Observation Task

After reviewing the assessment guidelines, I decided to choose a space in my school to observe and document for Blog Task 2. I decided to observe a space that I visit everyday but do not really spend a lot of time there. I split my observation up into two parts, the first was in the morning before students were at school and then the second part, I went back when I knew students would be around.

The area I observed was an open space in the middle of the three year 5/6 classrooms. It is also a major thoroughfare from the front of the school to the year 3/4 portable buildings.

I visit the space regularly, I walk through it everyday and I often work with the year 5/6 students and their teachers…but I have never used this space with them- I feel like it is wasted space that could be used better by myself and the students and teachers in the area.

Here are my notes and observations-

Morning observation:

  • Many teachers walking back and forth to get from one end of the school to the other.
  • The tables, chairs and ottomans just seemed to be placed any which way.
  • All furniture seems close together
  • Locker tubs trolleys were neat and tidy
  • iPad trolley secured to the wall
  • Smaller table in the corner, no chairs around it
  • Student work displays on pin boards
  • Decorations hanging from the ceilings
  • Large panelled windows that take up a whole wall, some are coloured glass
  • Some student artwork on the windows
  • Two blinds halfway open- one closed
  • It’s quite

Afternoon Observation:

  • Students walking in and out to get iPads, books, things from their tubs
  • Two students working independently near the windows
  • Teachers and students from other classes walking through the space to get from one part of the school to the next
  • Blinds were the same, two up, one down
  • Noise coming from nearby art room and classrooms
  • Large sliding door of a classroom gets shut for about 10 minutes before reopening
  • Locker tub trolley untidy, bags spilling out
  • Rubbish on the floor
  • Ottomans tipped over

The shape of the space is quite odd so I used the iPad app MagicPlan to capture it and annotated my sketches over the top-

Screen Shot 2014-08-04 at 7.07.00 pm

 

9 Comments


  1. Hi Bec,

    Like you say, it’s a bit of an odd wee space isn’t it? From your observations, it looks like it’s mostly a space people walk through, or come in to get something. You do mention that two kids were working their on the afternoon, but it doesn’t sound like it’s very popular?

    I wonder if it could be used more as a learning space? Like, could a teacher take a workshop out there? Are kids allowed out there in general to complete work when they are not with a teacher? I also wonder if this could be used as a “breakout space” for groups wanting to loudly discuss / argue things – they could jump out there, arrange the furniture the way they wanted, and have at it.

    Just some random ideas I had when looking at your observations above! 😀 An interesting task this one isn’t it?

    Reply

    1. Hi Matt,

      Thanks for your comment.

      It is definitely ‘supposed’ to be a learning space- I feel since the portables have been put in this year that it hasn’t been used like that. Also we have there new teachers in that area- some of which are not used to having learning spaces outside the classroom.

      I think the challenge with this space is not just about the physical space but developing the teacher capacity to ‘let go’ and allow their students to work out there as a break out space like you suggested or taking groups out there. At this stage it isn’t that popular with students and I think that may come down to the physical stuff…still mulling it all over!

      This is indeed an interesting task- I must say I enrolled in this degree for a challenge and definitely think I found it in this subject! 🙂

      Thanks for your suggestions!

      Bec

      Reply

  2. This reminds me of my library after lunch! There are ottomans in the wrong spot, chairs not at tables, some students like to put the chairs up as well! The space also reminds me of my library. Can you use another seating format instead of the ottomans? I am looking at getting some booth seating for my library.

    Reply

    1. Hi Ngaire,

      I love the idea of booth seating! Another seating design is definitely a need…

      Reply

  3. hi Bec,
    along the same lines as Ngaire’s comment, I was thinking you might be able to make the space more inviting and comfortable with beanbags or other alternatives for comfortable floor seating? Similar to the article that Megan @meghastie posted on twitter – http://tinyurl.com/oqdyw28

    Reply

  4. Hi Bec,
    Looks like a flexible and fluid space – which we need in schools – but one that isn’t “owned” by anyone, so there is no sense of responsibility for its maintenance and upkeep (eg. Temporary users don’t see the need to collect the rubbish they leave behind after using it? No shared sense of pride in the aesthetics of that space?). It also looks like a high traffic area, and one that is fairly noisy because of its location, so not ideally suited to quiet, reflective type tasks. You’ve found a space that could benefit from some design thinking – “I feel like it is wasted space that could be used better…”
    The design brief created by Walker Technology College (from module 2.3) contained some wise words that may help you as you think about this space: “We do not aspire simply to a well planned physical configuration of facilities but to an ethos, supported by thoughtful design, which signals welcome and self-worth to all who join us”. What kind of ethos underpins this “problem” space currently?

    Reply

    1. Hi Jo,

      That is exactly correct- I wish the kids felt like they ‘owned’ the space…

      After diving in with the immersion task, I am feeling like the problem with the space isn’t even really the space itself…the challenge or problem is changing the assumptions of the teachers- how can I move them from traditional, habitual teaching practices to more innovative and contemporary learning design? I feel like there is so much that could be done…I want them to not just think about substituting learning in the space but redefine how and why it is used…I’m just not sure how to go about that yet…

      Bec

      Reply

  5. Hi Bec,
    I’m a great fan of odd corners, nooks an crannies, they offer lots of creative potential!
    Some great observations by others, and I think, as others are also saying, is that this is a space with a variety of functions. There is the desire that you have for it – to be an engaging learning space, and then there is the practical function it performs – as a convenient shortcut between places. My suggestion would be to clarify what it is you (and others) want out of it – if purely a learning space, then do you need to set it up so traffic moves around and not through it? If you think it can function as both, then again, working out how both needs / functions can be accommodated. The reality is in our workplaces, and especially in schools, many places perform more than one function at a time – and that’s ok. I would imagine part of your role is to clarify how you want that space to be used, and how the stakeholders want it to be used, and work out how to marry all those ideas together…

    Reply

  6. Hi Bec
    It looks like a space that has lots of potential but needs to be re looked at to make it a viable learning space for those involved.
    The main issue is to decided what kind of space it is and whether it is for quiet learning or for movement. If it is for learning, maybe the traffic could be redirected.

    Reply

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