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Developing a collaborative learning environment in partnership with students

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Duration: 2:28

Kurt Soares and Kirsty Soames, from South New Brighton School, describe how they started team teaching and constructed a collaborative space from a traditional classroom with their students. Kurt comments, "It’s been an easy process and it’s certainly improved learning in my class."

Kurt Soares: So at the beginning of the year, we came into this new classroom and as you can see behind me, the wall has been removed from between the two rooms. The purpose of this was so that we could trial some team teaching techniques. We’ve slowly edged into that over the course of the year. We began with our physical environment, getting the kids onboard, designing their own learning spaces. We followed a design process and based around our school vision, which is to be a community of quality learners nurturing the values of citizenship, achievement, responsibility, and effort. We have based our learning spaces around that philosophy so the children are quite aware of it. They talk about the spaces that they like to learn best in. Spaces that are up high, down low, individual, collaborative spaces, or our whole class learning space.

Kirsty Fletcher: We’ve talked to our children about how they learn best and we’re going through that process of: Do they like to use technology to learn? Do they learn better in a little group? Or, do they learn by themselves?

Kurt Soares: With that being established, we’ve now moved in towards our pedagogy, which involves moving towards self-directed learning meaning that the children use the tools around them and the spaces around them to achieve their own goals in their learning. Probably the most significant aspect of technology that we use in our classroom are the ipads. They are, the children use them for drafting and publishing their written work. They use ShowMe to explain their thinking in maths time. Sometimes we use them as part of my group teaching, they’re just invaluable.

We’ve started to introduce team teaching. We’re using both teachers to play to their strengths. We’re gradually looking at experimenting with some different teaching techniques. We’re looking at, for example, one teacher, one roving as our next, our next big step.

So we’ve started this whole process off using your standard old fashioned classroom. Originally it was a single unit. We could have done it with a single unit. All we’ve done really is move the furniture, change the spaces based on needs identified by the kids. I believe that this can easily be done in any classroom and I’d certainly recommend any teachers to give it a go. It’s been an easy process and it’s certainly improved learning in my class.

Tags: Primary, Innovative learning environment, Collaborative teaching