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5. Final Review To understand the impact of these changes, I had students repeat the post-it activity with the previous two prompts, along with two additional prompts. This was done a few months after the changes, to obtain their final evaluation. Areas/things that give you a positive emotion Areas/things that give you a negative emotion I found that these were the three most important and positive changes: • Providing shelves for individual cubby holes. This fostered a sense of personal organisation, gave a sense of progress as it filled up, and reduced the threat of things going missing. • Replacing bulky tables with lightweight ones. This allowed for different table configurations. The tables made the room look less cluttered, encouraged sharing and conversation, were aesthetically pleasing, prompted cleaning, and allowed for more sustained attention spans. • Creating a refuge area comprising of sofa, carpet, snacks and plants. These gave options beyond working at a desk and served as a cosy area for breaks. It helped some people to calm down, and reduced the stress level of the entire room. The food energised and motivated users. What you perceive to be the most important change? Other comments or suggestions for future years? SO WHAT NOW WHAT Refuge is a priority not a luxury. Refuge spaces are semi-private spaces one can retreat to, away from central social spaces. They are restorative and highly desirable in public and work spaces. As we seek ways to promote the emotional well- being of students and colleagues, we can consider elevating wellness through features in our environment. Unfinished Business. While I have observed that only one-third of the class use the refuge space regularly, the difference it has made to those who struggle with anxiety and stress or physical discomfort, shows it is critical to create more of such spaces in our schools. Cultivating Cleanliness Diagnosing the perennial issue of students not cleaning up after themselves required more thought: was it that they could not clean because they were unable to, or was it because they were unwilling? The former would be a resource need that could be easily solved; we could increase accessibility to the right cleaning equipment (brooms, bins, rag, soap), facility (sink) and floor space (less obstructions). The latter required psychological priming for ownership and initiative. The users needed to value the ‘best state’ of the room they owned. The risky choice of light- coloured furniture that did not hide dirt was a conscious decision. This prompted the students to notice and address any stains they unwittingly created. Also, teacher modeling took place over a few months. We deliberately tidied the room in their presence. While I’ve noted that occasionally some instruction is still required, students are engaged when cleaning and they take the initiative to reach a higher standard of cleanliness. Handing over to the next batch of users in 2020 and their teachers is the last part of the journey. Some parts of the space may need to be reassessed and transformed to meet the needs of future users. There were also new issues that were not previously ‘diagnosed’ but were now flagged as possible sites for future improvements. Recommendations: 1. Make plain to the students what you are doing at every step. Collect their input during discussions and show them the effect of their suggestions and efforts. 2. Dare to dream: do your research, which may not only be confined to books on art and education. 3. Test things out physically to ensure the right fit: visit physical stores instead of relying on online options. 4. Work with key personnel and school operation managers who can support your efforts in unexpected ways. 5. Start somewhere, at any scale. All these are possible thanks to the trust, logistical support, guidance and encouragement of my NJC colleagues and most importantly the ‘O’ level class of 2019 for being the motivation and collaborators to realise these changes! To my fellow art teachers, think about what kind of learning environments your students learn better in and find ways to make them a reality. References: Finley, T., & Wiggs, B. (2016). Rethinking classroom design: create student-centered learning spaces for 6th-12th graders. Lanham: Rowman & Littlefield. Keedwell P. (2017) Headspace. London: Quarto Publishing Niemeyer, D. C. (2003). Hard facts on smart classroom design: ideas, guidelines, and layouts. Lanham, MD: Scarecrow Press. 38 39