Almost every aspect of life has changed over the last few months, and education has really been turned on its head. There are many ways to approach how we navigate these times, but the one myself and many others are advocating for, is to look for the opportunities and work together. By staying in a place of creativity and collaboration, we can keep education moving forward and create positive transformative change for our students now, and for generations to come.
“Amid the items perceived as “lost,” there are also opportunities for transformation that may be beneficial in the long-run. It will take time for the system to adjust, but in time, we may no longer remember a time before such changes. More sophisticated and flexible use of technology, a revived appreciation for outdoor spaces as an active participant in learning, and more engaging class sizes, are some of the changes that present opportunities to enhance learning practices well into the 21st century and beyond.” – Shaw Contract
Shaw Contract is a company that embraces creativity and collaboration; they offer flooring for dynamic learning environments to optimize engagement, support teaching and inspire learning. I’ve had the pleasure of working alongside them and other experts to intentionally examine how they can support learners and educators with the expertises they have. The result is a thoughtful resource called the Return To Schoolbook, a guide to help ease the transition back to school. Their innovative approach has been to create functional flooring as a solution to physical distancing, where flooring becomes an active participant in learning spaces by leveraging color blocking to signal six foot distances to learners, while also creating a vibrant environment that students and instructors look forward to being in.
This is a welcome resource for anyone in education right now, especially for those educators and administrators who are having to navigate potentially conflicting recommendations and guidelines. It also shows the power of collaboration and a willingness to innovate. By working with those whose intention is to continue creating the best equitable learning experiences for students and educators, new ways of thinking and forward motion is possible.
I’d like to say a special thank you to Michelle Carpenter, Director of Education & Government at Shaw Contract, for developing this resource and bringing together such a great like-minded group of contributors to help keep education moving forward. All the contributors you see below are deeply committed to keeping students at the center of their learning, honoring them as individuals, and creating safe, healthy environments that allow them to thrive now and into their future.
Collaborative Contributors to the Return To Schoolbook
- Kevin McDonough – Professor and Director for Teaching and Learning, Lackawanna College
- Bob Moje – Independent Consultant and Founding Principal (retired), VMDO Architects
- Dr. Lennie Scott-Webber – Principal at INSYNC: Education Research + Design
- Trina Ryan – Parent and Regional Vice President, Shaw Contract
- Tim Baird – Independent Consultant and Superintendent (retired) for Encinitas School District
- Bridgitte Alomes – Parent and CEO and Founder of Natural Pod
Here are some collaborative pages from the Return To Schoolbook between Shaw Contract and Natural Pod looking at ‘Flooring as an active participant’ when creating adaptable, engaging learning spaces.
I believe, now more than ever, that to truly support our young people and the educators who teach them, we should unite through collaborative practices and open dialogue whenever possible. By supporting each other and staying in a place of creativity, not only can we navigate these uncertain times, but together we have the ability to successfully enhance and transform learning practices and outcomes for our students far into the future.
In addition to downloading the Return To Schoolbook from Shaw Contract, please feel free to reach out to me or any of my colleagues above if you would like to discuss how together we can keep education moving forward and our students thriving.