New Trends in Furniture and Equipment | Print |
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Recently, I attended the NSSEA School Equipment Show in Phoenix AZ. I have been going to this show for many years and have always been impressed with the enthusiasm of the attendees. There are manufacturers, dealers, purchasers, architects, Principals and school facilities people in attendance.  

This year, in addition to spending countless hours perusing the floor trying to find the furniture and equipment that matches what I know schools are looking for, I attended a number of workshops and I participated in a Focus Group session that was aimed at what NSSEA can do to attract more “specifiers” (the people who determine what goes into schools) to the show. Brilliant! 

I must say that I was very pleased with the subject matter and the quality of the sessions that I attended.  One workshop, “New Spaces from Old Places” was chock full of discussion around the trends in teaching and learning in today’s classrooms and with today’s students. With good representation from School Districts and the Supplier/Manufacturer communities, we talked about the traditional learning model (rows of desks) versus the more collaborative classrooms that emphasize flexibility, innovation, green solutions, mobility and social communication and learning.

One thing that was clear is the reality that teachers always “own” the challenges of making the classroom work regardless of the obstacles they face. They deal with issues such as no money, old facilities, non-functional and/or outdated furniture, space limitations, and no storage, yet they make it work. Although this is incredibly commendable, we should be working even harder to give them what they need to meet today’s teaching and learning needs. 

In my work, I have always tried to make an impact as deep into the supply chain as possible by influencing manufacturers with my knowledge of what teachers and students are looking for. In my opinion, this is the key to product success in schools and ultimately the classroom. I believe that the cross-section of delegates  in the workshops that I attended was very healthy and was a good example of the supplier community working with the purchasing and specifying community, thus effectively creating understanding of needs, processes and products. I believe that this work will lead to an increase of more functional and ultimately affordable school furniture and equipment as we move forward. 

With this in mind, and with the re-design and membership based “new look” of the Classroom Solution website (currently under construction) I am adding a furniture Shopping Cart section to the site that will be reflective of the Solution resource lists that I already have available and will continually evolve as new and innovative products are developed by the manufacturers. The Classroom Solution customers will be able to order functional and modern resources online and they will be shipped anywhere in the lower 48 states of the U.S. and in Canada. Stay tuned for this new development. 

From a teacher’s perspective and with a procurement brain, I will focus on classroom solutions that address visibility, mobility, learning centres/stations, ever-greening, budgets, time, space issues and functionality to ensure that The Classroom Solution meets my customer’s needs.

It has always been the teachers who provide me with the input. I will continue to take this knowledge to the supplier community and do my best to influence the design, cost and availability of the products that are developed in the future.

James Dobbin is President of The Classroom Solution, Inc. As a Certified Public Purchasing Officer with 35 years in purchasing and supply, the most recent 23 years in the K-12 environment, James brings a wealth of knowledge to schools and teachers needing assistance in making school purchasing decisions. Understanding that teachers spend a considerable amount of their own time and money buying resources for their classrooms, James created with the desire to reach out to and help as many teachers as possible to find simple and cost effective buying solutions to help enhance the learning experience in their classrooms.


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