Giving Educators a Contemporary Teacher Space to Decompress
- April 30, 2022
- Anthony Bowie
When Voorhees Township Public Schools approached MiEN to help design six teacher space lounges, the district’s primary goal was to create contemporary teacher spaces where educators could have lunch, socialize and decompress. In addition, some of the spaces were intended to support teacher collaboration, common planning, and professional development.
The project consisted of six teacher space lounges in five different schools. “The district wanted it to be a great place for the staff to go and recharge,” said Miranda Klemp, Interior Designer at MiEN. To make that happen, the company incorporated a number of soft seating options and collaboration tables along with private work areas. By taking this approach, MiEN contributed to a space that enables:
Team planning: Large, collaboration tables or conference tables give teachers space to gather and spread out lesson plan materials and personal devices to work together toward a common goal.
One-on-one collaboration: Furniture pieces like mobile and swivel chairs and mobile and modular tables and desks allow teachers to “shift away” from other discussions in order to maintain focus or grow the conversation from one-on-one to a team collaboration.
Individual planning: Similar to a study corner in a library, these areas have space dividers to aid focus and a comfortable, supportive chair for maximum comfort during one of the few periods of rest teachers get throughout the school day.
To give the teacher space a “relaxed” feel, MiEN used a mix of blue and gray color options, plus some red in certain areas (as a way to incorporate the school’s colors). The soft seating in the lounges is equipped with power and some of the tables have in-surface power (i.e., recessed into the table’s surface).
For the most part, the teacher common area lounge spaces were left open with some break-off pods that feature a degree of sound-dampening. Teachers from all grades can come in, collaborate, talk about their current projects and enjoy lunch together. The project took just seven months to complete and was done without the teachers knowing. “It was supposed to be a surprise,” said Klemp, “so we finished it up pretty quickly and in time for the new 2021-22 school year.”
For its new teacher space, Voorhees Township Public Schools also incorporated both color theory and environmental psychology—both of which can impact how someone feels and works. Blues and greens or blues and grays, for example, are both considered calming color combinations. By using these color schemes, the schools went a step further in giving teachers a place to decompress and wind down—even if they only have 30 minutes to do so.
“We know that they have a lot of primary colors in their own classrooms, so the lounges definitely provide a welcoming respite,” said McNaught, who studied color theory in college.
“When I saw how bright some of the colors in the kindergarten classrooms were, I suggested a different approach for the teacher lounges,” she continued. “They were very open to using the colors that we put together.”
MiEN is currently working on a media center and about 10 kindergarten/pre-k classrooms for Voorhees Township Public Schools, which is constructing an entirely new wing for one of its schools (Kresson Elementary). To dealers or designers creating similar spaces, Klemp recommends including both collaborative areas and individualized zones. Soft seating is always a big hit and it helps to bring a “sense of home” to the workplace.
Voorhees Township Public Schools’ teachers love their new teacher space lounges. In fact, a few of them shed tears over how welcoming, modern and accommodating the upgraded spaces were. “That really touched me,” said Klemp. “The whole reason I went into design was to create an impact on people’s lives and hearing the positive feedback directly from the teachers was extremely rewarding.”