Tuesday, 4 August 2015

Can change happen in an Open Learning Environment?

A fellow tweeter posted this quote: 

"Great teachers change their methods min by min: while being staunchly consistent in their relationships with students."  @Charbonneau 

with their own comment, "One of the reasons I love my single cell classroom! I love change & are always trying new things!"

Naturally, this got me thinking.... The big question that popped into my head was, well if I'm not a single cell teacher does this mean I cannot change my methods and therefore I'm a poor teacher!?!? But it's more important to answer the little questions.

  • Can I and do I change my methods min by min?
  • Have I made changes since moving from single cell to open environment?
  • Are my changes any less?
  • Do the students 'miss out' because I may not be able to make an immediate change?
I think there are different levels to what you might change in a classroom. 

There are those days where students or the teacher is 'not feeling it' and so in the morning, or throughout the day you 'throw away' your planned writing and you spend that time doing something else - an experience that leads to great oral language, values building, skills in other areas, and then perhaps even writing about it at another time. In a single cell classroom, this can happen on a whim. In an open learning environment it can require a bit of communication but actually, there's no reason why the group of children your with can't have that opportunity too. As a school and a team we believe in the importance curiosity has on 'in the moment,' engaging learning and therefore it is always our best intention to have the children's idea and questions be the vehicle for any learning.

Then, there's the changes of groups. At this moment in time, with the phase we're in (phase - suggesting we're changing/refining the way we work), for some learning areas a student is assigned a mentor for that area. For example, I have a group of children who always work with me for literacy, they are 'my' literacy children. Within those children I DO frequently change their groups depending on their needs and pull them out for workshops based on that. This is not necessarily levelled, but based on their needs. What about between mentors? Well, overnight they move mentor groups. Assessment, planning and anecdotal notes (most importantly conversations) are open for all mentors to see. They are really 'our' children. And yes it does work even with high numbers - but that's a whole other blog post!

So what about within groups? Well that's easy. It's no different to a single-cell classroom. For example, if you're trying to teach subtraction and you quickly observe a student or students can't count backwards, you immediately change the learning purpose for those students.

Quite simply, I don't think I have lost any freedom. We are encouraged to be innovative, share ideas and make change happen for better learning. The team are always talking to each other and when you have support from others, I have found it's often easier to put change into place.

Am I lucky with the support I get from the team I work with? Maybe. Or is it the culture and expectation?

1 comment:

  1. There seems to be an interesting divide in conversations about MLEs. It almost feels like the haves and have nots with regards the buildings which intrigues me.... It seems that there are many assumptions being made. You make some great points about adaptive teaching and the parallels within your groups to what was happening in your single cell classroom. You highlight the conversations, support and collaboration you receive from your team. I believe it is this that deepens our pedagogy and subsequently accelerates the practices/ phase that you are in. I wonder if you have had conversations about other ways of grouping children?