We are in the midst of transforming the school audio-visual room into a flexible classroom that is aimed to enhance teaching and learning in the school.
We believe that the physical environment is vital to support students' learning experience, and that a well-designed space is supposed to be a right for everyone, not a luxury only for the privileged.
Funding is definitely a challenge to bring in physical transformation, and we are actively generating fund for the room to be completed before the next school session starts. It is hopeful for the renovated space to be the pioneer ground for further research on the effect of a well-designed space towards students' behaviour.
We have also reached out through multiple medium as we believe for a transformation to be sustainable, it requires collective effort from everyone! Let's start small and be part of the transformation!
Be it in cash or in-kind, light or bold, every little contribution matters to bridge the gap and provide what every student deserves - an excellent education.
Our school operates in both morning and afternoon session. Some classrooms are shared between the two sessions, 10 classes are even made convertible as multipurpose hall with rusty roller shutter as the divider. Therefore, it is hard to keep up a certain principal condition and at the same time leaving very little room for lesson flexibility too, as it involves class teachers and students for both sessions. This in turn does not motivate the students to maintain the classroom as they do not feel truly belonged, which to a certain extent has allowed room for rowdiness and challenging classroom control with “This is so troublesome”, “The other session will clean this up”, “It is very tedious” “This is a waste of time” mindsets.
The condition of the classroom with broken electrical outlets and vandalised white screens as well as over-sized and non-modular tables are also currently not supporting the lesson delivery.
Unusable vandalised white screens
Time, an essential aspect in a lesson, too had to be compromised when teachers needed to set up the projectors and speakers, manage the students while they are at it, as well as rearrange the classroom before and after the lesson.
With regards to this, we noticed that the classroom control is a lot better and the students are better engaged in the school’s Audio-Visual (AV) Room.
Hence, in order to give teachers the room for creativity for each lesson they plan to conduct with increased students’ participation, we are proposing to transform one shared space, in this case, Bilik APD, within the whole school community as a start.
The rationale behind this is that we found out that the shared space already have a few fixed structures to maintain the tidiness as a common space while at the same time it is able to control the students behaviour as they know Bilik APD is one of the school’s ‘Bilik Khas’ (special room) that is shared with the whole school. A change we would like to see is that this room will maintain its exclusivity while allowing flexibility by not limiting the teacher’s creativity to play around with the classroom layout for each unique lesson plan they wish to conduct.
From the survey we have conducted with the teachers, 100% respondents unanimously believe that a well-designed space have a positive impact on the students’ learning and their teaching in school but differ on the value they would want to invest in creating one. On top of that, 60.4% of teachers do believe that students can focus more when learning in Bilik APD.
Instead of leaving this room to be used only when there is no classroom to be utilised or just to watch an audio-visual presentation, we are affirmative in the future impacts by tackling on this transformation of such high-potential space to increase students’ learning behaviour and environmental experience.
By tackling what the users, ie students and teachers see and how they feel in the learning space.
After consultations and reviews, we have come up with the design shown in the video above. We decided to put our full focus on only Bilik APD at the moment.
Our principal and the library teacher (Guru Perpustakaan dan Media) are giving us the trust to take on this challenge. On top of that, our students are definitely in for this and have been actively involved towards realising it.
One of our Form 4 students sharing his views on 21st century learning and Cikgu Ong explaning the 3 pillars of innovation readiness.
Students in 3 teams: Fine, Find and Fund who work together to bring changes in the library and Bilik APD.
Future leader librarians in the making!
However, the condition of this special room is also deteriorating with broken window panels, malfunctioning air-conditioner, and crumbling concrete floor leaving the room with harmful dust floating around the room and inarguably bad thermal condition. American Lung Association has listed ‘reduce the amount of dust and dust mites in the classroom’ as one of the Healthy Air Walkthrough classroom checklist in order to provide a healthy learning environment. A whopping 75% of respondents in a study by Sofian et. al. (2015) at Sekolah Agama Menengah Tinggi Sultan Hisamuddin state that they are not satisfied with the thermal condition of their classroom and would like to have a lower temperature for them to learn conducively.
Students in our school also give a similar response when answering the survey we conducted where each and every student out of the 300 sample respondents mentioned ‘air-conditioner’ or ‘temperature’ as one thing they would like to change in Bilik APD.
The results from the survey among teachers also shows that the users are open to changes and would like to see a transformed space to facilitate the lesson delivery.
The fanning gesture that students do is indeed distracting, on top of it there are times where teachers had to give students a break to cool themselves somewhere else and even abruptly stop the lesson 15 minutes earlier as they could not stand the heat. This however takes up so much time to get the students back since it has disturbed their momentum.
Despite the current condition, we managed to experiment with various classroom layouts that cater to different lesson plans. Thus we truly believe in the potential that this space has in order to promote a new learning environment that can influence the students’ learning behaviours.
The school library and audio-visual room should promote a conducive and interactive space for students to learn. Renovating these spaces is aligned with the National Education Philosophy that states how education in Malaysia is an ongoing effort.
People, process, and place are all important in their own ways, but we often only hear people talk about innovating the way we learn by demanding a shift in the way the school administrative work should be done and sharing multiple pedagogical approaches to teach the students in this 21st century.
However, there is a lack of serious action taken in bringing in changes in terms of the physical learning environment although the design of the place students learn greatly influences how they behave in them. We found that the students do not show interest and ownership in their learning. This is because they are reluctant to change the current state as they believe that things are meant to be the way it is. It is a shame to see that some classrooms look the same now as they did years ago. Instead of revamping the whole school, we are proposing to start small by focusing on a specific common space with potentials.
We highly hope that this change would give a tangible feel of transformation to kick-start the students' mindset and motivation to bring change in their learning.
Green (2005) and Barret et. al. (2016) among many other researches have shown that although it is hard to measure direct impact of physical learning environment, many schools see the return of their investment through students' motivation and behaviour as well as the teachers'.
We greatly appreciate your support in our cause and we hope that once this initiative completed, the result from this transformation would be a useful trigger to all of those who are interested in the school built environment and in the long-run influence government investment to take place in public schools.
We had conducted a pre-transformation survey among the students and the teachers earlier 2019. A similar post-transformation survey will be conducted to measure the changes in the users' experience. An immediate test would be to observe the student's behaviour during lessons.
Eventually, we want the classroom to be a flexible classroom. We look forward to seeing how this new space being utilised by the teachers according to their creativity too.
We have been glorifying the Finnish education shift that we see today. In our country, it could still be politically and practically difficult to emulate their willingness to take on the risk to invest in high-specification school building by revamping the old ones, but all we need to do first is to start with believing, and we should start today.
Because their transformation too, did not happen in one night in fact it took 60 years before the traditional school becomes open floor classrooms that we see today.
They were willing to invest, 60 years ago.
Because at the end of the day, it's all about investing in something we might not see yet, but if we believe and we have faith in the impact that it could bring to our education, it is going to be worth every ringgit and every minute.
Join us in sparking a change for something better 60 years from now. For now, we, Cikgu Ong and Cikgu Diyanah are starting with the potential that we see in front of us, our humble Bilik APD. Let's reimagine our space and optimise it to its full potential.
"After all, what's bigger of a waste, than a waste of potential?"
We greatly appreciate all kinds of supports. We are only asking for 40% of the estimated cost as we have been actively reaching out to multiple medium and sources for in-kind contribution too. It is a collective effort thus we believe that a physical transformation in public schools is feasible and sustainable if everyone works together in realising one. Let's start small and be part of the transformation!
Be it in cash or in-kind, light or bold, every little thing matters to bridge the gap and provide what every student deserves - an excellent education.
Your kind contribution will go a long way!
Shall you require further information on how you can help, please do not hesitate to contact us, Cikgu Diyanah (+6 012 420 9645) and Cikgu Ong (+6 010 211 1337). Thank you.