"Open Pod" classrooms

I was wondering if any other of you guys were familiar with this school building setup.
For those who aren’t; in lieu of the classic individual classroom setup in a school building that is still being used today, there is a large room that houses four to six classes, with simple dividers made of shelves or cubbies. In most cases, there are no doors you have to enter (only for going in or out of the pod), no walls to divide the rooms, and the classroom may not be near windows. I have yet to see a high school set up like this; this is usually only used for elementary and middle schools.

This was an experiment that began some time in the 1960s. Three elementary schools built in Brockton in the early 1970s were set up this way; I went to two of them. The one I went to for grades 1-6 (built in 1971) was originally built as a grade 1-6 school, with six pods containing four classrooms each, and a somewhat open area in the center for pod activites (starting in the later 1990s, computer labs began to be installed in those pod activity areas.) Four of the six pods (the ones that were meant for graded 3 to 6) also had one enclosed/walled classroom separate from the three. There were also six individual classrooms built; four on the ground floor near the art classroom (for a while one was used for health class until 1998, and the others mostly for special ed. classes), and three near the main entrance. After my brother and I stopped going to this school, they added kindergarten, but initially had their kindergarten classes in the modular. A couple years ago when sixth grade was dropped (moved to the middle schools), the old second grade pod became the new kindergarten pod, and the sixth grade pod became the new second grade pod.

The other one I went to (built in 1974) originally started out as a K-6 school, with seven pods containing four to six classrooms each. Each pod also had at least one classroom that was “enclosed” instead of open-area, along with teachers’ offices and direct exits to outside for emergency use. When the school was built, Pod 1 was designed a little differently from the others and meant for kindergarten, while the other pods would house a single grade. Pod 1 even had its own restrooms built in, and the two enclosed classrooms in that pod also had their own restrooms! But as time went on, pods began to house mixed grades (I recall in 2000, Pod 1 then housed two kindergarten classes, three first-grade classes and one second-grade class.) In 2006, it became a K-8 school. Pod 1 was then for the sixth, seventh and eighth grades after that, and the modular building added in 1996 housed additional middle school-level classes.
This is the classroom I had kindergarten in, located in Pod 1.

Lockers were also installed in the center of Pod 1 after it became a K-8 school:

As you can see, for some reason they were keen on putting in only one or two hard-wired clocks and intercom speaker/phones in each pod. Talk about inconvenience! (Many classrooms would often have their own battery-operated clocks installed.) At the previous school, every classroom in the pod had its own clock and intercom.

These pods were marked by painting a large number next to the pod doors:

The reason why I started this thread was because currently this school is doing away with the open-pod setup.

Several of the pods now have these walls built up. Doors will also be installed, and you can see where electrical outlets will be placed, too. Above the walls there is still a bit of open area, presumably so the classrooms could still hear any intercom announcements, the school bell and the fire alarm easily (the pods have one to two bells and alarms installed inside them.)

All the pods have at least one of these, too. I wonder what they were meant for, judging by the “Teacher Preparation” sign on the door.

Of course, the school was also initially built with six individual classrooms, marked by letter (this was classroom “D,” and was located near the little theater/storytelling area in the media center. Back in 1974, these were meant for special education, but are now basically used as “regular” classrooms to accommodate the larger amount of students they’ve had over the years.

To be honest, I do prefer the classic “individual classroom” style better, even if I didn’t start experiencing it myself until middle school. While the open pod setup was an interesting idea, I am kinda glad this school is switching to individual classrooms. This way they can also easily be numbered in the “regular” classroom numbering style for when they are written on students’ schedules!

Any comments?

A nearby elementary school (which was built in the 1970’s) has a variation of the pod design, with 3/4 walls being enclosed, and 1 wall open into the library or something like that, in a certain part of the the school.

I’m not a big fan of pod design, personally, mainly because it seems like there would be a lot of excess noise in classrooms.

The new ES here in town was built somewhat in this fashion. You’d have your standard school hallway in the center. You’d then go through a door that brings you into a “pod” for a certain grade, however, within the pods are regular walled off classrooms. Unfortunately, I never got to see these for myself, as I’ve only been to the new ES once, and I only went so far as the main office. It’s a VERY secure facility now, unlike its predecessor.

My middle school had a design like that (except only in the 6th grade wing that was added on), and I know of at least one elementary school that is like that. Except in my middle school, the classrooms (except for the science room) didn’t have doors - just openings in the wall that are a little wider than a door.

“Teacher Preparation” is a cover-up for the small taverns they hide inside schools where teachers can have a few drink between classes and toss darts at pictures of students they hate. :lol: I know someone who was trying to pass off one of the teacher’s lounges at the middle school as that (joking of course) since the windows are covered with paper and you can’t see in there even when the door is open… but he was highly unsuccessful.

“Teacher Preparation” is where the photocopiers, letter punch, laminator, and supplies for the teachers are stored.

As for open-concept schools near me, there is an elementary school that opened in the late 1970s with six pods. FIve of them are all inside a large room with the school library in the center, while the sixth is in its own room (kindergarden). There are also six amphitheaters / lecture hall rooms located on the corners of each pod. The school is closed right now because a roof support beam cracked and the town has no money to fix it (having just spent several million on a brand new school) and I believe they might be planning to add walls.

There’s also a high school in Topsham which opened in the early 1970s. I’ve never been inside it, so I don’t know much about its interior. I will say it’s #7 on the list of Maine high schools that will receive state funding for the construction of a replacement school. (For the record, the #1 school is a high school in Biddeford that is very run-down from poor maintenance… leaky roofs, peeling walls, creaky stairs, rickety elevator, ugly appearance… the building might even become unsafe in the next few years)

A middle school in East Providence had a setup like this. There were yellow metal walls that separate the classrooms. There are four ‘houses’ - A,B,C, and D. They are mirrored in different areas. I have not been there in quite a while (my mom used to teach there) but I will try my best to draw a floorplan:

-4051 indicates existing alarm on a 4050-80.
-NS indicates fire alarm upgrade with a Wheelock NS.
-They had a black column on every wall with a white-on-black clock, PA speaker, modem commections, light switches and intercom.

The school was built in 1977.

That’s what they are now doing with the K-8 school I pictured. You would enter a “pod” that has the regular walled-off classrooms, except a pod here usually may have more than one grade in them (for example, two pods may have second grade classes mixed with first or third, one may be all fifth-grade, etc.)

Here’s a picture I made of one of the pods in the middle school mentioned above. It’s obviously a very bad picture. :slight_smile:

My elementary school had one pod, which was in the small primary wing. It looked like this:

The middle classroom was never really used, only the top and bottom classroom. Just last year, they had built a couple of walls which separate these 3 classrooms, so the pod is no longer. There is a number of schools in my city that have pod classrooms. I know of one school that has an open library, and there is pod classrooms, with 4 classes in each pod.


Why, is it because it looks like some kid’s handwriting or something…

It’s just…awful…Not necessarily because it looks like some kid’s handwriting, but more so because it was made specifically for kids who were learning to read, hence the juvenile/unprofessional look to it.

“Comic Sans sucks. Period.”

(Yes, this is entirely opinion, so in reality, if you like the font, you can use it if you want.)

Another update. They finished converting most of the pods for now, with the new school year. So far the school seems to prefer the individual classrooms better (I think I like it better too.) The pod I had kindergarten at (Pod 1) was not converted yet, and is also currently only used for seventh grade…

As it turns out, currently each “pod” holds one grade each. Pod 1 is for seventh graders. The classroom pods in the east wing near the media center hold the kindergarten to fifth grades. They aren’t exactly in order: first grade is located in Pod 5, they have fifth grade in Pod 2, etc. The sixth graders get the individual classrooms labeled by letter (when they have to switch classes at each bell, they made it easier by putting lockers in the hallways for them), and the eighth grade classes are in the modular building. All these pics are before construction was finished (I know the crew that was here.)

The teacher prep room for Pod 1. I find it strange how they went and put hard-wired clocks in each teacher prep room, but not in the classrooms themselves!

Another shot of my old kindergarten classroom. On the right you can see a Simplex duct detector test station (that was added AFTER I had kindergarten, obviously.)

Another shot of the lockers in Pod 1.

This pod has two classrooms that can be divided from the rest of the pod (they also have their own doors to the center of the pod.) Each of these two rooms had its own clock, AND a set of small restrooms! There are also a couple sets of single-person (boys and girls) restrooms at one end of the pod itself, but the other pods do not have their own restrooms.

The other classroom in the pod with an alarm and bell in it. Note that they put a battery-operated clock on the bell grille (the Simplex bell in the grille was muffled up with tape to reduce the volume.)

In corridors that are located between pods and individual classrooms, restrooms like these are set up.

But outside several of the pods, they had the restrooms set up like this:

Both genders share the sinks, but not the toilets (obviously!)

A temporary computer setup outside Pod 4.

This is in sixth grade classroom “C.”

A restroom door with the “GIRLS” sign painted over!

Not a pod, but this was formerly the school’s multi-purpose room. It is now used as a computer lab.

The kitchen from when it was a multi-purpose room is still intact. I can’t imagine what they currently use it for nowadays.

Another unusual thing I found: outside the west wing of the school, where the blacktop and the baseball field and abandoned tennis court is located, they used to have these small restrooms that students and faculty could enter from the outside! They would need a key to be accessed, obviously. I think both of the restrooms are now currently just being used for storage (the large “STORAGE” doors next to them would also take you right into the gym, and is often used as a fire exit.

These lockers are right outside sixth grade rooms “A” and “B.” Those rooms and this corridor is between Pods 3 and 4, and the doorway in the background goes to the media center.

Here are a couple of recently-finished classrooms. They look kind of like inside a modular classroom building due to the modular-construction walls and doors used!

This is in a first-grade classroom in Pod 5. New exit signs were also installed, but the existing LED exit signs were also left intact.

A classroom in Pod 4. That small hole next to the door is where a SpectrAlert Advance horn/strobe or remote strobe was installed (yes, they did install some new fire alarm devices in the new rooms, though most of the Simplex system is still intact!)

Classrooms with a direct exit outside had BG-12 pull stations installed (conventional, probably Fire-Lite or Notifier-branded.) This one had the pull installed after I took this pic. I just hope doing so doesn’t lead into any deliberate false alarms caused by delinquent kids (they do plan to eventually redo the entire fire alarm system either next summer or the year after, and they’ll probably install Stopper covers over the new pulls as a result.)

Outside the back of Pod 1. The gymnasium section can be seen in the background. I was told that “A B C” mural was part of a game played during recess or gym class (some variant of dodgeball?)

For anyone interested, here is a map on how the building was before the construction (I even showed locations of alarm devices for anyone curious!)

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Wow Martin Middle school I like the old system better. Well the new one is not bad it is just quiet vs the older one.

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