The classroom environment works as a third teacher, communicating expectations, invitations to learning, and opportunities for interactions. An intentional teacher considers all aspects of the learning environment in preparation for learning. There are a number of tools ECE teachers use to evaluate the classroom spaces for safety, interaction, and learning. However, one aspect often overlooked in these tools is the Aesthetic and Design aspect of the physical spaces, gathering places, or learning areas in the classroom. Read about how a Museum reconsiders their learning space ARTEC_2009_Research_Journal_1_Article_5
The AWL Aesthetic Environment Tool® is a simple tool to use in assessing and redesigning your classroom spaces based on Ellen Dissayanake’s five Aesthetic Operations. (Pinciotti, P. & Verba, E. (2013). Art as a way of learning: An aesthetic environment assessment tool. DRS CUMULUS, 2nd International Conference for Design Education Researchers. Oslo, Norway, May 14-17, 2013.) These Aesthetic Operations, hard-wired in our human brain, help us quickly make sense of an environment by awakening are senses and focusing our attention. A teacher that consciously uses the five Aesthetic Operations in designing learning spaces promotes a sense of belonging, mutuality, meaning, competence and a caring about important things. (To see some amazing Aesthetic Environments visit Pinterest Board: Aesthetic Environments, PRE K-4)
The Aesthetic Environment Assignment has three steps:
- Choose an area of the classroom in need of an “update”. Take a photo and print or sketch the space with all the items in the space.
- Analyze the space for its Aesthetic Impact based on the 5 Aesthetic Operations. Use the rubric to measure the impact and total the scores. (handout in class)
- Identify changes you would make to the space to engage children more fully in the space based on the the 5 Aesthetic Operations. Be as specific as possible.