WoRM in Shared Space, Large Space, One-Room, Temporary Space, ...problems and common solutions.
The following is a summary of the collective wisdom of Rotation educators who have had to share their classroom/workshop rooms with a Preschool or similar "other" organization. Interestingly enough, the solutions to "shared" space are also similar to those with limited space, rented space, or who must put their Workshop in a big room..
From 2001-2010 the topic of "Shared Space" and "Big" or "Rented" space was an open forum here at Rotation.org. The questions and solutions started to repeat themselves, so we decided to end the discussion and turn it into this article. (If you want to add to this discussion, see the note below).
"Shared Space" has a history of being a source of problems in MANY Sunday Schools, Rotation or otherwise. Please read the post that comes AFTER this one for some perspective.
Ultimately, YOUR solution will probably be a combination and adaptation of the following ideas suited to your own particular spaces. Some workshops are easier to adapt into a shared space than others, and some preschool rooms are easier to adapt into certain types of workshop!
It should also be said that it is WIDELY believed among Rotation fans that CREATIVE LEARNING ENVIRONMENTS ARE NOT OPTIONAL in the Workshop Rotation Model. They are an important aspect of the children's perception, are an aid to learning, and are a SIGN to your parents and visitors that "this is not your grandfather's Sunday School."
There have been churches where Rotation has "failed", and one of the common issues in those failed WoRMS is the lack of creative workshop environments, shared or otherwise. To put it another way: GO BIG OR GO HOME.
Personalities and territorial disputes aside, the problem of shared space seems to center on two issues: walls and furniture. Here is the collective Rotation wisdom on both.
Preschool rooms have all sorts of cute preschool-ish decor, bookshelves, artwork and buletin boards that older kids don't want to see, and don't HAVE to see.
The Rotation solution is to Creatively Cover Your Walls.
Create muraled dropcloths, painted tyvek wrap, and colorful bolts of fabric, and attach them to rods/pvc. The pvc is a great way to store the cloth/murals, and it keeps your walls from sagging too much. These 'fabric' walls can be either draped down from hooks on the wall, or stretched across preschool cabinets, etc, to temporarily hide such from your students. It can look awful if you don't think artistically, and if you poorly and hastily drape their stuff. The key is to do it well, and attach hardware where appropriate so that your "walls" can be quickly erected and look good.
Construct a "room within a room", such as a tent, in the middle of the shared space which can easily be assembled or raised.
This could literally be a large poled tent that teachers and students can stand and move around inside. Or, it could be a tent that can be quickly hooked to hardware on the ceiling and into the corners.
Put your supplies on rolling baker's shelving/carts. Cover these with cloth when not in use. These heavy-duty carts can also form an anchor point for some wall-hiding fabric.
For certain workshops, bring in a rug and pillows.
Having to transform several preschool rooms into rooms for various ages of Sunday School kids is a challenge. Preschool rooms have short furniture, ...and some of it will have to be moved.
Rotation churches sharing their space with preschools have had to establish policies of "who moves what". Especially if they "rent" your space, and the teachers are being paid, it is not unreasonable to require them to MOVE some of their furniture and materials on Friday. Doing so will not only help your volunteer teachers prepare on Sunday, it will encourage the Preschool teachers to think twice about how they arrange their space, -as it may or may not cause them extra work on Friday.
1. Tell the Preschool that they must stack their chairs on Friday, so that they are out of the way. Tables are a lot easier to move when chairs aren't in the way.
2. Bring in a stack of Art Stools for the Art Workshop. Art Workshops in regular church setting have discovered that STOOLS are a great solution for the Art workshop for two reasons:
a) Stools can easily be shoved under the table for certain projects.
b) Stools are one-size fits all (though not for preschooler!)
A wheeled pallet makes moving stools and chairs easy.
3. For a Video Workshop in shared space, create a "room within a room" (see ideas above), and drop in a rug and lots of pillows. Alternately, bring in "director's chairs" which are relatively light weight and can be folded and removed to storage during the week.
4. Drama Workshops as well can be done in "tents" or on a large rug so that chairs are a non-issue.
5. Invite your students to help transform the room, and put it back together for Monday.
6. Think about which church groups or workshops are assigned to certain rooms. A computer lab is often easier to flex into a preschool space than an art workshop because for art you need appropriate height tables, but for computers, you could purchase a couple of smaller rolling tables.
7. Add some new more flexible furniture in certain rooms. For example, in the workshop where you know you'll need "big kid" tables, purchase the newer style plastic lightweight rectangular folding tables or ROUND tables (which can easily be rolled out) in the preschool classroom during the week for quick access on Sunday. These can be stored behind cabinets so they don't present a falling danger, or creatively moored to the wall during the week for quick access on Sunday.
Make sure the preschool room you need to adapt for older kids has STACKABLE chairs. Many churches are stuck with the old wooden ones. Newer colorful chairs can more easily be stacked and moved. Folding "directors" chairs are fun, lightweight, and can be folded and safely stored on hooks in a corner of the classroom, or on a chair cart.
Alternative Spaces for Workshops
The Cooking Workshop is often moved to the church kitchen.
The Computer Lab can be in the church library or church office. Some churches have even put their computer labs in the hallway, because the kids don't pay attention to the room, just the screens!
Video is sometimes moved to an "all classes" location, rather than a dedicated workshop.
Drama can take place in the Sanctuary if it isn't being used, or a chapel, or stage area.
Each of those spaces can be transformed by many of the shared space solutions mentioned above.
One church asked their adult ed classes to use the preschool rooms, because all the adults needed to do was bring in a circle of chairs and a coffee pot.
If you have a new and different solution to share, please add it here.
If you have a question, please post it in the Supporting Members Lounge "Help!" forum.
Please do not post questions here.