Friday 5 August 2011

Modern Learning Environments

With my many hats of MUSAC MD, Dad and BoT representative, I'm lucky to be exposed to similar issues and concepts in all the roles. One of those is that of Modern Learning Environments. Our school is looking to upgrade some classrooms to that more better suited to more modern pedagogy, I see my kids learning in ways that contrasts significantly with my primary school days and have recently heard the Ministry policy and seen an implementation of this first hand in regards to Modern Learning Environments.

With my MUSAC MD hat on I attended the SEO conference in Rotorua last week and sat in on the Ministry talk about Modern Learning Environments in relation to property. Yesterday I was in Auckland as part of a reference group which was hosted by Stonefields Primary School. We were given a tour and I assume saw the Ministry property policy (amongst others) in action.

I asked the teacher showing us around whether the new environment changed the way she taught or made it easier. Her response was both. She indicated that the new environment better supported the way she had taught in previous schools but was also contributing to changing the way she taught because the three teachers in her hub were able to observe each others practice and help each other improve.

Being some one who goes off on tangents and this is my blog ... I linked two other things I'm associated with/doing:
  1. Reading Sir Ken Robinson's book on creativity "Out of Our Minds" in which he speaks of the stifling of creativity and Education being stuck in an industrial revolution paradigm. Stonefields Primary might sit on top of an old quarry, but they (like many other schools in NZ) seem not to quite fit the out of date model Sir Ken (with respect) refers. OK - I'm only up to chapter 6!
  2. The great structure and scaffold around profession development of teachers and linkages with Initial Teacher Education (ITE) at College Street Normal school here in Palmerston North. Mr Kennedy has developed with his team a positive and proactive structure that leverages internal  expertise and teacher observation (peer and self review) to grow individual capabilities. Not sure if a case study has been written up, but had great feedback from ITE students on practicum in the school. Maybe at next years Inspired Impact conference?
My point. These modern learning environments seem to be a step in the right direction if the comments from the Stonefields teacher yesterday, the types of scaffold around professional development with peer review/observation that make a difference for students, over laid with the issues Sir Ken so eloquently portrays, are anything to go by.

Almost sounds like an endorsement of Ministry policy :)