I thought it would be interesting to talk to some of the Provisionally Registered Teachers working at my school, to hear their first hand experiences about working in a MLE. Even though it is a while ago now,(!) I can still remember my first teaching position and the excitement of finally having a class to call my own! The hours of setting up and all those resources finally going up on the wall. My very own teacher desk and one desktop computer in the corner with a printer that had Microsoft Works, Dangerous Creatures and Encarta!!
I wondered how it would feel to not have that experience. To go from teacher's college straight into a shared learning space. To find out I interviewed Jacinta, Caitlin and Jason, provisionally registered teachers at Clearview Primary. They all began teaching at Clearview Primary in 2013. Jacinta and Jason had previously been student teachers in our stage 1 space when they were being operated as single cell classrooms.
Caitlin commented that as she was used to having an associate teacher in the room, she had found it easy to work alongside other teachers.
Jason said it was great to get management tips and tricks from more experienced teachers.
The PRT's said there wasn't any preparation at Teacher's College for the possibility of teaching collaboratively or in a shared teaching space.
The PRT's felt the opportunity to work collaboratively with experienced teachers was a fantastic opportunity. They could observe colleagues, plan together and have support with making overall teacher judgements.
The PRT's felt they had a strong bond with the students in their home class. They said it was essential that at the start of the year you had the opportunity to develop relationships with that group of students. For Jacinta and Caitlin, they spend two afternoons a week with their home class, the rest of the time is spent teaching collaboratively. They both felt this was an important time to focus on pastoral care and relationships. Jason spends more time with his home class, as his team is currently developing their collaborative practices.
Jacinta had taught in a single cell classroom last year for three terms. She noted that working in a shared space, you can lose some flexibility. For example, in a single cell classroom, if her writing session was going particularly well, she could continue with it. However, timetable restrictions in a shared space and with workshops running to time, you are unable to do this.
Jason also felt that some flexibility was lost and it was often difficult to find time to fit in "bits and pieces", like buddy classes and when your class was on presenting assembly.
The PRT's found that developing collaborative practice takes time. There have been extra meetings as their team has constantly sought to reflect on and improve their practice. As one of the teaching spaces only opened this year, it has been challenging for all teachers involved to develop the systems needed.
How will Colleges of Education respond to the changes in teaching pedagogies? What changes will they need to make to prepare teachers for new environments and ways of working?
How can we ensure that "teachable moments" and flexiblity can still be allowed for in a collaborative open space?
What changes to Advice and Guidance programmes will schools need to make? For example, should a PRT teach collaboratively with their tutor teacher?
It was great to hear from our PRT's who are all having a highly successful year of teaching. In some ways, if working in a MLE is your first experience, you are at an advantage over those of us who are having to unlearn and relearn in order to transition to teaching in a MLE. I hope to catch up with our teachers in Term 4, to find out what other reflections they have on the year.
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.