Podcast: Dr. Robert Dillon on Designing Learning Spaces

This week, your host Caroline Vander Ark is speaking with Dr. Robert Dillon about learning space design. Robert is an author, speaker, consultant, educator, and a lifelong learner. He has served as an educational leader throughout the Saint Louis area over the last twenty years as a teacher, principal, and Director of Innovation. Currently, he serves the students and community of the School District of University City as Director of Innovation Learning.

Robert Dillon has a passion to change the educational landscape by building excellent engaging schools for all students. He is also the author of four books on best practices in learning, with his newest being, The Space: A Guide for Educators, which focuses on how to create creative spaces for learning. In this book, he pulls from his experiences as a middle school principal for 15 years at an expeditionary learning school. There, he saw that students were able to take their learning opportunities at EL and expand them into other parts of their lives. Aside from sharing great information, the book is also beautifully designed. It’s the type of book where you want to doodle in it, jot down ideas, and share it with others!

Be sure to tune in to listen to Caroline’s and Robert’s conversation as they talk more about designing systems that work for all learners! You don’t want to miss Robert’s take on why space matters and how it plays such a big role in learning, where you can start as an educator who wants to create a learning space with their students, how a great learning space addresses the needs of all learners, and the design principles Robert thinks all fantastic learning spaces should have.

Key Takeaways:

[1:17] Robert shares a bit of the process behind the creation, layout, and design of his book, The Space.
[2:08] Why does space matter? Why does it play such a big role in learning?
[2:58] Where can you start as an educator who wants to create a learning space with their students?
[5:27] What does it mean to have students as co-designers of the space?
[6:50] What happens if the space you create with your students does not contribute to their learning in a positive way? What step should you, as the educator, take then?
[8:15] How classroom culture plays a big role in building a space.
[8:50] How has Robert seen great learning spaces address the needs of learners? And how has he seen great teachers use space to focus on equity?
[10:10] Robert offers tips and resources for teachers on how to manage their space and build classroom culture.
[11:39] Why are learning spaces an important part of students sharing their learning?
[14:40] Robert highlights an important component of learning spaces: time for quiet and building reflection time.
[16:02] Robert shares some of his favorite examples of learning spaces around the country.
[17:49] Basic design principles or structures Robert thinks each classroom should have.
[19:21] Robert gives advice for educators that maybe need to convince the leadership at the school to pilot a revamp of the learning space in their classroom.
[20:55] Robert speaks about how he sees technology woven into the design of great learning spaces.
[22:37] How has Robert seen some of the principles from learning spaces apply to communities?
[26:41] How can parents begin to think about learning spaces in the home?
[29:44] Where to learn more about Robert and his work online.

Mentioned in This Episode:

Dr. Robert Dillon
The Space: A Guide for Educators, by Rebecca Lousie Hare and Robert Dillon
The University of Melbourne, Australia
@DrRobertDillon on Twitter
#LearningSpaces on Twitter
#ActiveLearning on Twitter
Menlo Park Academy
St. Andrew’s Episcopal School
Dr. Robert Dillon on LinkedIn

For more, see:

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The Getting Smart Staff believes in learning out loud and always being an advocate for things that we are excited about. As a result, we write a lot. Do you have a story we should cover? Email [email protected]

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