Eilish Moran, teacher at Halswell School, explains how their innovative learning environment collaborative operates. Each teacher has a group of students – a T group – within their innovative learning environment. This is the "home" group. She and her students share how they connect with parents and whānau through blogs and email. Students have agency over their learning and understand their learning goals. Students can choose where they learn, for example they can lie on the floor and do their writing or go into a quiet room and write.
Eilish Moran: In the New Entrant environment, all year we are getting new children. We have what we call T groups, so our teacher group has new children coming into it all the time and they visit us for three weeks before they actually come to school permanently. I will do the roll with those children who are my T group, I will read them stories and then they will go off and then we’ll say, “Now it’s reading time,” and then we will all merge into the different reading groups and then we might come back and do our poetry together as the T groups. So there’s some things that are T group sort of orientated and then others we go, right, writing, numeracy, literacy, we actually have that all merged out between the other teachers. In our environment, we have a blog for each studio area and we put things on that all the time.
Mathew: We put writing on the blog and if you want to put a comment you just have to go to the what says comments, if it has one comment or two or none. Oh wow, I’ve got two comments. This is my Mum, “Thanks for letting us know the work is underway, I hope it gets finished quickly so you all can use your cubby holes again.”
Eilish Moran: We also have an email that we put out every week and just say what’s happening and what’s coming up, just to keep people as a community together and be really informed with them. When children start school we do a series of tests which is on literacy and numeracy. So from that, we put that data onto Google Docs. We know exactly where they are with their numeracy, their forward-backwards counting, their number knowledge.
Georgia: And we have special sheets in our maths books what our goals are and my goal is make five with five. Well, the ones that are coloured in are the ones that I already know. But the ones that aren’t coloured in with the highlighter around it is the ones I need to practice.
Eilish Moran: We have a team meeting every Wednesday at lunch time. And we just say, “How’s phonics going, where are they at? He needs to go into your group”, then we all just move things around but we really keep onto it with every single child so it’s fantastic. I think the children in the collaborative environment have much more choice with where they’re going to learn, how they’re going to learn. They can just choose the style of learning, whether they want to lie on the floor and do their writing, it’s absolutely fine. If they want to go into a quiet room and write. A lot of children, you know, are noise sensitive. I think it just really caters for every child’s needs.