Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Pedagogy and 'old school' design working together

Any school that is serious about providing a modern learning environment for their children, whether they are getting a new build or not, is looking at their teaching pedagogy (the method and practice of teaching and learning) and therefore its learning programme structure and how it connects with the physical space you have.
Pedagogy and design working together creates the environment of a 'third' teacher. While a new school gets a design built for this century that encourages this philosophy we have approached it from the inside out! By developing the purpose behind what we do and how we do it we have challenged our thinking around what our learning spaces were set up to do. The elements of the room layout, the type of furniture you have and the connection between the learning spaces are all pieces of the puzzle and impact directly on your teaching philosophy (and vice versa!) Whether you have a new school that challenges the status quo straight off or a 1950-1970's design that demands a bit more radical thinking you can still make it happen! Myross Bush School designed our teaching pedagogy to bring our design into the 21st century. Our school still looks the same from the outside but things have radically changed on the inside and its our challenge this year to help all our learning community understand a bit more about just how much school has changed since they were there.

Below are some answers that parents are asking about this teaching and learning shift.  
Why teach in teams?
Our staff are passionate about developing learning pathways that are personal and individualised for every child. This means that we strive to have every student learning the right thing, at the right time, in the right way. Team Teaching allows us to enhance these deliberate acts of teaching through a combination of ‘Workshops’ and ‘Action Stations’ by having two teachers giving the students focussed teacher attention during these times.

This team approach also gives us the opportunity to grasp the power of teacher collaboration, student to teacher feedback and also formative assessment methods; all highly ranked teaching approaches highlighted in John Hattie’s Research into effective teaching and learning strategies. (Visible Learning, 2009)

How does Team Teaching Work?
Team Teaching at MBS involves 2 teachers working together with 2 ‘homeroom’ classes. They are directly responsible for the pastoral needs of their homeclass and are the first ‘port of call’ for parents and students. During the day, however, both teachers are involved in running workshops and action stations for both classes.

A typical learning hour would involve one teacher teaching a focussed workshop with 8-15 students in one learning space, while the other teacher facilitates the rest of the students during the independent / co-operative learning time. Both students and teachers have reflected (and the research conducted in other schools has reinforced this) that team teaching has given them more focussed learning time and an overall increase in student / teacher time.

Could my child’s learning get lost in such large numbers?

We work very hard to ensure that our learners do not ‘get lost’ at MBS. Everything we do, from goal setting, to grouping students according to learning needs and the individual tracking systems we use, is done to guide and direct the next learning step at the right time.

We have found that the benefits of teaching in teams are 3 fold: 

The teacher in the action station rooms are able to fully focus on the learners working on independent and cooperative learning experiences.

The teacher in the workshops are able to fully focus on the learners and the learning that is happening in front of them.

The students are always supervised and able to have a teacher’s full attention in a way not available with a one teacher system.

How do you keep track of where they are if they move around the school so much?

All of our teaching teams work with 2 or more learning spaces next door to each other and the students and teachers move between the rooms regularly as the day plays out.

We have also developed some accountability systems for students of all ages and abilities. Every class, from the New Entrants to our year 6s, use a ‘Learner License System’, for example. This is a rights/responsibilities system that guides each learner to develop their next step as a learner through developing 4 key learning strategies (such as ‘Staying on Task and Focussed’). They are also allowed certain rights that come with each level that matches their progress as a learner. This develops high levels of independence and gives every student the support they need to succeed. 

We believe in giving each learner the right level of support they need, when they need it and in the way that they need it. Team Teaching gives us the time to be able to be able to do this effectively.

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