Friday, February 13, 2015

Passionate prototyping!

Life is busy in a school.  Anyone Everyone in education will be aware of that but slipping back into the fast current of a large busy school is a constant reminder to me that there is no job in education where you are not constantly busy.  It often gets hard to focus on the big picture when we get bogged down in the small details, so often.

We started our first teacher only day this year with our principal @scottthelning sharing the video clip above.  It was a good reminder about the creative journey we at Cobham Intermediate are on in preparation for a complete school re-build in 2016.  Some key phrases immediately jump to the forefront when watching it...designing something requires focus, how do we want people to feel, it takes time, enhances each life it touches.  These are some key drivers that should remain in mind when working through the design process and more importantly, the impact it's all having on our students.

Last year Cobham trialled a collaborative space by knocking out walls, opening/joining up the spaces between 2 old classrooms. This was the first stage of MLE (modern learning environment) prototyping.   The 2 teachers in each of the 2 spaces had the opportunity to re-design their space, creating flexible learning areas to better meet the needs of the students.  Students had input into this process by identifying what furniture they might need and why, where it should go and how the classes could work together and eventually become one.  The teachers went through the same processes in regards to their collegial relationship as well.  It was so successful that all 4 teachers insist that they could no longer go back to teaching independently in a single cell classroom.  They felt the kids were getting a 2 for 1 deal by having access and support to 2 teachers at all times, built close friendships with more students and learned to work and collaborate with all types.  The kids reiterated the same feelings.

So guess what, now we have 4 classroom blocks with holes in the walls.  There has been no compulsory stand on this, no demand from leadership as to everyone must work in a collaborative space and by when.  This has come from teachers identifying that they want to try it, in fact there was even an application process for the teachers as not all classrooms could be converted and there were more who wanted the opportunity to work collaboratively in an open space rather than those who didn't.  These teachers want to take risks, do things differently, have some exciting new learning taking place and to have some epic fails.  Which was awesome because they learned so much from these epic fails and shared this with their colleagues who are dipping their toes into the prototyping pool this year.

I can't wait to see who might put up their hand in the next school holiday block and ask for a chainsaw and some of our amazing builder Dad's to come in and attack their classroom next, if possible!

And to all those out there in the busy education world who are also in the prototyping phase-congratulations on taking the first step! Keep your focus, hang in there it takes time, remember you are trying to enhance each life your teaching touches!