One of the challenges leaders in school face is to explain, even market to parents why changes occur. I was faced with such a challenge recently as I published the 2008 school structures in the school newsletter. For four years we had implemented multi aged groupings for both educational and financial reasons. These muli aged groupings proved a challenge for some of our teaching staff. It forced us as teachers to look beyond the whole group expectations, beyond the text book strategies and more to the individual needs of the students in our class. This is a little over simplified but the central thrust was that we, as teachers had to learn new ways of teaching students, to provide entry and exit points for activities that catered for a wider range of students. Luckily we had the support of a number of key educators who worked in with teachers modelling and more recently coaching.
However the multi aged structures changed for 2008 when gender imbalances forced us to revert back in most cases to aged based home groups.
The senior school are the exception as they will soon shift into new 21st century styled buildings with lots of different shaped and sized spaces where flexible sized groupings will be the norm.
Well parent feedback has been supportive for the age normed groupings which is to be expected for in lots of cases it supports a nostaligic image of schooling, something close to what we may have experienced ourselves.
I had to respond this week in the school newsletter:
Our strategic direction remains the same: to organise students in groups that best meet their learning needs and continue our high standards in literacy and numeracy. To construct inquiry learning units that challenge our 21st century learners to think, work in flexible groupings and take actions on a local and global level. And to support our teachers to improve their instructional capacities to meet the challenges of teaching and learning 21st century . To quote Gandhi “We must be the change we wish to see in the world”. Our work is too important not to challenge the anchors of our schooling experiences if we wish to truly engage our children in resolving the dilemmas of an ever changing world.
Our work continues.