Blog Task 2: Observation – The Staffroom Collision

The area selected is my school staffroom, a place where it is getting harder and harder to move around in.
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The Staffroom (Sketch by J. du Toit, 2015)
My observations took place during the morning rush around break time, as staff eat lunches and have coffee. Observations included seeing how people interacted with the kitchen area and the seating area (more here: I watched as staff tried to get to the microwaves first, then dodging one another as they try and get coffee made. At the same time staff trying to get their lunches out the fridge, find elusive spoons/forks, and trying to get to a seat as quickly as possible. The seating is very close to one another, makes it difficult to move between. The middles school staff come through, walking a maze to get to their staffroom (This was a new area added this year, the outside area was converted.). Many tables remain empty, and one table very loud (junior school, great conversations taking place).
One of the issues that I’m noticing is that it was redesigned in a similar way as the previous staffroom; (before the move to the new building space and growth in staff numbers). This is an issue that John Hockenberry (2012) mentions in his TED Talk – ‘we cannot keep designing like we did in the past’.  The space needs adjustment, including considering new and creative ideas to better meet the needs of teachers and learners (Brown, 2008).
Time to initiate change…

3 thoughts on “Blog Task 2: Observation – The Staffroom Collision

  1. The blog reminds me of an article I read online somewhere…A teacher’s “must have” supernatural abilities: a bladder that can hold on infinitely, a stomach that can stay empty for a whole day and a mouth that can chew off all meals within 3 minutes while talking to a kid…
    Lunch time in a school staff room is always a battlefield – teachers have to get their lunches out, heat them up and eat them quickly as they might have a lunch time duty. I sometimes wish there were a wall stack of microwaves so that we don’t have to wait for 10 minutes just to microwave our food for 2 minutes. Chances are before it’s our turn, we are late for duty. Maybe we can install microwaves at duty site? Maybe we can really install the wall stack of microwaves? Time for a brainstorm for teachers and experts (work place safety people and electricians).

  2. Hi Jaques,

    It’s interesting how staff room are often kept so formal and that it is unusual for it to be ‘ok’ for staff to move furniture around to make the space their own. There is so much that we say we should do for our students in terms of learning spaces – e.g., changing things up, creating informal spaces etc – that we don’t really apply to the staff spaces. Here is an article by Peter Jamieson on informal learning spaces is a good one and discusses aspects of design which are just as applicable to staff areas as they are to student ones.

  3. Hello Jaques
    I also, observed my staff room with a particular focus on traffic flow before school starts. However, break times can be congested as well. I have been since “asking some “How might we?” questions. (, Stanford University , 2015) Eg HMW question an assumption? HMW change the status quo? I have been thinking that a re-arrangement of drawers (putting coffee cups on the other side) could actually cut down a step in the zig zagging. Another one was having milk left out during peak traffic. Many times throughout the day I am struggling to find a spoon or a fork. It may be time for a replenishment, but perhaps we can also have spoons in a pot on the bench or even a shared spoons left somewhere, one for coffee and one for tea. It wont look great but it will be practical and can be taken away by whoever is on dishwasher duty. Another helpful question could be: HMW create an analogy from need? Could the kitchen area be more like an assembly line. ie traffic is directed one way, people are allocated specific tasks. Could some of these questions apply to your space?

    My blog, Stanford University, 2015. How might we?… Method Card. Retrieved from

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