Industry Spotlight

Q&A with the Editors — Ashley Houck, Senior Manager, Vertical Market K12, Safco Products

Safco Products' Ashley Houck, senior manager, Vertical Market K12, spoke with School Planning & Management Editor-in-Chief David Nagel about the major trends in classroom furnishings and their impact on teaching and learning.

What major trends are you seeing in classroom design that requires rethinking classroom furnishings?

We are seeing more personalized learning taking place in school environments. Students are able to choose how and where they learn and work best. This is leading to more flexible seating options throughout the classroom, allowing students to choose the seat that works best for them at any particular time. This might be an active or wobble chair to help them fidget, a stool or standard classroom chair. Schools are furnishing classrooms with a variety of seating to help ensure all student needs are met.

This is also true of desks and tables within classrooms. Desks, tables and height-adjustable options might all be used within one classroom to easily accommodate student needs and the lesson plan for the day.

How important is modularity and mobility for different types of learning spaces?

Modularity and mobility are very important across learning environments. Today’s classrooms need to be easily reconfigured to meet both student and teacher needs. This could be on a weekly, daily or even hourly basis. Having mobile products across all spaces can support a better learning environment by providing flexibility.

What are the most underrated features schools should pay attention to when they're selecting furnishings for any given space?

The most underrated features are the ones that are not tangible. Things like providing students with a variety of seating and desking/table options to empower them to choose can give them confidence and make them feel more a part of their learning environment. Having products to help students keep active, such as fidget stools, can have many benefits for the classroom and the student. Studies have shown that movement and more natural fidgets can help increase focus and productivity, while helping to engage kids in low-impact activity. Another feature to consider is having heads-down spaces where students can concentrate and be apart from the activity of the classroom. Sometimes students need to be by themselves and work or simply take a break. Since all students learn differently, these are all things to consider when looking for furniture for any school environment.