This week I have had colleagues from the Catholic Education office in Parramatta NSW visit Elsternwick Primary to look at the use of flexible learning spaces, how technology is embedded into facilities and the curriculum, as well as a model of Inquiry learning. It was a privilege to be asked to share our journey so far as we talked through the various opportunities and challenges involved in utilising flexible [note flexible does not always mean open] learning spaces. We talked about one of challenges for teachers is opening or de-privatising their instruction practice within these spaces to their colleagues.
One of the challenges we can face is from senior teachers who remember the open learning spaces of the 1970’s where teachers often created make shift walls to fill open spaces. There was often little or no pedagogical thinking, data informed research or professional learning to support teachers working in these spaces in the 1970’s. I know I taught in these spaces in the late 70’s and early 80’s.
This has changed in the 21st century with lots of research to suggest that when we improve teachers instructional capacity we improve student learning. Note I am connecting flexible spaces with opportunities to deprivatize our work so that we challenge our anchors of the past and search for new instructional ways to engage and enrich learning. When we explicitly teach students collaborative learning and interpersonal skills within an inquiry framework we get improved learning outcomes as the understandings students develop are far deeper and more connected to real life situations
We now understand that students need explicit teaching of skills and concepts but a deeper framework that enables then to construct understandings and action their learning.
I hope to remain in touch as their journey in Parramatta continues.