I’m in quite a privileged position this year, working in a lovely new modern learning environment and with 2 other talented, passionate teachers.
I have spent Term 1 settling in, getting to know how the school works and getting to know my new colleagues. It was a full on term, as you can tell from my lack of posts lately!
I have been thinking quite a lot about how ‘edgy’ our practice actually is. I expected a HUGE shift in my practice when entering a modern learning environment. I had no idea what it would look like and be like to work so closely with 2 other teachers and 60 odd students in one big space. As it turned out though, things weren’t so different after all. We retained some pretty traditional practices and I began to worry that we were not making the most of the environment we had. We were teaching as 3 different teachers, in 3 different classes that just didn’t have walls in between. In effect we were doing lots of cross grouping.
It was great to have the holidays to have a bit of a think about what I thought was missing or could be improved. It also helped to have the input of ideas from Hobsonville Point Secondary School who are doing such exciting things.
So, in the second week of the holidays I posed the following questions to the other teachers in the hub:
- How edgy are we actually being?
- How are we utilising the space effectively?
- How are we making the most of having 3 teachers and 1 teacher aide in the hub?
- How are we integrating curriculum areas in a really real way?
- How are we ensuring our students have real choice and voice?
- Why are we all doing literacy and numeracy at the same time? Why do we only ‘do’ inquiry two afternoons per week?
- How are we ensuring teachers’ passions and talents are utilised, and students can benefit from these?
- Are we personalising or differentiating learning?
As you can tell, we had a BIG conversation!
What we ended up with is this:
- Kids will plan their own day, making decisions on when they are ready to do particular tasks.
- Teachers will teach their original reading groups, to retain continuity and allow for focused teaching at particular levels.
- Students will opt in to maths and writing workshops, based on strong self awareness (built up by clear success criteria; self, peer and teacher assessment).
- There will be one teacher or teacher aide who will assume a roving role. They will conference; assist kids who need help becoming more independent better at managing their time; and do some maths knowledge testing.
- We will have skills based workshops as well as workshops on inquiry and integrated subjects.
- We will have 6 teachers teaching 4 week long modules based on student interest and things the teachers are passionate and skilled in. Students will opt in to these.
- Children will also opt in to fitness/brain break sessions when they need to.
- We will plan with the children at the end of lessons (what will the learning intention be for the following lesson?) and at the end of the week (what other workshops would you like?)
We have trialed this for 3 days now and it is going really well. After day 1, we asked the kids, what went well?
- Less boring
- Likes choosing – not having the teacher telling you what to do all the time.
- Could choose new games
- Choosing tasks at the right level
- Liked making a diary
- Being able to spend time on the things we like
- Mix of tasks we need to do and fun things
The students have impressed me so much – this has been an easier process so far than doing much the same thing with Year 6s! Perhaps they don’t have 6 years of engrained practice to be ‘undone’?!