Yesterday I had the joy of visiting 2 open learning spaces: first of all as a team, the Leaders of Learning visited Albany Senior High School and then in the afternoon Maurie and I joined a group from the Ministry of Education in visiting the construction site for Hobsonville Point Secondary School.
I have been to Albany Senior High School before, but that was for Ignition Unconference in the holidays so this was the first time I had seen it full of students and in full swing. Anyone who struggles with the idea of how open the modern learning environments are should visit a school in action. The noise level is in effect lower than what you would find in many classrooms as the staff and students are aware that any loud noises they make will have an impact on lots of others and so self-regulation seems to emerge.
More importantly, I was impressed by 2 major factors here: the tutorial system and how research driven they are as a staff. We arrived half way through one of their 2 one hundred minute tutorials that occur each week. In this time each teacher (including DPs) is with their 15 student tutorial group – 5 yr 11, 5 yr 12 and 5 yr 13. This time is like a study period for the students where they decide what they are working on but the tutor teacher also uses it for catching up with individual students. The small nature of the groups means that strong relationships emerge and tutor teachers can track, challenge and nurture the students in their group.
When discussing their approach at ASHS, the senior leaders were often referring to the books or research that informed their decision making. It is also clear that it is not done in a tokenistic way but one where they clearly understand and have reflected on these learnings. This approach continues into their professional inquiries where each teacher must undertake an inquiry into a ‘crisis’ in their teaching. Research and data must be linked into this when determining what crisis they will inquire into and also at each step of the way as they generate alternate theories as to why this crisis exists and of course at the end when they show how they have tackled the crisis and with what outcome. I really enjoyed discussing this with Hamish and no doubt will be in touch with more questions!
Then in the afternoon, I had my first site visit to where I will be teaching next year. I have seen photos from when the rest of team visited whilst I was in Japan and drive past the outside of the site everyday but was very excited to get inside for the first time. I was struck by the size of the project, exemplified by the 250m long corridor running through the middle which the learning spaces open up from. It was heartening seeing some of the glass panes up and being able to picture how the spaces will look compared to what we see at Hobsonville Point Primary where we are based and what we saw in the morning at ASHS.
I got very excited and took loads of photos but here’s a few to show how it is shaping up:
Very exciting, can’t wait!