Editor's Focus: Teachable Moments

June 1, 2015
While there may be some truth for many to the saying “lazy days of summer,” it often is the complete opposite for education administrators, architects and facilities professionals.

While there may be some truth for many to the saying “lazy days of summer,” it often is the complete opposite for education administrators, architects and facilities professionals.

As students and teachers enjoy summer recess, those that plan, design, construct, maintain, operate and manage America’s schools and universities are capitalizing on the summer months to address critical infrastructure issues—busily renovating, upgrading, constructing, repairing, cleaning and improving facilities. 

But instead of operating in a void when it comes to facilities construction and improvement, many schools and universities are using the process as a learning experience. 

Construction projects often end up as major distractions to occupants in an education institution, disrupting the learning process and providing little short-term benefit to students and teachers. But, as many institutions have proven, this does not have to be the case. Savvy administrators are turning construction and improvement projects into teachable moments.

A recent example can be found at the Brookwood School, a private pre-K thru 8 institution in Massachusetts. The school and construction partner paid special attention to ensuring that as many aspects of the renovation and improvement project were intertwined with the curriculum. The partnership not only provided a unique learning experience for students, but also resulted in the project finishing two months early.

The school added construction themes to lesson plans and students and teachers were provided access to the project via regular tours, observational areas and more. This allowed the contractors to work during the school day, which contributed to the project’s early completion.

Other education institutions also have transformed construction and facilities-improvement projects into teachable moments. Many of these revolve around environmentally-sensitive design that can function as unique teaching tools—encouraging conservation and promoting long-term sustainability efforts. Some of these design and construction elements include daylighting, wind and solar systems, site and landscape design, eco gardens, green roofing, energy-efficient  building controls, and more.

As you embark on your construction and facilities-improvement projects, it can be beneficial to explore the possibilities that these projects can provide for teachable moments and unique learning opportunities.

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