Selecting school furniture for today’s evolving learning environments is not for the faint of heart. Are you at the point where you know how important transforming learning is to support student success? If so, then you know you need to design a learning space to match. But, where do you start?
What if we approached purchasing school furniture like buying any other large purchase? For example, a new car? As you start the buying process, you research, compare options, test drive different makes and models, evaluate service options, and look at the benefits of buying online or from a local dealer. This process helps you make a final choice based on a “value formula” you create that's contingent on your needs.
Let’s apply this same approach to school furniture and explore ideas to help you establish your value formula for procuring the right school furniture to enhance student success.
4 Helpful Tips for Purchasing School Furniture that Transforms Learning
Tip #1: Take a Test Drive
You and your team have worked hard to connect the dots between the teaching, learning, and the physical learning environments you want to create. Now, it’s time to put everything you’ve learned into play. What better way to determine if the school furniture you want to buy will meet your expectations than trying it out?
Pilot classrooms are important, and it doesn’t hurt to ask your vendors (furniture dealer or furniture manufacturers) if they offer a pilot classroom program. Let the teachers and students kick the tires and collect data through observations, surveys, and interviews.
A pilot classroom experience using diverse school furniture will quickly inform you on:
- Which furniture products will enhance the teaching and learning in your school.
- What pieces of school furniture eliminate barriers in each of your learning environments.
- If the school furniture is flexible, mobile, and adaptable for the different learning spaces you want to create.
- If the school furniture supports the use of technology in the classroom.
Invite your community (parents, businesses, and school board members) to experience how the school furniture can support the vision of the district. This will also help you gain support and understanding on the importance of transforming the learning environment in order to transform learning.
Related Article: Connecting the Dots Between Student Success & Learning Spaces
Tip #2: Prevent Buyer’s Remorse
Research the manufacturers that you are interested in purchasing from. Websites will have warranties, certifications, and furniture testing protocols. Your furniture dealer or manufacturer representative can also explain the process for replacements and repairs if a product is damaged in shipment or failed. The service you expect may be dependent upon whether you are working with a local furniture dealer or going straight through the manufacturer.
Pay attention to where the product is made. Is it important to your community to “Buy American?” If so, find out if the school furniture you are considering is made in the United States, is USA assembled or is USA warehoused. Where your school furniture is manufactured can also impact your lead times, replacement parts, and freight/shipping costs!
Tip #3: Know What You're Buying
Are the products you’re considering purchasing made to withstand the unique needs of today’s learning environments? Or, were they built for offices? Let’s face it, kids are tough on furniture and learning environments have unique challenges.
Things to consider:
- Is the product design focused on active classroom environments or all-day sitting and/or meetings?
- Does the furniture meet your expectations for durability, maintenance, and long-term use?
- How long has the furniture manufacturer been around? It’s important to all of us when making a big purchase that we can count on that company’s experience and stability. Most schools want their classroom furniture to be around for years (if not decades). Will your suppliers be there when you need them?
Tip #4: Know Your Price Point
As good stewards of taxpayer money, it’s important to evaluate your school furniture budget. Just like in buying a car, “value” is based on more than just cost. Make sure you invest in what matters. Ask about ways to save in one area so that you can invest in others. Challenge your vendors to show you different options to meet the needs of your diverse learning programs.
Remember these two truths when purchasing anything:
- High price doesn’t always equal “best”
- Value doesn’t always mean “lowest price”
Related Article: Transform the Learning Environment, Transform Learning!
Defining Your Value Formula for Classroom Furniture
When transforming learning at your school, it’s important you consider these two questions:
- What is your value formula for classroom furniture?
- What is important to you and your team?
To make things easier, use this helpful value formula that you can customize to your school’s needs.
Value = Student Success
Quality = Know what you are buying
Service = Prevent buyer’s remorse
Cost = Know your price point
Transforming Learning by Purchasing the Right School Furniture
Transforming learning by transforming the learning environment will be challenging and you should know you don’t have to do it alone. At Artcobell, we provide schools with many services, from design to post-occupancy professional learning, and everything in between. We are here to support you on your journey to transform learning!
Need to get started? Our Director of Learning Environments at Artcobell is ready to help! Learn more when you request an appointment.