I know you have heard me talk a lot about Destination 2026, our district’s strategic plan to guide the instructional future of our schools. This plan has truly been our roadmap for each and every decision we have made in our district, even down to the furniture in our buildings.
One of our district objectives from Destination 2026 is that “student learning will be maximized through the creation of purposeful, safe physical and virtual learning environments for students and staff that promote communication and collaboration.” So, to this end, we’ve been on a journey for several years to transform many of our learning environments.
What we know is that, in today’s schools, students need opportunities to move beyond desks in straight rows all facing the same direction if they are to develop the communication, critical thinking and collaboration skills that are now more important than ever. Flexible furniture helps us nurture these skills and comes with other benefits as well including physical health, comfort, sensory input and individualized education.
If you walk into any of our school buildings right now, you will see many examples of this flexible furniture in action. At the elementary schools you will find wobble stools and bean bag chairs for when short attention spans of primary-aged children need a change of scenery. At the junior high there are chairs and tables of different heights to allow students a choice to sit or stand, and almost all chairs are on wheels to easily allow for group discussions and classroom movement.
But the most prominent example of this flexible school furniture is at Mariemont High School, where we are working to prepare the students for the demands of college and the workforce. Our new state-of-the-art high school building is equipped with dozens of flexible spaces for students to take advantage of, like department collaboration areas, small group rooms, the community forum, the activities forum and the Hub. Additionally, technology screens and writable surfaces are available throughout the building to make group work easy and efficient.
These spaces and furniture pieces in all of our buildings have been crucial in teaching effective collaboration at all levels. They also help create an environment where students are comfortable and excited to learn each day.
I am proud of our district for trailblazing into this flexible furniture pedagogy. I believe it is truly making a difference in the environments we are creating for our students every day and setting them up for success both now and well into the future.