As we near the occupancy of the first new learning spaces constructed at Elsternwick Primary since 1920, and before I am completely swept away with the detail surrounding the final stages of this building, the whole construction process begs me to reflect on the initial learning pedagogy behind the design and what I have learnt so far.
We began some 30 months ago planing to build learning spaces that were flexible [no more corridors with fewer walls], catered for different styles of learning [active, collaborative or individual], rich in technology, capable of being used by students for scientific experiments or quiet reading corners. Our pedagogy centered around active learning where students construct deep understandings from challenging tasks, that knowledge is inert unless acted upon, that students need teachers with multiple instructional and feedback strategies so that they learn the core tool skills [note this includes thinking and social competencies as well as English and math] which are practised regularly.
So what have we learned:
- that its about dedicated spaces that enable students and teachers to learn [the flexiblity comes form being able to change the spaces for a different purpose].
- design from the inside out
- whilst you might work on pedagogy and instructional practice don’t be surprised when the day arrives of the “fear of the unknown” factor still – yes we are reshaping teacher culture by working openly – deprivatising our practice thus being open to constant reflection and feedback. We held back a little from showing teachers other schools who “live” pedagogy and space in case the temptation to fill a vacuum proved too great – you need to understand context and learn to create rather than simply adopt.
- don’t be scared to create furniture to meet learning styles - we, initially through Woods Furniture in Melbourne got the name of a manufacturer- we now have 2 companies who produce quality products – expensive but worth it.
There’s more learning and photos along the way and its an exciting opportunity.