When most people look back at their experiences in school, they may think of a subject that sparked a passion in them or perhaps a teacher that inspired their career path. Very rarely, if ever, the furniture that adorned the classroom is mentioned. And as much of a successful education is defined by the content and person teaching the class, how a space is set up can make a drastic difference.
School furniture is one of the unsung heroes of a classroom. Often underappreciated and overlooked, classroom furniture plays a larger role in a student’s education that we would imagine. Whether it’s a cubby corner for students to begin taking responsibility for their belongings or wheel-able desks that assist students to collaborate better, furniture - when you think about it - can make or break a learning environment.
Let’s explore how exactly classroom furniture has the power to transform the space to foster excitement and a sense of wonder in both students and teachers.
In the United States, there are roughly 180 days in a school year. Without counting extracurriculars or lesson prep, students and teachers spend on average 6-7 hours at school. And aside from lunch, recess, or free periods, the majority of a school day will be spent inside a classroom. Although it often goes unnoticed, classroom furniture plays a large role in setting the stage for a comfortable learning and teaching environment for both students and teachers.
Perhaps the most basic and important factor of any type of furniture, including those living in the classroom, is how comfortable it is. However, when talking about comfort, it’s important to note that we aren’t just referring to feeling physically comfortable. Studies have shown that solutions that speak to an individual’s emotional and mental well-being can drastically improve a space’s inclusivity, affecting learning and teaching success.
That is why numerous classroom furniture pieces take sensory ergonomics into account when designing their line of products. Sensory ergonomics refers to the shaping of an environment through adding or taking away stimuli to cater to the needs of those within a space. In layman's terms, this can mean changing colors, textures and layouts to create a welcoming and effective learning environment. While the importance of what color a chair is or what the table looks like may often go unnoticed, this seemingly unimportant aspect of education sets the scene for optimal academic performance in students.
2. Greater Flexibility for Teachers
When the new school year rolls in, teachers are greeted with new faces, new personalities, and new needs to answer to. And while they may have spent the summer lesson planning and brainstorming creative activities, the classroom is one place where anything and everything could happen. This is why teachers need tools to call upon at their disposal to help them stay flexible during all circumstances.
Just like a whiteboard or projector, classroom furniture solutions are an extension of a teacher’s toolbox in helping create an effective learning space. And since teachers must always stay on their toes, schools must invest in classroom furniture that is just as flexible as they need to be. Both students and teachers benefit from solutions that are designed with the “functional classroom” in mind. Pieces that are heavy, stationary, or just serve a single purpose can be unproductive and a waste of space. Plus, it can really limit a teacher’s options in creating an environment that encourages various learning styles.
Having adaptable furniture like Sit-To-Stand desks that are lightweight and have a range of configurations can open up a range of opportunities for teachers looking to incorporate interactive learning. Often times, there just never seems to be enough space or simple solutions that allow teachers to execute the activities they want to share with their students. Having pieces that are multipurpose and functional enough to be folded up, stacked to one side, or stowed away gives teachers the extra flexibility to be able to focus on sharing their material with the class.
3. Developing Soft Skills
For most people, Math, Science, History or English comes to mind when talking about “learning” in a school setting. However, what most people don’t realize is that the classroom is the perfect place to learn “undertone” skills that will prove valuable and useful in the future.
Soft skills, also known as “people skills” or “interpersonal skills”, are the nuanced tools that help you relate and interact with other people. These include communication, leadership, and time management to name a few. Since these skills exist on a spectrum, it’s quite difficult to measure whether someone possesses a type of soft skill let alone create a lesson to encourage its development. While it isn’t the most obvious method, classroom furniture plays an important role in giving students the opportunity to practice these key skills.
The right types of furniture can help create spaces for greater collaboration and the sharing of ideas for students. Plus, honing these skills in conjunction with the subjects and/or languages taught in school allows for a more robust and holistic approach to education. It’s important to create these collaborative spaces when students are young as their minds are constantly changing and adapting to their environment, also known as neuroplasticity. Students are still in their stage of development where they can easily soak up information and internalize it quicker and more effectively. So whether it be clearing all the desks for a class activity or linking 4 - 6 desks for group work, adaptable furniture solutions help students develop their soft skills to be well equipped to enter the workforce in the foreseeable future.
Furniture in Education - The Real Game Changer
Although teachers and administrators are the heartbeat of any school, investing in the right classroom furniture solutions are also invaluable to a student’s education. From capturing and maintaining their attention to setting them up for success in the future, equipping classrooms with furniture solutions made with teachers and students in mind can make all the difference. So it’s time to give credit where it’s due, and to celebrate the unsung hero of the classroom.
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