Based on my discussions in completing this exercise, I consider that an ideal learning environment must be an effective combination of pedagogy, interaction, engagement and space. These elements are entwined and the end result of teaching without all aspects may be that learning does not happen. Due to time constraints, I have approached this task in three ways to work towards the requirements. Firstly, I held a meeting with my colleagues, including people in a range of positions, curriculum areas and non-teaching staff. Our college has quite isolated spaces and faculty staffrooms across a geographically large campus and therefore, conversations about learning with multi-disciplinary perspectives would not normally happen. Secondly. I brainstormed ideas with my Year 12 class and finally I asked my Facebook friends to describe their thoughts about ideal learning spaces, including a wide range of respondents. I then put together some of the comments in a video (link below) and had fun learning to video edit in the process.

Collated below are the ideas that came out of these three settings:

Issues that inhibit effective use of space to promote learning:

  • ‘Commander control’ structure (Juliet ICT coordinator) – staff even sit in rows in staff meetings – traditional practice sticks
  • Immovable furniture and immobile technology
  • Good teaching often occurs out of site, not on display for colleagues to learn from Bridget AP
  • “You can’t just throw kids into an empty space” – training and preparation are needed. Sally – Arts
  • Some staff take ownership of flexible spaces, others feel unwelcome to use unless timetabled in to space as a classroom.
  • Students largely prohibited from using spaces independently.
  • Other issues that can affect learning – physical discomfort, poorly resourcing, cluttered/cramped spaces

 Ideal learning spaces might be:

  • Welcoming, warm, safe, clean, uncluttered, large, well-ventilated, free from distractions, encouraging, inspiring, recognise learning of students with display, easy access to resources, effective working technology, different depending on student and activity, feel good, visually appealing, allow for flexibility and space to suit specific activities.

 Ideas for improving teaching and learning spaces

  • Break flexible areas with study ‘nooks’ for small group work with access to technology (Pat – graphic designer)
  • Make use of wall space for investigation and display of ideas; idea paint, magic whiteboards, pens on glass etc
  • Make opportunities to learn from one another (Sally – Arts Coordinator)
  • Work with college visible learning survey findings to plan PD and improvements of which teachers can take ownership (Brad AP Curriculum)
  • Enable more opportunities for team teaching in flexible spaces.
  • Through a peer observation process and/or student survey, identify individual teacher strengths in order to showcase effective strategies in teaching and learning through in-house PD  (Sally, Brad, Kath)
  • Combine practice and develop cross faculty teams to develop curriculum offerings that feature greater collaborative processes as well as structured opportunities to diversify learning (Kath – Year Coordinator and Anthony – RE and design teacher)
  • Listen to the student voice (Kath T&L)
  • Technology at SCC needs to become more mobile
  • Consider what needs to change to promote learning, then consider spaces to align with needs.

 Outcome

My colleagues were excited about the meeting at school and are keen to organise further opportunities to discuss creative ideas and plan for the future.

Accompanying video:  Lisa’s INF536 Creative Discussions

Comments added to other’s blogs:

Liz: http://thinkspace.csu.edu.au/lizcrowder/2014/09/20/blog-task-4-creative-coffee-morning/#comment-18

Bec: http://thinkspace.csu.edu.au/becspink/2014/09/20/a-mini-creative-coffee/#comment-54

Greg: http://gregmiller68.com/2014/09/17/creative-afternoon-tea/comment-page-1/#comment-351