Bethel School District Eugene OR

Special Services

Implementing a Think Space

An example of a newly created think space in one of our Bethel schools.

As we move to providing more support for our students in the area of Social Emotional Learning, we are seeing more teachers implementing a range of supports in their classrooms. One of those supports is the creation of a space for students within the classroom, sometimes called a Think Space, Comfort Corner, or Break Space. These nooks are stocked with a variety of tools that help students take a little time to self-regulate, then get right back to learning.

It is important to teach students the purpose of the space and how to use it. The most important learning target of this teaching is for students to begin to identify what they need to support their own learning. They become adept at identifying when their brains might need a break or other supports, and that those breaks and supports actually allow them to be better learners. The outcome is better self-regulation throughout the school day.

Think Spaces or Comfort Corners require classroom procedures to support their use.Teachers typically teach their students a signal or some other system for when students are requesting a break. There is typically a time limit, though many teachers are flexible for students who may need a little more time than others. These spaces should not be used once students are already escalated; rather, they should function as a prevention tool throughout the school day.

Many students benefit from sensory and calming tools in Think Spaces.

The use of these spaces is an opportunity for teachers to help students understand that everybody learns differently and may have different learning needs. Some students may need to access this space more often and others may never need it. These kinds of conversations help all students recognize what their needs are and how to support their peers in meeting their needs, too.

For a look at how one general education teacher in Bethel used a break space, click here.

We’d love to hear about your Comfort Corner, Think Space, or Break Space successes. Please comment below. You may be the lucky recipient of something to help get your Think Space started!

14 Responses to Implementing a Think Space

  • I am still looking at methods for providing a think space in my speech-language room (where space is limited) and how to best use it during sessions that are only 20 minutes long. I’d love to collaborate with our other SLPs to come up with ideas.

  • I have two break spots in my classroom. Students have been taught the routines and are all being provided an opportunity to use it, even if they don’t need to, as practice. We are currently in the phase of learning how and when to use it.

  • I have a break area in my room, but I think I need a large box to make it cozy 🙂 Have seen some great areas in some of the classrooms at Malabon already!!

  • I love the idea of each classroom having a Think Space or Break Space for students! What a wonderful way to support all students in their social emotional development. While I have a variety of Think Space tools, I do not have a designated space in my new classroom. This is a great reminder for me to work on creating a designated space and teaching my students how to use a Think Space. Thank you for the reminder and ideas!

  • Break spaces at Kalapuya are a little more challenging as we are such an open environment, but I have an awesome comfy chair near my desk and a basket of calming tools to choose from. Ashley’s video has given me a few more ideas for my basket. Brain breaks for all to refocus is an amazing idea to generalize such an important tool. Thanks Ashley!

  • It’s great to see recognition of the importance of a cozy, welcoming, nurturing space for all students! What a wonderful thing to include in classrooms – as an educator and a parent, I appreciate this example of how much Bethel staff members care for their kids!

  • At Danebo, in our LS classroom, we have a sensory area, where students can go and calm down if they are getting stressed, we also have a ball room, where students can work to get excess energy out so they will be ready to learn. It’s so important for ALL students to have a safe space to go if they need it!

  • This is something that I think should be supplied to all of our teachers (or at least the materials to make their own). I know our cougar pride room and Mr. G’s room are great spaces but sometimes they aren’t private enough. Everyone needs a break from time to time.

  • I am working on getting some furniture donated for creating a more comfy room for my kiddos. I unfortunately have no real windows in my space so I have been using white Christmas lights and lamps to make a more relaxing classroom environment.

  • My whole office is a break space at the high school. Quiet, comfortable sofa, and low lighting make it ideal for many students to use their calming/problem-solving strategies.

  • I’ve thought about this a lot in my classroom as I have a bit of an alcove area. However, I always worry that students will take advantage of such a space in order to avoid doing work. Clear expectations from the beginning are definitely a must!

  • I have two break spaces in my middle school classroom, and students can self-select to use these spaces (or some may be asked to take a directed break in one of these spaces).
    Last year, I experimented with many different tools such as balance boards, wiggle cushions, balance balls, and standing tables to help students with self-regulation. Unfortunately, many of these items seemed to be more of a distraction rather than a resource for my middle school students. This year, I have narrowed the number of tools I am introducing to students so I can see who truly needs them and make sure they are being used appropriately. 🙂

  • I love the idea of calling it a ‘think space’ as sometimes ‘break’ can be aversive to students. My classroom has had success with a small tent. It’s been a great way for students to reducing sensory stimulation in a contained area. The students have been very respectful of the space.

  • At Meadow View nearly every single elementary classroom has some version of a break space. What has been great to see is the wide range of students utilizing the space and teachers supporting brain breaks for our students.

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