a very different space


We all know the value of physical space and the benefits it has on learning. Last week my students took things one (maybe two) steps further. I’m not even sure how it started…. one student made a comfortable space with a simple blanket and then others started to do the same. They were building, trading materials and supplies, negotiating, communicating, listening, designing, planning, innovating and on and on. I let it happen.

The result? The mood shifted. The focused increased. The creativity lifted. They were happy! This all happened on a Friday.

Then it was the weekend.

Monday morning came and students had been building, cutting wood, buying screws and tools and brought in things from home like lamps, pillows and toys. It was these touches that made their spaces feel very different. Once again, they took it to another level. And they did this on their own.

This natural and ever evolving process has revealed so many stories. Stories that are intertwined and overlap in the same moment. What they were doing is exactly what we want inquiry to be about. Where students are thinking about learning outside of school. Students are doing things that add to the experience. They take action without an adult instructing or guiding them.

While I am not pointing out the obvious, it made me stop in my tracks. I took a step back and observed what was happening around me. I realized that they are 10. They love to play. They love to hide. They love to escape. They love to pretend. We must never forget who they are at heart. The assessments, the testing, the home learning, the reporting…. Don’t let that stuff over ride you (and your students) and leave the creativity, wonder and imagination behind.


  1. Dorinda Truscott

    Thanks for your blog. Its posts like this that demonstrate how as teachers we can get caught up in the paper work and curriculum and lose ourselves. Not that these things aren’t important but equally is the mental well being of our students, building relationships and also changing the way school are seen to people. When students are safe and empowered they take risks in their learning, lead inquiries and want to explore more. Whilst creating an attitude and an understanding within classroom walls are important so is making the space inviting to the students regardless of age or ability.

  2. dfinesto

    You are talking about (and doing) something I have been reading about with deep interest – ‘making learning personal’. The book is entitled; ‘Make Learning Personal’ by Barbara Bray and Kathleen McClaskey. The What, Who, WOW, Where and WHY. It’s simply about putting learning back into the hands of the learner.

    To quote the blurb: “Through personalised learning, education as we know it is transformed as learners are empowered to take control of their own learning. This thorough and timely resource draws on Universal Design for Learning principles to create a powerful shift in classroom dynamics by guiding learners to become self-directed, self-monitored and self-motivated.” An inspiring read!

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