Redesigning the Classroom
Firstly, the main issue would be the management of any remaining toxic substances on the site. We must be totally sure that the site has no residual chemical or asbestos taint that could cause future harm.
The new classroom I would design would be open plan with a number of learning focus spaces to be used depending on the nature of the lesson. Desks will be in blocks to facilitate group work, with children having a cubby hole rather than a permanent desk space. This would enable easier mixing and matching of students into various group combinations. I would prefer if the room could be close to circular in shape with large sliding glass doors opening onto the garden. The class would be equipped with an IWB (with teacher inservicing) a wi-fi hot spot, and ipads for each child. The classroom displays would be student oriented with most of the displays put together by the students as part of their learning process, not just as a showcase of “nice” work. Each child must feel they are a valued and valid member of the whole class.
The outside garden would be an ongoing experiment in permaculture, with students being involved and learning how to sustainably produce fruit and vegetables safe for consumption without the use of chemical additives. The addition of chickens would also provide eggs on a somewhat regular basis. The garden could also lead into such areas as cooking and healthy diets, with children being introduced to fresh grown produce that they have helped to grow. This has shown in many examples to promote the consumption of vegetables in children who were previously reluctant to eat them.
The garden would also promote the ethics of working together to achieve a common goal with no one student owning anything the garden produces, and promotes the idea of sharing.