The Future of the Faculty Workplace: A More Engaged World for Teachers

The Future of the Faculty Workplace: A More Engaged World for Teachers


Teachers are asked to do a LOT in the transformation to 21st century learning, yet little has changed in the way schools support them. So how can a school and its culture positively affect the demanding expectations on teachers?

We’ve assembled a team of teachers and designers that have been keenly interested in this topic for the last decade, studying the correlation of design’s affect on school culture, pedagogical practice, and ultimately student success.

Through our work with clients across the country, and exploration of innovative design strategies, we are tackling a lot of the big questions emerging in the K-12 education sphere:

  • How do we support more positive interactions between faculty and students?
  • How can space design help teachers bet=ter support the personalized learning styles of each student?
  • How can teachers better define their role as a teacher-leader as a result of being engaged in a professional learning environment?
  • How does reshaping teachers into teacher-leaders affect their morale and their sense of being treated like professionals?
  • How does the act of increasing positive interactions among faculty members affect overall staff morale and creativity in the delivery of teaching and learning?
  • How does dedicated faculty space support teacher leadership? How does it act as a barrier?
  • How does proximity to students, administration, and fellow faculty affect each of these relationships?
  • What lessons can we take from contemporary workplace design and apply to schools to create inspiring teacher support spaces?
  • “If you build it, will they come”? What role does school leadership play in successful professional development of faculty aside from well designed, inspiring faculty support spaces?
  • How can technology be utilized to help overcome outdated paradigms of current faculty workplace thinking?
  • How do we provide more effective collaboration and professional development to support evolving pedagogy?

All these questions and more will be addressed in our upcoming conference presentation at EDspaces, October 24-27 in Kansas City.  We’ll explore several case studies that may help schools unlock ideas of their own to advance faculty scholarship and teaching success. For example, STEAM Studio, the experimental learning space located in our architectural office, offers “live professional development,” where teachers work directly with their students while  translating their lessons into a creative Design Thinking process.

STEAM Studio in Gould Evans

At STEAM Studio, teachers are encouraged to become familiar with the “Design Thinking” process and the “anti-classroom”, which allows them to engage in “live professional development” (Image credit: Gould Evans).

Undertaking professional development with their students, in lieu of training in a remote room at district offices, allows teachers to develop their own soft skills such as wait time, which refers to not rescuing students who are struggling with their assignment, but rather letting them develop their grit to muscle through it at their own pace, and possibly failing. It also gives teachers experience with managing a “looser” classroom environment where students are working in a self-directed fashion, seeking the resources they need, and figuring out the next step versus waiting for the next instruction. And it allows teachers  to see how  offering choices to students increases their level of engagement and overall student success.

This professional development process has been a powerful experience with teachers, and has sent them away with new teaching approaches that they’ve immediately put into practice in their home classrooms.

students and teachers in STEAM Studio

Undertaking professional development with their students, in lieu of training in a remote training room at district offices, allows teachers to develop their own soft skills that encourage student success (Image credit: Gould Evans).

Another case study emerged from the Teacher’s Guild in the Silicon Valley area of California, where. teachers across the region routinely share ideas in an online community of practice. From their dialogue emerged the rather lighthearted idea of a “P.D. Pop-up Party Bus” – an escape pod of sorts to undertake professional development in environments foreign to the classroom. These teachers were keenly aware of how immersing oneself in a new environment unlocks new neural connections,  thereby opening new ways of thinking. It’s a great way to break from strongly held paradigms of teaching and learning.

Perhaps tossed out as a silly idea, the P.D. Pop-up Party Bus notion persisted, and through some serious follow-up, the idea is emerging into a mobile, high-tech professional development command center, adopted by the Sonoma County Department of Education. The bus is under construction and expected to be in-use at the end of the year. When complete, it will be a resource for schools throughout the Sonoma County region, and has the capacity to support a couple dozen faculty in any location that an air-stream trailer can get to. It also comes equipped with an abundance of digital and physical resources and has a pop out canopy that instantly creates an outdoor learning space wherever it’s at.

party bus

The P.D. Pop-up Party Bus provides an escape pod of sorts to undertake professional development in environments foreign to the classroom (Image credit: Trevor Croghan).

Join us at EDspaces to hear more about these ideas, and help us unearth future ideas via our interactive workshop. We’ll be joined by:

  • Trevor Croghan, One Workplace in Santa Clara, CA (also a former 6th grade teacher) –
  • Greg Owsley, math instructor and STEAM coordinator at Rockhurst High School
  • Stacy -Roth, Education Solutions Director at Scott Rice Officeworks.

Sign up now for the EDspaces conference! Doing so will also offer you the privilege of hearing two amazing plenary speakers; Sir Ken Robinson, author and education futurist, and Jaime Casap, Google’s Education Evangelist. We hope to see you there!

+ There are no comments

Add yours