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Welcome back; Natural Pod™ LIVE Episode Two is available to watch!

Bridgitte Alomes, Natural Pod’s CEO and Founder had the privilege of speaking with Jill Ackers-Clayton, Senior Learning Designer with award-winning education design firm Fielding International on this episode. Jill has used her own educational experience as a “challenging child” to explore how other children can be inspired and engaged with their environments. Listen to and watch the conversation with Jill below to learn more about how she brings empathy and compassion to her work in creating better learning environments that set students up for creativity, curiosity, and being active participants in their learning experience.

“When I walk into classrooms, 90% of the creativity belongs to the teachers, and only 10% is the students. When we don’t flip that from day one, students won’t feel the ownership of their space. It has to be intentional from the very start.” – Jill Ackers-Clayton

Episode summary – by Bridgitte Alomes, CEO of Natural Pod, and host of Natural Pod™ LIVE:

To create a student-centered space, we must look through the students eyes and experiences: Think about spaces you feel safe in, the spaces you want to be in. There are nooks, there are big spaces. There are gathering spaces with food. There are views to the outdoors. The most important part? You have the opportunity to choose which supports you, and the opportunity to move as needed, movement often provides one with greater focus.

Walk into your space on your knees, to look at your space from the view of your students. Is it inspiring? Do you feel ownership of the space?

What if we turn the ownership over to the students. What would they do with this space?

Many students, in typical circumstances, spend more waking-time at school with educators than they do at home with their parents. With this knowledge in mind, Jill and I pondered questions we could ask ourselves as we plan future spaces.

  • How can school offer a feeling of safety?
  • How do you achieve engagement, over compliance?
  • How can you teach students to see what’s inspiring?

As Jill and I reflected and dreamed about what the future of education will look like, we thought about creating safe spaces that students may not otherwise have. We thought about spaces where students knew their value, that their contributions were recognized and appreciated. Most importantly, we thought about how the conversation could change from “either or” to “yes, and…” moving toward creating as many opportunities for students as possible. The true hope is that in the future, education systems (schools) will be a true extension of communities, that community members will be invested in the education system to support the young people who will, in time, be in their position.

When thinking about the future of education and student voice, our hope is that kids and their perspective are not treated as tokens or a box to check off. Our hope and goal is to create generational sustainability around the stuff that works – this includes intentionally incorporating the student voice into the planning and design perspective. It’s not just about hearing their voices, it’s about intentionally and actively incorporating that voice, that perspective, into the planning and design process from the onset, to lead to the design of spaces that meet the context of what we know education can be, while respecting the next generation of learners based on their individual context that we have not lived. 

This and many other conversations with Jill have brought these ideas and action to my mind, that I hope others can find value, inspiration, and action from:

  • Work to meet people where they are
  • Plant the starting seeds for people to flourish from that point
  • Choices you can make today inspire the outcomes of tomorrow
  • Multiple voices in the room to create a dynamic future
  • Let ideas be big, before you make them small

Looking ahead, I will continue to shift my perspective, figuratively and literally, to see through the students eyes and experiences. I believe that this perspective will inform better learning environments, creating systemic, meaningful, generational change.

About Jill Ackers-Clayton

Jill Ackers-Clayton, Senior Learning Designer for Fielding International, is passionate about taking large scale educational projects from inception to systemic execution. Her experience spans Early Childhood, K-12, & Higher Education. She has worked in over 20 countries and in almost every state in the US. Her work includes designing learning environments, and leading workshops for school leaders and teachers. Jill’s future-focused work stems from a personal commitment to bold values for education, learner-centered environments, and constructivist methods.

About Bridgitte Alomes

Bridgitte Alomes, CEO of Natural Pod, is a thought leader dedicated to better environments for play, learning and collaboration using sustainable furniture. In her work with Natural Pod, she has helped create over 15,000 learning environments throughout the world. She’s engaged over 40,000 educators through her workshops and presentations and has been dedicated to creating play-based pedagogy and sharing the importance of the learning environment design. Bridgitte also serves as President on the board of the Green Schools National Network, creating broad-based initiatives and successful strategies aimed at fostering healthy, sustainable K-12 schools across the United States.

About Natural Pod™ LIVE

Natural Pod™ LIVE has been created for, and by, our incredible community of educators, students, architects and anyone with a stake in creating better learning spaces and experiences. It’s an online streaming talk show where we interview education leaders who are sharing their personal stories behind the challenges and opportunities of creating exceptional learning environments. Join us as we explore the new approaches for what’s possible in the future of education with the people who are making it happen. This is your opportunity to learn directly from them about their challenges and successes and how they are approaching this important education work.

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