You might not believe it, but networking is just as important in school as it is at Chamber of Commerce luncheons. That’s not to say that students should hand out business cards, but rather that they should be allowed time to socialize.
Even younger students benefit from interaction with their peers. Interpersonal skills are just as valuable as academics and students need as much practice as they can get.
That practice usually comes in a school’s common areas.
As opposed to classrooms, the goal of a common area is to encourage socialization. However, students should also be provided the opportunity to continue their work if need be. Now more than ever, collaboration is important in education. That collaboration might not be between students in the same classroom at the same time.
Common areas now reflect collaborative thinking
Here’s how the modern common areas of a school appear:
- It’s actually possible for corridors and walkways to be extensions of the classroom through versatile furniture and tools like white boards. Small groups can work outside the classroom, no longer disturbing the other students.
- Modular and reconfigurable furniture that allows students to organize themselves in small groups or isolate themselves for solo studying, all while powering and connecting their devices.
- You can even utilize seating and other furniture in stairwells and landings, multiplying available learning space.
- Academic and administrative offices can be remade into collaborative work environments where students can partner with teachers, administrators, and counselors in a more interactive, collaborative way.
- With the right furniture, even outdoor spaces can be remade into multiuse common areas that foster socialization, collaboration, and learning.
The bottom line is that socialization is no longer just during lunch. Students find themselves in a school’s common areas at all times of day, for all sorts of purposes, and they are usually not alone.
There’s no need for common areas to be the last spaces considered in school design. With some creativity and the right equipment, every single square foot of a school can be functional.