Friday, 30 October 2009

Reflecting on teaching - then considering learning environments. The right way round!

It's always fantastic speaking to, and working with, teachers who want to know how they can continue to improve their practice, and be really motivated to contribute to the design of their learning environment to allow their students to learn effectively now and in the future.

I was speaking yesterday at a 'Design Summit' with the Science Department at the excellent Adlai E Stevenson High School, Lincolnshire, near Chicago. AESHS, with 4,500 students, is one of the most successful schools in Illinois and lots of their facilities are fabulous.
The very good Science Department is the next department to have it's physical facilities put under the microscope for improvement. The very engaged and committed faculty members have really spent time beginning to consider what they want. What they do NOT want is simply new 'old' facilities.
Encouragingly, they have done absolutely the right thing by looking at what they want students to be able to do, how they want students and staff to learn together and explore a wide range of pedagogical approaches. They are also going to really engage with students to ensure they have a powerful voice in learning and then consider how all this affects design.
This makes life so much easier for staff, architects and facilities staff to start a good dialogue when the project starts. The Faculty have already started the conversations internally: they know they do too much whole group teaching, they want more practical work, they want to be more agile in teaching strategies and increase personalisation, and have much better integration of appropriate technology.
The very dedicated staff do want to know what is happening in other places, nationally and internationally. They are really thinking before rushing into any decisions. This approach is just so right!
Architects Rick Dewar and Trung Le from owP/p planned this summit and science staff worked all afternoon and well into the evening fully engaged and identifying aspects they wanted to explore further. It was a vibrant and engaging event.
I was really happy to be part of the session - it just has the feeling that the students are going to continue to have massive opportunities in science to learn in ways they really motivate them!
I just wish that every school approached things in this open minded way. I am very excited to have been a very small part of this project and look forward to seeing the end result!

No comments: