Gabrielle Nuthall, teacher at Halswell School, explains that their innovative learning environment allows teachers to better meet the needs of their students. By teaching as a team they are able to provide more focused support. She says, "It really helps to really meet the needs of those children where they’re at. For the children, what we’re seeing is that they’re just so engaged with their learning."
Gabrielle Nuthall: So the spaces are very much built around the one communal space in the middle, and off to the sides of these are different areas that the children can use in different ways.
Makaia: We normally have set out rooms where they are, so Listen to Reading would be in the green room, that’s the computer room and the Word Book would be in the wet room ‘cos that’s a place if we’re doing playdough, it’s a wet room so it’s easy to clean up. And then Work on Writing would be in the main space which is the whole Orongomai and Read to Someone’s in the blue room.
Ben: There’s a lot of things I like about this space but my most favourite one is probably the silent rooms. So I can just go, “I really need to concentrate on my work but everyone’s bugging me, oh I can just go to the red room and just do my work.”
Gabrielle Nuthall: So they know that when they’re in those rooms what’s expected and it just sets them up for success because they’ve chosen where they’re going, how they’re going to use that space and they know what’s expected of them. They have a passport in their book box which they get out and look at and they choose a goal that they’re working on and they work through that and when they think they’ve achieved it, they bring it to the teacher and the teacher will sign them off on that and they move onto another goal. So they’re choosing their own goals that they’re working through. So one of the benefits of being in this learning environment for the children is that we can teach to their needs. Being able to group across five or three just gives us that many more options that we can work so that we really are targeting their needs. And for the children that’s really great ‘cos we can then move them on to their next move at their speed.
Makaia: Well for reading we get a Daily Five timetable and we have to fill out what things we would like to do for the rotations. So today I had Teacher with Miss Cullinane first rotation and I read a book. Sometimes there’s my referring group and sometimes it’s just me reading to the teacher by myself. And then second rotation I went to Research and I did some filming and I wrote some stories and the third rotation is now I’m getting filmed again.
Gabrielle Nuthall: Because there are five of us in this teaching environment and we’re working with all the children, we’re able to teach in different ways so that actually meets the children’s needs differently too.
Makaia: Well you kinda get used to having another teacher. It’s kind of really fun being with other teachers and working with other kids.
Gabrielle Nuthall: Because things are changing all the time we move our groupings around quite a lot. It really helps to really meet the needs of those children where they’re at. For the children, what we’re seeing is that they’re just so engaged with their learning when they come to school, and for the teachers, we’re really passionate about what we’re doing too. So, all in all, when the teachers are enjoying it and the children are enjoying it, then the learning experiences are just wonderful.