I read blog posts; lots of them! Lately I read one that was challenging the notion that the classroom is the third teacher and way teachers control the space. So this got me thinking!
At the start of this year we asked the students to design their learning space. They spent time drawing, planning, discussing, negotiating, thinking, moving and rearranging furniture. This process has not finished! I know we are seven weeks til the end of the year but the thing is the process is ongoing, because the purpose of the space keeps changing.
Students move tables and seating many times in a day, they create the spaces that work for them within the space that we have; and have done this all year.
We are in PYP Exhibition mode now and each student has created their own office space. They are developing and changing and the students are really invested in making their space work for them. We have asked them to document the evolution of their space over the time span of the unit, and I can't wait to see those film clips in June.
So with a space full of 40 individual offices plus a 'mini' space for group gathering and the 'teacher table (we removed our individual desks to take up less space and share a wooden table), we are really aware of things that don't need to be in the room.
This is the challenge we face.
As teachers we look at the space with different goggles! We have 'stuff', a nicer term is 'resources' or 'materials' that will be used during a unit or maybe two. Things that are left from years gone by, things that have 'never been sorted, donated or simply thrown away'. Things that no student actually uses 'yet'!
Our challenge is to remove the 'visual noise', those things that really don't deserve space in the learning environment; the things that don't have purpose and are there 'just in case'. When 'in case' happens we can source the materials and until then we need to clear space for clearer thinking and less clutter.
So today I challenge myself to start removing the clutter, boxes, books and 'stuff' that is not vital to the learning. To create opportunities that we don't even know that we have restricted with 'visual noise'.
Clear goggles and a more open space is coming soon.
We are about two weeks out from the official start date of our sixth and final unit of inquiry for this school year. It is the eXhibition unit!
At our school we purposefully align our eXhibition unit under the transdisciplinary theme of 'How We Organise Ourselves' and we deliberately place it as the last unit of the school year.
This is my second year of teaching Grade 5 and I started the year with the eXhibition in mind. While I was excited about the journey last year, and I thought I was ready for the student learning and action and the process . . . oh did I learn ... so much more than a workshop could provide; being in the 'fire' meant I was in a constant state of reflection & response. I wasn't new to the exhibition process but like everything that is exciting about teaching and learning the idea of the eXhibition grows and changes depending on so many different factors. There were the 'tomorrow . . .' reflections, and then there were the 'next year...' reflections!
Fast forward . . .we are now looking at the start of exhibition we a team of excited, energised teachers and a group of 38 students who are filled with anticipation. What did we learn from our experience last year. What were those '. . .Next year reflections ?'
We have kept some things; the TD theme, the central idea, most of the unit framework (some tweaks always happen); the positive intent to provide students with the opportunity to take their inquiry on its own pathway; the staging day and presentation space organisation; the idea that students are driving individual inquiries and are collaborating through the process and the belief that what we do we do well. Ok, so we have kept lots of things!
We have tweaked; the way we will integrate experts, connectors and mentors; the documentation of learning; timing and connections with parents; the way we will support our language learners and engage with their parents; the time frame; the integration of P.E. and how the final inquiries in Visual and Performing Arts can connect to the start of the eXhibition.
AND, we have changed; a day out into a Learning Retreat Camp at an eco-resort; the way we connect with our Middle School to embrace the transition initiatives as part of the eXhibition unit; the timetable to increase time and restructured the breaks to align with Middle School schedule; we started planning earlier; we connected with the Grade 10 students during the MYP Personal Project, where students interviewed students with questions about their interests and passions, how they documented their learning and how and why they chose their presentation mode; and our students have had opportunities through the year during 'MyTime2Inquire' to conduct passion/interest based independent inquiries and have reflected, grown and changed as part of the process.
Experience changes the way we look at things but with the balance of a core team that is 50% new and 50% one year in we are looking forward to the process of the eXhibition just as much as our students are . . . or maybe even a bit more!
Sitting on the mat seems to be a measure of something ... I am just not sure what we are measuring when we expect students to sit for extended periods of time listening to one person speak.
Teaching in an IBPYP school; interests: student agency, technology integration, growth mindset & the continuous cycle of improvement that is the world of education, learning and being!