Why are your walls blank?
It’s a question we’ve heard on occasion. Like everything at Redwood, there’s intentionality to that. At the beginning of the school year, our blank walls are an invitation – a canvas waiting for our students to complete. Student representation and self-expression are key components of the Redwood academic program, and leaving the walls open for their creative contributions is one of the ways we can make sure they see themselves as contributing members of the school community.
At the beginning of the year, our walls are blank, waiting for our students to fill them, but visit us again in a few months and our classrooms will have been magically transformed by our students and will tell a story of the joyful learning that happens at Redwood.
And our method is getting noticed! Last year, when we had our ISACS accreditation team visit at Redwood, one of the things that really stood out to them was the way we proudly displayed the work of our students and allowed them to be seen, valued, and to feel a sense of belonging in their classrooms and at school. Specifically, they gave us the following major commendation.
The ISACS visiting team commends Redwood Cooperative School for its Exhibition of student work throughout the school. The products developed through the processes pursued in the classroom are widely displayed throughout the school. The motif of the classrooms and hallways are as emergent as the curriculum and demonstrate progressive methods. Students shared that they had never been able to create unique artwork and other personalized products in previous schools. To have such dedication to original works and to display them prominently throughout the school and greater Lexington community is clearly a source of pride and self-fulfillment.
Our students’ ideas and opinions matter. They are the foundation of the emergent and student-led curriculum we create. Their creativity is something to be celebrated, and putting it on display throughout the school is not only motivating for them, it reminds us each day of what is truly valuable in the work we do. From the class-created annual commitments, to our family walls, to the work students proudly display, our walls are brimming with possibility and representation of the most important members of our community.
Research also indicates that students’ sense of representation in the classroom leads to greater participation and a sense of responsibility (Barrett, et al., 2015). See section 1.3.2 of the attached article for more information about the impact of classroom design on student learning.
Do you have a space you would like to recreate to make it more child-centric and child-led? Check out the texts on the website below from author and international consultant Dr. Sandra Duncan. Dr. Duncan facilitated a two-day professional development for Redwood teachers during the summer of 2022 to help us create our joyful and inviting learning spaces.
Read more – Dr. Sandra Duncan