In a large school, differing priorities and perspectives can become challenges and it is hard to develop and maintain the ‘shared schema’ recommended by Bain and Weston (2013). Encouraging colleagues to access available professional learning and to try new pedagogies with technology can also be frustrations. However, one element of our college infrastructure that I think impedes progress and limits opportunity to develop and implement a shared schema is our building design, with silo-oriented staff rooms and traditional classroom spaces. Whilst Flanagan & Jacobsen (2003) do not note attention to physical space as a barrier or recommendation, I think it is a factor that affects, pedagogy and professional development – two of the four identified barriers (Flanagan and Jacobsen, 2003).

 

My first Masters unit was ‘Designing Spaces for Learning’ (INF536) with Ewan McIntosh. Through this unit I realised the potential difficulty of leading change in a school where the spaces provide teachers with little vision outside of their historical classroom experience (Woolner, McCarter, Wall and Higgins, 2011); through their limitation, the majority of senior school spaces reflect and encourage tradition practice. For example, I teach a collaborative, practical subject in a room packed with rows of desks that are too heavy to move. Other rooms are so small, teachers cannot move between students. The nature of the school environment set into the landscape, does not lend itself to open doors, visible practice and visiting colleagues. The school buildings cover a large area and therefore little interaction occurs between staff rooms due to the physical geography.

 

This aspect may be a tangent from the central foci of our readings, however it is a considerable constraint limiting access to informal learning through classroom observation, the exploration of flexible teaching strategies and the development of a shared vision (Bain and Weston, 2013; Petersen, 2014).

 

In terms of a response, planning for retrofitting of spaces could be a useful strategic direction; this is an aspect convincingly advocated by Terry Byers in a recent Design and Play podcast (Brophy and Pearman, 2017). Considering creative solutions for enabling classroom observation within a structured community of practice could have a positive impact on shared professional learning (Muhammad, 2009). Developing further ways of encouraging transdisciplinary learning and interaction between silos could also help to move the school out of what is largely an ‘introverted’ silo-oriented culture (Hadjithoma-Garstka, 2011).

 

References

Brophy, S., & Pearman, D.(2017). Design and play: Episode 4. Retrieved from https://itunes.apple.com/au/podcast/ep-4-interview-with-terry-byers/id1207005111?i=1000383119856&mt=2

Flanagan, L. & Jacobsen, M. (2003),”Technology leadership for the twenty-first century principal”. Journal of Educational Administration, Vol. 41, 2. pp. 124 – 142.

Hadjithoma-Garstka, C. (2011). The role of the principal’s leadership style in the implementation of ICT policy. British Journal Of Educational Technology, 42(2), 311-326. doi:10.1111/j.1467-8535.2009.01014.x

Muhammad, A. (2009). Transforming school culture: How to overcome staff division.Moorabbin: Hawker Brownlow Australia.

Petersen, A. (2014). Teachers’ perceptions of principals’ ICT leadership. Contemporary Educational Technology, Vol.5(4), pp.302-315 [Peer Reviewed Journal]

Woolner, P. McCarter, S. Wall, K. Higgins, S. (2011). Changed learning through changed space: When can a participatory approach to the learning environment challenge preconceptions and alter practice? Paper presented at AERA 2011. Retrieved from http://www.ncl.ac.uk/cflat/news/documents/AERAWoolnerMcCarter.pdf