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.