I began my last blog: "Unfortunately my inquiry has been on the back burner due to the ongoing building projects..." and then I got to thinking, whilst I am vitally interested in Gifted & Talented students and how we can channel their particular strengths to help them gain greater shifts in their learning, the interruptions to my inquiry have been in fact the actual work I do in supporting and developing ILEs (Innovative Learning Environments) here at Pt England. Of course ILEs are spaces designed to help raise student achievement and so I'm going to change my inquiry focus and share our journey, both in resent history and also out into the days ahead.
We have had, as a school, the opportunity to build new classrooms through, first re-capitation (becoming a full primary Yr 1-8) and secondly roll growth and replacement building funding grants. Our journey began 6yrs ago with the building of the 4 classroom Intermediate Block, followed by the extension of this block and then the building of the 5 classroom Yr 5&6 Block completed 18 months ago. We are currently in the confirmation of design stage of a 4 classroom block for the Yr 2s, scheduled for completion in June 2017.
Just as it is true that a house doesn't make a home so ILEs are much more than the bricks and mortar, fancy furniture, 1x1 devices and ultra fast broadband connection. Integral to the development of building design in a teaching & learning context is reworked pedagogy. We had the opportunity to contextualise pedagogical change first in the new Intermediate Block and then over 18 months in modified existing "temporary" classrooms during the planning and construction of the Yr 5&6 block. This period of development greatly influenced the final design and confirmed many aspects of the changes in pedagogy. Also, the last 18 months teaching & learning in the Yr 5&6 block have brought about tweaks and reinforcement in the design of the proposed Y2 block.
The "environment" in the title ILE suggests to us much more than one isolated location. Rather, it encompasses not only the teaching & learning "caves" but also their interconnection, their immediate environs and their relationship to other buildings and grounds. It includes, hard court playing areas, porch spaces, shade sails, entry and exit points etc. and the degree to which the whole ILE facilitates flexibility of use.
It has been, and continues to be, my pleasure to assist in the facilitation of the collaborative process described above. In future blogs I'll share more detail of what has worked and include teacher and, just as importantly, student reflections. Please feel free to comment and/or ask questions.