5 Features of an Innovative Classroom

According to the Teachers that Strive to Create Them

We recently held a Twitter chat on classroom environments that foster creativity, innovation, and positive learning experiences. From #ClassroomChat, featuring panelists Brittany Murro, Dean Deaver, and Bethany Petty, we learned about the strategies that teachers are using to transform their classrooms, and the elements of change that they believe are most important to empower their learners. While the stories they told and advice they shared spanned a wide range of topics and can’t all be summarized here, we spotted a few trends among their answers to the chat questions, and have gathered the most frequently mentioned topics here.

Based on the conversation from #ClassroomChat, an innovative classroom should be:

#1: Supportive and Comforting

Above all, our chatters emphasize the importance of creating a classroom environment that makes students feel safe, supported, and less stressed. Chatters pointed out that small changes — like lighting, flexible seating, and music — can have an impact on a student’s stress levels in the classroom, and help them to be more efficient and creative in their work. It all comes back to social and emotional learning, and the many efforts educators are undertaking to support students’ well-being and development. For more on supportive classrooms and SEL, see:

#2: Creative & Flexible

Chatters also emphasized the importance of creating spaces that allow for creativity, innovation, and more flexible, student-led learning experiences. Having tools and technology available to students is particularly important, and many schools are using makerspaces to carve out the time and space for students to freely make use of those tools. In the chat, teachers mentioned the importance of integrating technology into learning in a natural way, and giving students time to work through their design and problem-solving skills. For more on makerspaces and creative classrooms — including a blog from iSTEM teacher and chatter Brittany Murro — see below:

#3: Accessible

In the chat, we frequently revisited the idea of accessibility, particularly through a lens of the needs of students with dis/abilities. In addition to ensuring that the classroom environments they create are supportive, innovative, and digital, teachers also are concerned with how students with varying abilities might interact with the resources and opportunities available in a space. Teachers cite empathy as key to understanding student needs, and recognize the importance of praise and growth monitoring to encourage and empower all learners. For more on supporting students with dis/abilities, see:

#4: Student-Centered

Student-centered learning was a reoccurring topic across questions in #ClassroomChat — chatters believe that learning should be student-led, that teachers can empower students by acting as facilitators, and that students should be given ample opportunity to teach each other. Student voice and choice are clearly hallmarks of innovative classrooms, and trusting relationships with teachers, purposefully integrated technology, and flexible environments all contribute to empowering student voice. For more on student-centered learning, see:

#5: Fearless

The final sentiment expressed by chatters that we want to highlight here really starts with the educator, and influences the students and environment. Creating an innovative environment requires risk-taking, and a willingness to fail. This can be especially challenging for educators, who have limited time with their students, are held to very high expectations, and expect a great deal from themselves. But by taking risks to empower students, teachers can both identify new strategies for creating strong classrooms, and model the innovative thinking that they hope to instill in their students. For more on paving your own path and taking risks as an educator, see:


Stay tuned for our next chat on March 13, around telling your district’s story and community engagement strategies with digital tools. Just follow @McGrawHillK12 and #ChatMHE to keep up with the details.