A new school does more than replace an old one—it opens up new ways of teaching and learning.
The new Middle School is expected to serve the Hockinson community for the next 50 years. During the planning process Superintendent Sandra Yager encouraged staff, students and community members to share local needs with the architects and to envision what education will look like in the future.
“In all those meetings, Sandra said, ‘Dream big, and then we’ll do what we can do,’” recalled HMS instructional coach Kim Abegglen. “They did a lot of what we dreamed about.”
Recently Abegglen and HMS Principal Brian Lehner shared a few of their favorite features of the new Hockinson Middle School.
Extended Learning Spaces
In the old HMS, group work often meant students met in the hallways. In the new HMS, students meet in “extended learning spaces.”
Located in each wing of the school and surrounded by classrooms, these spaces are furnished with high tables, chairs, and floor-to-ceiling white boards and tack boards—perfect places to collaborate on projects or to do independent work.
Windows in the surrounding classrooms enable teachers to monitor the spaces.
Multiple Seating Options
Like the extended learning spaces, the HMS classrooms have white boards and tack boards running floor to ceiling—a resource that gives students the option to sit and work where they are most comfortable. Some choose to sit in chairs, while others perch on “wiggle seats” or on the floor, while still others stand at tall desks.
“When we’re encouraging creative thought, some students really need to move. That movement’s connected to the brain’s need to organize,” Abegglen said.
“The seats and the desks were picked with the latest brain research in mind.”
Parents of today’s middle schoolers might recall classrooms equipped with a single screen and an overhead projector. Today’s HMS classrooms have multiple screens, which make sharing visuals with the whole class easier. They also can be accessed by individual groups working on projects.
The classrooms also are equipped with expandable walls. Neighboring classrooms can combine into one to hear guest speakers or participate in integrated lessons.
Asked his favorite part of the new school, Principal Lehner settled on a pretty low-tech feature: the light.
“I love the windows. It’s so bright in this building,” he said. “I find the attitudes are pretty good.”
Originally published in Hockinson’s February 2018 newsletter “ Education Matters.”