same lines CG!  Used this one as inspiration for one I just posted with additional thoughts.  I invited a few people on this thread to join a team to develop the concept further.

Photo of Sarah Lundy
Team

For over a decade, I heard a variation of the following phrase multiple times a day, "You have a window!" (Always expressed with relief!).

The view from my second story classroom (cherry & birch trees, hills, early morning fog, sunsets) provided a shot of mental wellness for my students, for my colleagues & for me.

Include windows.  

Photo of Jessica Lura
Team

Yes!!!

Photo of Paul Kim
Team

How about giving teachers some funding to design their own faculty lounge or partnering with Home Depot or some such place to redesign the faculty lounge.  In the spirit of the maker movement, how about having teachers build the faculty lounge furniture as a part of the professional development at the beginning of the school year.  make sure all furniture pieces have wheels in the spirit of Margaret said in her comment.

Photo of Chris Good
Team

Lot's of empowering ideas here - Love that PD can be an activity (co-designing your own professional development space) that results in an end product which promotes more and better PD!

I'm sure there are lots of partners out there who could help bring a space to life ;-)

Photo of Jen Ortlinghaus
Team

Chris, your picture perfectly illustrates where we typically meet! In addition to the Teachers "Lounge" being unpleasant to the eye, parents often come through during meetings and interrupt. Or they accidentally overhear confidential information.  When the meeting is moved into a classroom, we are often asked to sit in tiny chairs designed for 6 year olds. We may also have to work at tabletops that haven't yet been cleaned up from the day's use.

I am in Sonoma county...hold meetings in a winery or a bicycle shop. Any professionally laid out space would work. Perhaps (very likely) someone knows someone who will donate the space. If not, there are many generous business owners who might be willing to donate their spaces in off times.

Photo of Brett Brownell
Team

Love seeing this Jen. Thanks for sharing.

Photo of Chris Good
Team

I really love the idea of giving teachers a place to meet that is NOT inside their school. It is amazing how attitudes, mindsets, and perspectives can shift (often our own) when we take ourselves out of one environment and immerse ourselves in another.

 How cool would it be to have an off-site Co-Working location for teachers from many schools or grade levels - where they can engage and work together (or work "alone together").  Bonus points if there is a bike shop involved. ;-)

Photo of Brett Brownell
Team

I'd love to hear your thoughts on this idea Jen Ortlinghaus since you posted Hold the Meeting in a Nice Place during Discover.

Photo of Jen Ortlinghaus
Team

Done! I just finished parent conferences and report cards, so I'll be back on the Teachers Guild now.

Photo of Margaret Powers
Team

Space is so powerful. As the Reggio Emilia philosophy says, the environment acts as a third teacher so how might we make that "teacher" one that is supportive and caring, personalized, inspirational, and inviting?

Personally, I want spaces that are flexible so I know I can go to them to do different activities (e.g., take time for mindfulness, do a DT challenge with colleagues, sit and connect with colleagues, learn something new). I also want spaces that are warm and inviting with natural light and bright colors and cozy/comfortable furniture. I would also want the space itself to be interactive (why can't teachers have Lego walls too? :)). I'll keep thinking on it but I love how you have posed the questions here to the group.

How might you invite more people to see/respond and what existing resources and spaces can give us insight into what might work well?