Ideal Secondary School Learning
By Patrick O’Conner
1) The design of the school would attempt to provide all of the
resources of a large school to a smaller student body.
2)Spaces would be created and time would be available to
ensure all students find things they enjoy doing, with an
emphasis on encouraging both intrinsic learning and college
or career paths.
3) Design would encourage students to make things and do
things. Spaces would be created to give students a chance to
apply knowledge and discover interests in a safe environment
4) Results-oriented but students will be encouraged to take risks
and learn from failure.
• Music Rooms: My school would include a large classroom for music
instruction plus adjacent sound-proof rooms available for students to practice with
• There would be large art studios where
students could create painting, sculpture, etc.
• Media Center would include plenty of computers and would have staff
knowledgeable in media research and technology. There would be classes taught
on the use of technology for research.
Student-run media: school website, on-line yearbook, weekly “newspaper”, podcasts, videos.
Coordination with local news outlets. Emphasis on application of skills to coordinate and
create written and verbal content using up-to-date technology and social media.
• Several foreign languages would be offered and every student would be required
to take them. Ideally these programs would start in elementary school so middle
and high school instruction could build on that foundation, but there would be
instructors qualified to teach beginning through advanced level courses.
Students would have spaces to build things and apply concepts learned in math and
science classes. Students could design simple structures, and coordinate with vo-
tech students to build structures designed in class. The school would have
instructors able to teach both design and construction. There would be areas on
the school grounds for building.
• The school would have an auto-shop for aspiring mechanics, a tool shop,
an area to train plumbers, and a simulated hospital room for a pre-nursing
The school would have resources available for a top-notch ROTC program. Space
would be made on the Support Services wing for a full-time military recruiter to
meet with students and parents.
A variety of sports would be offered in all seasons. The school would have a first-class
gymnasium and fields to accommodate intramural sports. All students would get a
chance to participate on a sports team, whether or not they’re good enough to
make the varsity team.
• The School would have support services for the families of students. It
would occupy an entire wing of the school. It’s function would be to focus
on the student rather than content. The idea is to take care of all of the
“peripheral” issues so that instructors can focus on content area. This way
education could be focused on the overall development of the students
rather than merely a list of learning objectives. Helping families would be
part of the goal as well. Adult literacy programs, programs about
adolescent development for parents would be offered. Boys & Girls Club,
Scouting, church youth-groups and other community-based organizations
would have space available for use after-hours.
• Schools would be accessible to students and families nights
and weekends. Maybe not 24/7, but extended hours would
allow access to resources that some kids do not have at home
and enable students who need additional help to catch up.
• It would serve breakfast, lunch and dinner.
• Healthy options would be available for meat-eaters and vegetarians alike, as well
as those with other particular dietary needs.
• In addition to serving meals, the cafeteria staff would be qualified to teach
students about nutrition, food preparation for home, and culinary arts.
Opportunities would be available to teach restaurant management.
• To-go meal bags would be available on weekends for needy students.
• After hours tutoring programs would be available for any student who needed them
and supplemental tutoring could help students who are able and motivated to push
beyond what is being learned in the classrooms. This would include help with music and
• The school would not have one guidance counselor, but instead would have
several. Students would be assigned to a particular counselor based on their
chosen career or educational track, but there would also be counselors available to
deal with mental or emotional health issues as needed. Counselors would be
basically teachers without content area whose job would be to focus on students
rather than subjects. They would have spaces available for counseling on the wing
of the school set aside for support services
In this day-and-age people will change jobs frequently. My school would have a
classroom and instructor oriented towards teaching students how to create a
resume and how to apply and interview for jobs. Instead of one guidance
counselor, there would be several and one would coordinate with local employers
concerning job openings, internships, and apprenticeships. Students would be
taught how to find employment, how to keep employment, how to negotiate
salary, ask for raises, and how to transition to another job or another career.
• Classrooms will be large and have spaces to
accommodate various groupings of students
and different styles of teaching and learning.
• There will be space to create and collaborate.
• Smartboards would be available in every
• There would be computers at every desk.
Perhaps built-in tablets that could serve as a
desk surface when not in use.
Space to Fail
• Failure is a key part of success. My classroom
will be designed to give students the space
and opportunity to try new things, to take
risks, and to fail in a safe environment, then
learn from that failure. Practice makes
Different Learning Styles
• My classroom will enable me to differentiate
instruction and accommodate the different
learning styles of my students. Students will
be able to develop in spaces designed to give
them the ability to learn in their own way at
their own pace.
• One possible layout I created for a high school. It would be a large classroom
designed for a 15 students. There would be space for traditional column-and-row
seating for lectures or if the teacher needed control, as well as spaces for working
in smaller groups and for brainstorming/storyboarding projects.
• The design tool I used to create my classroom
can be found at
• My School and Classroom will be designed to:
• 1) Integrate education in content with overall
development of adolescents
• 2) Encourage creation and intrinsic learning
• 3) Provide paths to adulthood and
• Music room: http://redpocketacoustics.com/your-space/at-schools/
• Art Studio http://www.pantego.com/support-pca/a-bold-future-introduction/naming-opportunities/
• Student Broadcast: http://jacksonville.com/news/metro/schools/2009-10-
• School web page: http://www.effinghamschools.com//site/Default.aspx?PageID=7900
• Sound-proof: http://bankstownacademyofmusic.com.au/gallery-page/
• Career counselor http://www.absoluteadvocacy.org/careers/
• Open Sign: http://blog.sikara.com/frisco-friday-stop-into-sikara-sf-this-saturday-cause-were-open/were-
• Cafeteria www.babble.com
• Foreign language: www.openculture.com
• Engineering: www.yatzer.comwww.lifehealthpro.com
• Tutoring: http://farandk.yolasite.com/20-hours-teachers-and-tutors.php
• Athletic field: www.featurepics.com
• Jrotc: www.usarak.army.mil
• Vo-tech www.lehighvalleylive.comwww.pennlive.com
• Smartboards: www.havernschool.com
• Computers: www.edutechassociates.net