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Understanding Educational Visioning Part 4: Pedagogy

January 31, 2022
Students nestle into the reading nooks created by the large letters spelling "Storyland" in the entrance to the school's library

This is the final post in our four-part series looking at educational visioning and its role in the school design process. Read part three.


Districts have diverse ways of delivering learning to their students. Priorities can even vary among schools within one district and among grade levels. The educational visioning process seeks to identify pedagogical priorities and develop goals for the new spaces around them.

Returning to the example of JC McKenna Middle School, the school placed an emphasis on special education representation. School leadership prioritized access and amenities for this population of students.

Through the educational visioning process, the design team, teachers, and community members developed a concept that thoughtfully integrated special education spaces throughout the academic neighborhoods. There would not be a special education wing. Instead, the whole school would be special education space.

This required the design team to balance transparency and privacy of special education spaces. The solution was to have private special education spaces for programs such as life skills, occupational and physical therapy, sensory rooms, and speech pathology. These areas are paired with “flex rooms” that use sliding glass doors to connect to spaces used by all students.

By understanding what the school values early in the visioning process, the team can develop solutions that work from individual students to school communities, and from individual rooms to entire buildings.

Bray Tip: A Non-linear Process

Successful educational visioning creates spaces that uniquely fit the communities where they’re located. It’s important to remember that this process is rarely linear, and that’s a good thing!

The process happens through many conversations between the district decision makers, the architectural design team, and the community. Each piece of educational visioning – architecture, identity, pedagogy – requires a lot of back-and-forth among these stakeholders.

The more communication there is, the more options there are to explore. The more options that the team can explore, the more likely the new building will serve the needs of all its users.

Image above: The entrance to the Friendship Learning Center‘s library features built-in shelving that spells “Story Land,” providing quiet reading nooks for students.

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