Classroom design affects teaching and learning

The classroom certainly affects the teaching and learning experience. This is the view from the back of one of the auditoriums I teach in. I stopped to take this photo as I was leaving class.

Over the years, I’ve taught in lots of different classrooms – for university classes, high school classes, summer journalism institutes, conferences and workshops.  Auditoriums with seating for several hundred. Computer labs for 20 students. Classrooms with seats bolted to the floor. Classrooms where we could circle the desks for discussions. Classrooms with no windows. Classrooms with carpeted floors, wooden floors and linoleum floors. With a computer projection unit. With an overhead projector. With only a chalkboard.

I’ve taught in eight different auditoriums and about a dozen classrooms at the University of Florida. This is one of the auditoriums I’m teaching in this semester. In the last class meeting, a student and I spent the time before class working to reconnect the computer keyboard to the hard drive. Who knows how the cable got disconnected. You can envision us behind that cabinet to the left of the stage.

The worst classroom was the one I was teaching in about my third year of teaching high school. Our school was being renovated, and my classroom was located where the new section of the building was being added. The class got the extra learning of seeing how welding was done. One day as we were working away, we heard a crash from behind the window curtains. I had closed the curtains so we wouldn’t be distracted by the construction workers literally outside the windows.

When I cautiously opened the curtains, we saw that the window had been bricked up.

“The Cask of Amontillado,” one student gasped. Earlier that term we’d read that Edgar Allan Poe short story. We all turned in unison toward the classroom door. Whew — no bricks.

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