The Design Challenge
The student body at Mission High School is very diverse, including large communities of African American and Latinx students. As a core part of their strategy to facilitate intellectual discourse across difference, the Mission team selected one large classroom, approximately three times the size of an average classroom, to fully transform as a space for creativity, collaboration, and intellectual rigor across difference. Currently, ethnic students and creative writing classes are taught in this student-centric, shared classroom. It also hosts student-led activities focused on the design challenge above. Throughout the design of this classroom, students from these classes as well as Mission High’s Student Advisory Council provided conceptual and aesthetic guidance and feedback on the design of the space.
“The Superintendent's Innovation Award has had a great impact on the group of students we initially identified for Summer Solstice and the approximately 80 additional students who are in classes designated as part of the vision to bring African American and Latinx students together in intellectual community. They say they feel valued and proud to be given such a space in which to work and their projects and actions in class support those words,” Pirette McKamey, Principal at Mission High School.
“I love how big the space is. We have room for bigger tables, unlike the small desks that we usually have in classrooms.”
“I like the openness, community vibes, and large space where we can breathe and be comfortable.”
“This classroom gives more of a community feeling unlike the other classrooms where we aren’t facing each other our backs are turned but this class we can all talk as one group.”
“Whoever designed this class is a creative genius.”
Highlighted Design Features
- Maker space where students can sit on metal stools and work on butcher block tables with all of the necessary creative supplies in a large cabinet near them. This zone is where students work on posters, hand-made books, and other student projects!
- Lounge with a variety of different comfortable seating that looks like a sophisticated hotel lounge. Assorted lamps and faux plants make the lounge an inviting and inspiring place to work individually and together.
- Booths that encourage small group huddles and collaborative work in a cafe-feeling area.
- Central instructional space that consists of comfortable chairs that move slightly with a student’s body as well as tables that flip up and can easily moved into different configurations. The primary configuration in this zone is tables and chairs in a “U” shape that promotes a professional, college-like socratic seminar discussion format.
- Other Design Features
- Portable Stage that can be configured as one large stage or broken up into a few small stages throughout the classroom. The stage allows the teachers to incorporate performative aspects to their lessons on a regular basis from poetry readings to debates.
- Mobile Whiteboards that students can move around the space to the different zones as they work on both individual and collaborative projects.
- Ample storage is critical so that students and teachers can access the tools and supplies they need in each of these distinct zones.
- Updated Paint has completely transformed the space. Originally a mustard yellow, the classroom is now shades in the purple palette that aesthetically tie the colors of the floor and the furniture together as well as provide the teachers and students a clean, calming, and inspiring feeling.
- Student-centered Mural (in process) is being designed to support and promote the theme of collaboration across difference. Under the leadership of a professional, Oakland-based muralist, Leslie Lopez, this mural will be completed in Spring 2020 and will consume a large wall in the lounge area. The mural will bring student creativity to the forefront in this classroom.
- Student work display areas along one large wall of the classroom provide spaces for students to make their learning visible by displaying both their work in process as well as their final products.