Lucy Fong, year 3 and 4 team leader at Woodend School, explains how her team used their existing space develop an innovative learning environment. Lucy discusses their transition from single cell classrooms to a collaborative learning environment. This required them use existing spaces creatively, while focusing on student learning needs.
Lucy Fong: Matai have set up collaborative spaces for learning by using what we have which is single cell classrooms. We’ve had to be quite creative about how we did that. We wanted to have spaces where the students could work silently if they chose to and then collaboratively. We did that together as a team and it’s been a lot of trial and error.
Ruby: First we have got room 12 which is our roving room and it is a talkative room, well yeah, you can talk in there and you can go in there with your friends but still get work completed and then you’ve got the middle cloak bay in there and that is where some teacher aides work and you can help and also you can go in there if you want silent work, as well as room 30 which you can go and do silent work.
Lucy Fong: So adapting our spaces to fit how we wanted our learning environment to work for us has probably been the hardest part about the journey. We’ve had to think quite cleverly. Yes, there’s not a lot of bean bags or things like that, there is just desks and as you can see there’s lots of desks in this room but in our other two rooms next door, there’s not because they’re teaching spaces and they’re on the mat with the teacher.
Christy and Ruby: I think the teaching space is a good area and you get a lot of work done. This is the teaching room, teaching tunnels, and in here I go for maths and reading and with Mr Crawford and then here Miss Fong works for maths and reading.
Lucy Fong: At the beginning of the year we started with a parent evening to make sure that our community knew the changes that were happening in the classrooms. They came into the classroom and actually saw the environment. We thought that was the best way for them to understand the changes. Parents had lots and lots of questions. I think once they realised that nothing had changed, we still wanted the best for their children, they felt at ease. They’ve all been really positive, it helps that the children are really positive about it. Mike’s been fantastic in terms of putting stuff on our class blog, our syndicate blog, on the website, he’s kept them really informed.
Ruby: When we write our blog, we draft it straight onto our blogger and then once we think it’s all good, we show the other bloggers which is Caitlyn and Christy and then if it’s good, we all publish it.
Lucy Fong: For me, the biggest benefit has been getting to know 120 kids rather than one single cell classroom of 30. Especially as team leader, I can now be positive with those students that I may only see sometimes for a negative reason. I get to work with an awesome bunch of people and get to know them, their skills and the things that they’re best at and utilise them, cos they have got skills I don’t.
I’m seeing lots of kids that maybe wouldn’t usually come out of their shell actually starting to come out of their shell and building other friendships with lots of different age groups. Students working together is always going to be beneficial. They put it in KidSpeak better than I can and working together, they hear each other’s conversations, they take other things that they wouldn’t take from me or anyone else so that’s got to be a plus.