Home' Teacher : April 2010 Contents Schools that
are part of any initiative
involving major spatial change -- whether
it's partial rebuilding, a new building or a
new campus -- face a lot of work. In order
to receive funding, the school leaders and
interested staff have held numerous plan-
ning meetings and responded to specific cri-
teria that require detailed documentation
of their commitment to improved school
learning environments and student learn-
ing outcomes. They're expected to develop,
implement and share effective practice and
programs, and forge community partner-
ships that support collaboration. In doing
this, they're expected to think beyond tra-
ditional practices and structures.
The middle years
Look at the research into the middle years
of schooling, for example by Peter Hill and
Jean Russell, and you find that recom men-
dations group around two themes: peda-
gogy and organisation. The new pedagogies
being advocated mean that teachers need
to, among other things, foster differenti-
ated, independent and collaborative learn-
ing, and plan and teach with colleagues in
multidisciplina ry teams. They also need to
assist their students to develop the skills
and dispositions required for self-directed
inquiry, problem-based learning, teamwork
and real-world research.
For most schools, such approaches have
a significant impact on administrative rou-
tines, timetables, room bookings and so
on. Time for teachers to plan together and
attend ongoing professional development
(PD) need to be found.
Strategically placed PD sessions
throughout the year are also necessary.
To be effective, the new pedagogies
require different physical spaces, but in
the minds of most teachers, and many cur-
riculum writers, that constitutes little more
than pushing the desks back at times to
allow for face-to -face discussions.
Teachers may be intuitively aware that
the physical environ ment provides, in
Peter Lippman's words, 'both affordance
and constraints for learning,' but they
don't explicitly state such things. Learning
space for most teachers is in the students'
heads. The tight timelines of the Building
the Education Revolution (BER) scheme of
the Commonwealth government, however,
is expediting spatial change.
Radicalshifts in any culture require immer-
sion of the 'players' in the supporting theo-
retical back-up. In-depth PD sessions will
be required before, during and after occu-
pation of new spaces.
Members of the school leadership team
or external consultants will need to support
and guide the staff through this period.
This might include offering incentives like
time release for teachers to collaborate
when planning to use new pedagogies in
new spaces, reflect on teaching strategies
and student activities, and undertake asso-
ciated professional reading. It's important
for the staff
to be kept informed
about the stages of the building process
and given opportunities to have substan-
tial input. This process will hopefully lead
teachers to see the new pedagogies and
spaces as superior to traditional models.
Teachers can observe powerful new
teaching and learning models by visiting
campuses that have adopted learning phi-
losophies like the Reggio Emilia student-
centred model, Philosophical Inquiry with
its emphasis on rigorous discussions and
'communities of inquiry,' or schools that
have incorporated Thinking Dispositions
or Habits of Mind to name a few.
New school building projects can be vast
in scope. In one outer suburban Melbourne
region, for example, several closely situated
secondary schools will combine, sited on a
single campus as 'schools within a school,'
which I'll call School A. Each school within
a schoolwillhouse approximately 300 Years
7 to 12 students and their teachers. What
I'll call School B, elsewhere in Melbourne,
will house 1,400 students and their teachers
from two Years 7 to 9 and one Prep to Year
6 schools on two sites in close proximity.
These two examples entail im mense
changes. Issues range from whether there'll
be a new school uniform to thehuge task of
38 TEACHER APRIL 2010
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