Today I paid a visit to the Year 5-8 classroom block at my school, Clearview Primary. It was great to see the buzz of activity with some quality teaching and learning taking place. I had visited briefly in Term 1 and could really see a difference in the way the students and teachers were using the space. There were a lot of different things going on - art, literacy, buddy time, inquiry learning.
I noticed that the layout of the spaces has evolved. There are some areas with wide open spaces. Students can work on the floor, in bean bags, use the floor desks or sit at a low table. There are other areas that have tables and chairs available.
Upon chatting to students, it became clear that they had preferences about where they worked. Several students told me they liked to work at the tables and chairs in the large breakout room. They said they could also block some of the noise from others in here. Others told me they loved the beanbags and that was their favourite place to be.
Presently, there in only one teaching space that is full to capacity. All the others have 2 classes operating in a 3 class space. Those areas were noticeably quieter and the students were able to arrange themselves in different ways.
It was fantastic to have the opportunity to be an observer and to interact with the students and talk about their learning. I can't wait to go back and look at how the teachers are planning and organising the day in their classes.
How different is it when 2 teachers collaborate or 3 teachers collaborate? I noticed with 2 teachers there were a lot of teacher interactions. Teachers were giving directions together, commenting or reiterating, and often supporting each other. How is that different with a larger number of teachers? Does the dynamic change and one teacher is leading more often, rather than being co-leaders?
How do you manage the noise level? All the teachers and students commented that it is a lot noisier in this new block than in their old stand alone classroom. You could definitely hear other classes. What strategies and routines are vital for respectful learning?
My name is Ngaire Shepherd-Wills. This website is a record of my TeachNZ sabbatical, Term 2, 2013 and then I have continued to share my wonderings and discoveries about Innovative Learning Practices. I now work for CORE Education. Views are my own.