In the seventh instalment of a regular series by Singapore American School (SAS) on how to design a school, Superintendent TOM BOASBERG shares how they envision and transform every space into a learning space that’s adaptable. The school campus is currently undergoing a complete redesign and major upgrade. It already has new dining facilities and new athletic and swim sports facilities in Singapore, while the brand new elementary school building is tentatively scheduled to open in 2024.
What makes an effective student learning space?
There are many elements that work together to create the ideal learning space for a variety of student needs.
We worked with educators to establish some guiding principles before any design work began. Outlined below are those that we frequently refer to:
- Flexibility: Learning is an evolving process so spaces must be able to adapt to the needs of our students now and in 20 years.
- Student Wellness: The data is clear that student wellness and student learning are closely linked. We’re thoughtful about everything, from sound and air quality to temperature and direct connection to nature. We aspire to create student learning spaces that improve the wellness of each individual who enters the space.
- Relationships: Learning is a social activity and we want spaces that encourage connection between students and their peers and educators in rich and meaningful ways.
What types of learning spaces does the school currently have?
On the current campus, there’s a wide range of spaces. They range from the traditional one-room class to more flexible spaces where students can receive individual support, small group touchpoints and larger whole-class presentations. We’ve spent the last six years creating pathfinder spaces across campus to help us learn more about what works and what doesn’t. This helps inform our current design process for the new building.
What types of spaces can the SAS community expect in the new campus?
We’re excited about new student learning spaces like a dedicated robotics studio, wellness facility and several new dining areas. Beyond these specialty spaces are the purpose-built learning community spaces that will offer each student an optimal place to grow. Some students learn best in groups and when working with peers; others need a space that is quiet and allows them to process at their own speed.
The new spaces adapt to the needs of the student and empower them to select the right space for the activity they are engaged in.
Hear from a student and teacher…
“I remember at the start of the year my teachers in our ninth grade learning community stressed upon following the Eagle Way. Students in every class voted on a list of norms to follow, giving themselves freedom to form their own community and the responsibility of respecting each other, regardless of their identity.” – Andrew, tenth grade
“What do student learning spaces look like? They look like the wildest and most beautiful chaos – children laughing together while balancing equations. Really! When every space is a learning space, every adult in the building can use that to guide a student toward a greater understanding of themselves and the world around them. And the learning can be foundational, transformative and fun.” – Lucas Smith, seventh grade English Language Arts teacher
This article first appeared in the October 2023 edition of Expat Living. You can purchase the latest issue or subscribe, so you never miss a copy!
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