How to Optimize Large Open Spaces
Hey teachers! This one’s for you! We know that your school building probably has spaces that can be better utilized. Maybe it’s a gymnasium that is rarely used or a library that has space to spare sans privacy. We’ve asked our friends at Screenflex, the leader in room partitions, to give us their thoughts on how to optimize those rarely used open spaces to enhance the learning environment.
One glance at news reports reveals that school districts are under more pressure to do more with less than ever before. With reduced government funding, fluctuations in student enrollment, outcome-based learning, and one-to-one technology, schools are forced to reevaluate the use of their space to accommodate the needs of their students. On top of these difficulties, they are also challenged to be resourceful with taxpayers dollars. So how can school districts accommodate all of these varying needs? By using portable room dividers school districts can modify their existing building to support the 21st Century learner with little use of available funds.
Libraries, theaters, cafeterias, lobbies and gymnasiums are often large rooms used for a singular purpose and go unused throughout the average school day. By using portable partitions, schools can increase the utilization rate of these spaces. Room dividers allow schools to make the most of open concept space by granting the freedom of customizing a space to suit the purpose for which it is intended.
Room dividers appeal to school administrators because they are relatively low in cost and provide a viable alternative to costly construction. Room partitions eliminate the cost of architects, permits and lengthy construction plans. There is also the insurmountable mess that accompanies traditional construction which is no longer a concern. If permanent changes to a building’s structure are not desired, but optimization of the space is, room dividers are the answer.
One of the goals of school administrators is to improve the building grounds in order to enhance educational services for the students. The key to achieving this goal is to have the opportunity to modify your space as different needs arise. Here are some examples of ways to use room dividers to improve the educational environment for students and teachers.
1) These sound absorbing, tack-able panels allow educators to provide collaborative working environments that are expected in education today. The room dividers allow you to reconfigure or repurpose the room using your existing furniture and resources. For instance, room dividers allow teachers to offer a space within their room that supports cooperative learning and sharing of ideas while also providing a space for quiet tasks away from the hectic classroom. A room divider panel can be set up in a portion of the room to create a quiet learning area while other students can work in a larger common space. They can even use the tackable panels as a work surface for projects and to share ideas.
2) By creating private sections in the classroom with room dividers, teachers can provide personalized learning. Teachers can work with students in the private area set-up behind the room divider. The benefits of these private rooms is to grant both teacher and student a private, quite space to optimize the learning experience.
3) By law, schools are mandated to provide special needs services to individual students who require them. Having modular walls can dissect one room into multiple rooms to provide the needed space for these services. For example, by separating a room into two areas, two teachers can teach and provide resources to two separate groups of students within the same room. This configuration also suits spaces for conducting private student assessments and conducting make up exams.
“Our high school library is a large open space built 25 years ago. At that time, it accommodated the needs of our students and staff BUT school libraries are no longer a quiet space. We needed the flexibility to create usable spaces for small group testing, presentations, and teaching stations. We LOVE our room divider panels because they help us address the needs of our students and staff. They are lightweight, ( yes, even ” veteran” librarians can move them ) attractive (our school color) and reduce the sound and distractions with multiple classes using our library. This is some of the best money we have ever spent!!” – Anita, School Librarian
4) Portable Art Displays. Not all room dividers are made the same, so be careful here. There are room dividers in the industry that are designed to adhere artwork, flyers, and displays on the panels with tacks, pins, staples and hooks. There has been an increase in using rolling partitions for art displays because of their versatility. Teachers and students can take their time arranging the artwork onto the panels and simply roll the panels into an area of the school to be viewed by parents and guests. Because the panels are on wheels, the display can be relocated throughout the school for different viewing times.
As previously mentioned, no two room dividers are alike, so it is important to do your research. Examine the quality of the materials used to create the dividers? Are they easy to move? Can you see around the divider as you position them? Are the units stable? Most of all, it is important to remember the overall goal: creating a flexible space with room dividers by addressing the needs of today and anticipating the needs of the future.
For over 25 years Screenflex Portable Room Dividers has been assisting school administrators in creating flexible space. Our design experts can create a 2D or 3D rendering outlining the use of room dividers to maximize your existing space. Contact your sales representative to learn how you can modify your school building today to cultivate an ideal educational experience for faculty and staff.