The Value of Impromptu Shared Use

Conference Room or Classroom?

It seems like the trend of shared use has gained most momentum among schools and institutions of higher ed. That’s not surprising given that financing can be a major motivator – if a school or university can offer their space to the community then they can partner with public entities to help fund and design the buildings. But, what about impromptu shared use? Can a professional workspace not designed with a classroom in mind be transformed into a successful learning environment? This idea was put to the test when my son’s first grade French immersion teacher offered to lead a summer school class but had no place to hold it. Without much thought (but with a quick OK from our CEO), I volunteered a space in our office. With some furniture changes, additional bean bags, a cowhide rug and some lesson-themed décor, a somewhat forsaken conference room not only now has a “pulse” but a renewed sense of energy. It’s hard not to have a “wow” moment when you walk by and hear children absorbing another language while having fun at the same time. It’s unfortunate that the kids will soon return to school and no longer need our space (although some have asked if they can come back next summer) but, it’s exciting to think, “what can we use our space for next?”

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