Spaces for Learning: The New 3-Classroom Building in Action

See here.

Short of paying a visit yourself to get a feel for this new space, the best way to enter it is through the voices of the teachers and students:

Carrie Abbott, 3rd grade teacher, says, “The new classroom has had a very positive impact on my teaching experience….The large windows let in so much natural light, which is very uplifting. The whole classroom feels very cohesive…as we are all in the same space and are all visible to one another. The children are able to do group work, whole class work and individualized projects with ease. I also love being connected with Mary and Laura. We have our doors open in the mornings so that we can chat with one another and our students can come in and out of one another's rooms. It makes it easy for us to share class projects with one another too.”
In fact, in the beginning of the school year third-graders wrote thank-you letters to the architects of the new building:
Will wrote, “Thank you for designing the amazing new building. I like that you made plans about this new building. I like the drawings you made. I like the plans about: the outside of the building, the inside of the building, the walls, the tables, the plants, and the windows. The bathroom has a new soap dispenser, and a new sink…. I like the old plants near the ramp and all the other new things.”
And Marley composed the following list of her favorite things:
“the windows because they let so much light in,
 the slidey doors between each classroom because you don’t have to go outside,
 ramp because stairs make your legs hurt,
 window seat because it is nice to have a sit down place,
 spacious because it is nice to be able to walk around.”
“In fourth grade,” teacher Mary Louise says, “the light and tall ceiling provides a natural burst of energy that is sustained throughout the day.  The windows that look out into Francesca's yard are lovely because we see the chickens running free.  The lines within create openness and the way the light comes in inspires our minds. It is so clean, which is like our blank canvas.  Also, the children take so much pride in this space and always comment on how beautiful it is and how alert they feel to the light.  I LOVE being next door and connected to third and fifth grade.  Hearing joy from either side of the fourth grade is inspiring for the kids.  It creates an element of wonder to hear sudden boosts of excitement from our learning trifecta!  As a community it reminds us of all the learning that is happening all around us.”
Forrest concurs, “My favorite part about our classroom is how much light there is. It’s like a light bulb outside shining in the classroom….That is just a ‘crumb’ of the entire ‘bread.’”
And Daisy reminds us, “I like the new building because, first of all, who wants to spend their whole time in a basement?”
Laura Maier, 5th grade teacher, who, we may recall, taught the past few years in the Big Room, says, “I finally feel like I have my own space to have lessons in progress and not feel like we have to pack everything away every day. The lighting in here is SO nice and I feel like it affects the kids’ moods to have more sunlight and also for them to have a space that is their own; the kids get to help with the decorating and with the displays. In the past, I often felt like I was borrowing things from other classrooms all the time.  Now I have more supplies and more resources on hand so the kids can be more creative and not feel like they have to go foraging for whatever they want for a project. It’s nice to be able to pop in and chat with Mary and I can also connect with Carrie.  3rd, 4th, and 5th graders are connecting more -- 5th graders are hanging out with 3rd graders more than ever before.”
5th grader, Sam, says, “I love the new building because I (and others) get to be in it for our last years at Valley. Here are the top four reasons why I love the new building: 1) Because I can be connected to the 3rd and 4th graders; 2) Because the classroom is very cozy; 3) Because the bathrooms are SO much nicer; and finally, 4) Because I feel very free in there (e.g. walking around the classroom for no reason at all).”
Indeed, while the new classroom building has added so much to the Valley School community of learners and teachers, it has done so in a way that reinforces and facilitates what The Valley School has always been: collaborative, creative, cozy, and (except for those old basement classrooms) light-filled.
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