Let’s go somewhere
The fifth in our series on key learning zones is a space where no formal learning takes place, but it still plays an important role in student success.
INTRODUCING THE TALK ZONE…
The growing focus on protecting and promoting good mental health is leading schools, colleges and universities to create designated support spaces that sit apart from teaching and learning. A Talk Zone is designed to facilitate open, private conversations in a comfortable environment away from the madding crowd, set apart from the hierarchical formality of an office or the visibility of a classroom.
It’s good to talk
Having somewhere students can go when it all gets too much, and knowing that support is available when they need it, is crucial to wellbeing, particularly in secondary education, FE and HE. Educators are often on the front line in supporting students with mental health issues and creating a safe space where students can access help is becoming increasingly important.
Creating a private space which is visually, acoustically and aesthetically separate from other areas means you can hold important conversations uninterrupted and in comfort. Having a space that is clearly dedicated to wellbeing is also a physical demonstration of the importance of student welfare; it sends a clear signal that your learning community cares.
The Talk Zone
Some schools and colleges have pastoral care teams, others run student wellbeing or support centres, but all aim to offer a broad range of support to struggling students. Whether someone is experiencing emotional difficulties or mental health issues ,or a gifted student is looking for additional help to stretch and challenge themselves, it helps to have a dedicated, comfortable space for important or difficult conversations.
Often located near the entrance of the school or college, Talk Zones can also be used for meetings with parents or with members of the community. CurvPress® pods with upholstered seating and acoustic properties mean you can create an instant Talk Zone without losing a room. If you have the space for a more comprehensive solution (we recently converted an old caretaker’s bungalow into a standalone student support centre) then using soft seating and creating a café style area creates a space with a completely different feel from everywhere else, priming students to feel more relaxed and open. People are more likely to want to access student support if it’s based in an attractive space; good aesthetics can help dispel the stigma of asking for help.
Why it works: the neuroscience bit
One of the greatest barriers to fast recall of information is negative emotional experiences. Providing a dedicated space to talk provides a safe environment in which to talk to students away from the class, helping improve their emotional wellbeing and removing barriers to learning.
If you’d like help designing a Talk Zone for your classroom, we’d be delighted to help!