Ruby and Harriet, students from Halswell School, explain about how their innovative learning environment allows them to take control of their learning. Students can choose to work independently or collaboratively, while also having access to the variety of skills that each teacher can offer. Ruby says of the environment, "I like it because we have lots of freedom of what we would like to choose."
Ruby: I started Halswell School at the beginning of the year and it’s really different compared to my old school because we had single classrooms and coming to like the open planned classrooms is really, really cool. There’s different classes for maths for example, so the teachers have different skills and I can go to a different teacher for a different area that I need to learn. Having the big space is really cool ‘cos you can work with your friends from other classes.
Harriet: Working in a space with lots of other children means that you can work together with other people that you haven’t really worked with.
Ruby: We have a weekly timetable that comes up with all the workshops that you can go to for the subject that you’re doing and then you book yourself in and we write it in our diaries so we don’t forget that we have to go to that workshop.
Harriet: At Halswell School we aim to be ACTIVE learners. So every week we choose an ACTIVE goal and we learn about it and we try to achieve it. At the end of the week we do reflections and we review on how we have met that goal or how we haven’t met that goal and how we could improve or what our next goal will be and how we achieve that goal.
Ruby: We have breakout rooms off the big areas and they are for quiet rooms like big groups and there’s also a recording room and you just go in there if you want some quiet time or you want to work independently. And, we have these little sheets on the doors and self-directed learners have their photos and they put their photo up on the wall so they can go into the rooms. Being a self-directed learner means you can work independently, you can be on task at the right time and get your work done.
Harriet: I like it because we have lots of freedom of what we would like to choose. We don’t get set tasks and we know what we want to work on. Say for example, in writing we have goals, and if you don’t meet that goal, you’ll probably go to a workshop to try and get better at it.
We use a lot of our Google Docs which we can access from home and school and you can share it with your friends and family for feedback so you’re not always at the teacher. When I go into High School I think I’ll be more confident because I’ve learnt to work independently, I’ve learnt to work with lots of other different people and I’ve learnt to be able to go up to anybody and ask them for feedback and being able to work together.