Burnet Consolidated Independent School District in Burnet, Texas is seeing a boost in student engagement after its installation of new learning spaces with the help of educational services partner MeTEOR Education. In the fall of 2016, the district began piloting the Inspired Classroom project, which uses an infusion of technology, high-impact classroom furniture and teachers’ creativity to create classrooms that look, feel and operate differently than traditional models.
The project began with a meeting with pilot participants in September 2016, to share ideas and lesson plans that would take advantage of the new furniture and technology offerings. The furniture was installed in October 2016, and from November through February 2017, two more meetings for sharing ideas, needs, and experiences were held. Technology training took place in December 2016.
Prior to the implementation of the Inspired Classroom spaces, students in the pilot classrooms took a 10-question survey concerning the furniture in their classroom, 43 percent of all students surveyed felt that the classroom furniture had no impact on how they learned. After using the new furniture for three months, students took the same survey again. Now, 88 percent felt that the furniture helped them learn. In fact, two out of three students felt the furniture had a significant beneficial impact on their learning.
Another major area of change was cooperative learning. Prior to the high-impact learning environment installations, only 25 percent of the students felt that classroom furniture made it easy to work with their classmates. Afterward, an astounding 94 percent felt that the furniture made collaboration easier, with more than half (55 percent) feeling that the furniture made it very easy to collaborate. In fact, students are now working with each other 60 percent of the time.
The furniture, technology and training not only impacted the students, but it also changed the instructional methods of Burnet teachers.
Survey results from teachers indicated that the new furniture has been a catalyst for thinking outside the box and making lesson plans more collaborative. Additionally, the flexible configurations have helped remove barriers for teaching, allowing students to re-orient themselves to different views of the room as needed and encouraging teachers to move around and be more involved.