Tamaki College teacher, Noelene Dunn describes how she changed her classroom into a flexible learning space and the innovative practices she uses to support learning. Year 10 student, Taylor describes how the ILE the helps his learning.
Taylor: Our classroom is more different to the average classroom as we have couches and beanbags and comfortable chairs to be able to sit on.
Noelene: A few years ago the college sent a few Manaiakalani teachers to Melbourne to look at modern learning environments and then I reflected on myself as a teacher and on my two children and then we are trying to get some work done. It's very seldom that we're sitting upright at a table we are lounging somewhere.
So I came back to school and I've just removed about six to ten desks. I didn't say a word to my students, they walked in, they didn't really question me they just used available seats or they sat on the floor and they were quite comfortable. I then got some student voice and they wanted couches and they wanted comfortable chairs and beanbags. I went out and I got these items, the school approved it and students are absolutely loving it. They walk into there they don't know any other environment in this classroom except what they have.
Taylor: Depending on your mood, like if you’re feeling a bit tired you can just go and sit on the beanbag and you’re comfortable. You can do your work on there and it's better than just sitting in rows at desks. It's proven you do more work when you’re comfortable.
Noelene: Students don't see this as "I'm now in a Maths room I have to forget all my other learning and think in a Mathematical way", because they are so relaxed it's easier for them to bring their prior knowledge into the classroom.
Taylor: If I want to work with someone else I can just go and sit there.
Noelene: Collaboration, they sometimes don't even have to be sitting next to somebody because they can collaborate via email, collaborate via Google doc. So they can choose to sit with their friends or they can choose to sit on their own. We also have resources where sometimes students have to work as teams and they absolutely love it.
Taylor: The best thing about the classroom are the inspirational quotes on the wall and how it inspires you to work hard for what you do.