Anita Head, year 5–6 team leader at Halswell School, discusses the enablers of student success within their innovative learning environment. Shared planning via Google Docs has been important to ensure that each staff member understands what's happening for each of their students. Anita explains, "The key things that have enabled successful learning for our students have been that the staff are all working collaboratively together. So we’re learning from each other and developing any of our needs and our strengths in our own practice and we’re able to offer a wider range of opportunities for the students."
We have six teachers in the year five–six team and we operate in two T3’s. When we first moved into our new learning centres from our single cell classrooms, the first thing that we did was bring with us all the practice that we knew was already working and then look at how that needed to be adapted to work better in an ILE and therefore to better meet the needs of the students. We’ve also found that being able to work to each other’s strengths in this environment has been a huge plus as well and we’re able to support each other with any needs that we have in our own development.
So we quickly realised that all of our planning and assessment needed to be shared via the Google Docs simply because it was important for all of us to understand what was going on for the children that we were working with and we also needed to have shared formats for things like that so that we could understand each other’s work. We also developed a team agreement and that’s proved to be really important in making sure that we all have a clear understanding of what’s involved in this collaboration and everybody is playing their part. Gathering assessment data has been a huge challenge for us and is certainly an ongoing challenge and we’re still trying to figure out a system that works really well.
The spaces in our ILE work really well in allowing us to have a lot more flexibility in the way that we operate our programmes. It means that it’s really easy to have the children doing a lot of different tasks at the one time in a way that you couldn’t do in a single cell classroom.
We’ve made a lot of changes to the way that we approach learning and teaching. One of the big things for us has been to relinquish some of the control that we have and allow the children to have more agency over their learning and it’s also meant that we’ve had to really examine our programmes quite closely and think about what we feel will work in an ILE and what aspects of our programmes can actually be enhanced by an ILE.
The key things that have enabled successful learning for our students have been that the staff are all working collaboratively together so we’re learning from each other and developing any of our needs and our strengths in our own practice and we’re able to offer a wider range of opportunities for the students.