A “Starbucks” classroom…


We started with an inquiry question… “why aren’t Starbuck’s Coffee houses drive through only?”

We discussed this question for quite some time… here’s what we came up with:

They wouldn’t sell as much coffee (to which we asked why, and the answer was “people like hanging out at Starbucks”)

They like hanging out at Starbuck’s for a number of reasons:

The smell
The coffee
The treats
The books (if the store is inside a chapters book store, which they often are in Canada…)
The leather couches
The fireplace on a cold winter day
The free wifi
The ambiance (we looked that one up…)
The public art (done by local artists)
The comradeship; hanging out with friends
The patio (on warm summer days)
The friendliness of the baristas (we looked that one up too)
The background sounds (music, chatter about interesting topics)
The “coolness” of it all… the environment as described by the above reasons. We felt it was a laid back, relaxed and enjoyable place to be

We even figured out that every time you turn around in a Starbuck’s coffee shop, you run into something (and further realized that what you run into is usually for sale:). We realized that cramped spaces don’t have to be cramped in a bad way if they’re set up right, and if the folks within the spaces get along OK. So we came up with this model of learning and living, and put a giant version of it on our wall.

Hope WheelWe reference the Hope Wheel often. We use it to contextualize our learning, to solve problems, resolve conflicts, set goals and teach others (that’s the “Elder” part of what we do in the Responsibility phase of the north.) It has become the social, emotional and intellectual platform that our physical learning space is supported by. It’s the model we use to think about things. You can learn more about this learning model here.

So we took a look at our classroom and decided that we could create this type of environment to learn in, sans the coffee perhaps:)

We decided that couches, books, free wifi, public art (done by students), comradeship, friendliness and the “coolness” of it all would be easy to emulate.

We got rid of the desks and put tables in their place. We found a couch and a coffee table. We hung (and continue to hang) art created by students. We put some mats on the floor. We created a private corner office that we take turns using each day. We already had free wifi. We created some cool lighting effects with a couple of lamps. Recently we even took a donation of a free electric fireplace! How cool is that?

So now we learn in a “Starbuck`s classroom,” and we really like it.

About graingered

I'm a teacher, coach, mentor, mental health advocate, and writer in Alberta, Canada.
This entry was posted in Inquiry and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

9 Responses to A “Starbucks” classroom…

  1. Dana says:

    Can I see a photo of this classroom, I am very curious!


  2. graingered says:

    I will take some:)


  3. johnbarell says:

    Thanks for this inspirational post. Reminds me of what we used to call “the invitational environment,” and how the physical setting is so important for learning. You and students have established a wonderful environment for learning and living. Would love to learn more about how your Hope model works with personal situations and to enhance learning in the classroom.


  4. Jen Bearden says:

    This is TOTALLY the feeling my hubby, who is currently teaching 5th grade, creates in his classroom–coffee theme and everything! I try to emulate the feeling, although, the couches, chairs and lamps have recently been “nixed” in my district. He gets comments often from both students and parents about how much they love the feel of his room; it’s definitely outside the norm where he teaches, and gets noticed. 🙂


  5. Kim says:

    Any pics?


    • I have some on a card somewhere:) Truth is we’re moving to a different room that’s bigger with more windows and east facing exterior wall looking out over our green space. My teaching partner and I are talking about how we’d like it to evolve this September, but of course we’ll have to wait for the kids to show up as their input is most important. For now the room is a relatively blank slate, but we will publish Starbuck’s 2 this fall (with pics:) once we’re on our way. If I can find the old classroom pics, I will post them. Thanks!


  6. Ellen Vanderkolk says:

    Thank you for the inspiration! Am in the process of finding some well-loved but gently used couches, and desperately de-cluttering the rest of the classroom. Can’t wait to see pictures!


  7. Pingback: My Life Without A Desk | Ramblings of a Lifelong Learner

  8. Hey there, I found your blog very informative and helpful. I’ve read almost all your blog posts and would really love to read more of it. I request you to please start your blog once again. I suggest you also syndicate your blog on popular sites like http://ManagementParadise.com where you will find millions of like minded people as a ready audience. Keep Blogging. Cheers!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s