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ACEF Journal Vol 3 Issue 1 December 2012

Luana J. Zellner The ACEF Journal Jill Morris Vol. 3, No. 1, 2012, pp. 39-56 A. Lee Burch The Impact of Brain Compatible Learning (BCL) Philosophy in 3 Elementary Schools: What Mattered Most? View PDF Abstract Over two decades of research has consistently confirmed that the physical environment impacts the learning environment and student achievement, but what is it that makes one learning environment more engaging than another? This paper will provide additional insight on the impact incorporation of a Brain Compatible Learning (BCL) philosophy in 3 elementary schools with similar demographics affected student engagement in learning, school climate, teacher retention, and community satisfaction. “Wow! What a beautiful school! It’s like a dream come true! Light and bright! I bet the kids just love coming here!” Parent comment to a teacher at Have-It-All Elementary School The first thing one might notice when walking into a school is how friendly and warm the reception area is to visitors, all visitors. The architecture may be stunning, light and bright, the colors warm, the furnishings inviting, the ambiance appealing, but is the place welcoming like a great restaurant? Instead of great food, does the entry say, we like you! We really like you! Come join us! A second thing one might note when strolling down the hallways is whether or not the facility supports and invites learning. However, most importantly is the third question one might ask and that is, what effect, if any, does this environment have on student and teacher engagement and achievement? The following is a reflection contributed by the first author, “What I remember most about a place called school is how comfortable my favorite teachers were in it. When they were happy within their teaching space, the rest of us students were happy in our learning spaces. It didn’t matter to me that my school was built during the depression with a floor plan stamped from a factory style template. The richly carved banisters, the smell of freshly polished wood stairs and paneling, as well as the glorious smell of fresh baked bread floating from the school basement cafeteria were what I remember most. Every classroom had large narrow paned windows that could be opened to let fall or spring breezes float through the classroom. The schools I loved best reflected the culture of the community that I either wanted to be a part of or was a part of. The safe home-like atmosphere many of us remember about a place called school is a memorable experience today’s teachers and school leaders alike would probably like to re- capture.” As we speed through the decades - - - 50 years later, one would think that after years of researching facility designs and construction, we now have the list of what a great school facility should include in order to impact teacher instruction and student learning. Obviously the same questions school boards and communities asked in the 20th century are the same questions we are asking in the 21st: (1) Will this facility actually enhance instruction and engage learning?, (2) Is there a focus on a particular philosophy or learning theory in the design?, and (3) Does the facility design adequately mirror the philosophy or learning theory? These three questions are most important, but often over shadowed by facility cost and completion time. More importantly concern should be focused on whether or not sticking to a particular learning theory in designing 39


ACEF Journal Vol 3 Issue 1 December 2012
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