How effective is your school's "Third Teacher"?

One of the most important moments in my professional career happened five years ago. My friend and fellow educator Basil Kolani recommended The Third Teacher (2010), a book that taught me that every learner has 3 teachers--the adult instructor; the learner's peers; and the physical environment.

This principle--space as the third teacher--accelerated learning innovations during my time at Malvern Prep.

Because visible thinking fosters social learning (aka "the second teacher"), we put white board paint on walls and desktops.

Because creative problem solving thrives in porous and interconnected spaces, we repurposed certain high traffic areas for learning, taking advantage of glass and open sight lines.

And because one learner might work best in a stationary chair, while another might benefit from a rocking stool, and yet another might focus optimally while standing, we invested in flexible furniture.

The Third Teacher led us to Trung Le, pictured above and who appears several times in this new video from WONDER by Design's 180° Project. Le and his partners Christian Long and Sam Chaltain have taught me more about great learning design than just about anyone else I can think of.

Think about what great learning looks like for your school. Think about the ideal learner you aspire to form.

What if your school's physical design--your third teacher--could create the conditions for every learner to thrive?

p.s.: If you haven't see the previous videos from WONDER's 180° Project, start with "The Bell Curve is Nonsense." The implications for education are extraordinary.


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