We are here to instruct, encourage, engage and inspire your children in a teaching and learning environment that is dynamic and meets the individual needs of your children while giving them the skills to be independent, inquisitive and skilled lifelong learners. Your child's needs and education are paramount to us. We understand you have many questions about the space and how it will benefit your child’s education. We hope this information will help to alleviate any concerns and give clarity about the way the space is used and why.
Why do we have flexible learning environments at NMPS?
Our whole school data has shown that cohorts that experience flexible learning environments achieve significant growth above and beyond the excellent results already achieved in stand alone classrooms.
Working as a team and having 4 teachers with 100 students allows us to target and individualise the needs of all students. We are able to differentiate, target and extend the learning of all students through collaboration and common goals. As stated in our schools mission we provide rich and evidence based practices, we do not use flexible learning because our spacing issue but because research and our own data show increased outcomes. As educators our aim is to prepare students for the world in which they will live, learn and grow, in order to do this we can no longer teach in a 19th century way. The flexible learning environment reflects current DEECD research and knowledge on 21st century teaching and learning practices which helps to prepare students for the skills they will need in the future such as collaboration, communication, critical thinking, problem solving, character, citizenship and creativity. The overall aim and purpose is to improve student learning outcomes.
How do students learn in a 'flexible learning' environment?
It is empowering for students to understand themselves as learners and have control and responsibility over where they learn. In a flexible environment students build independent learning behaviours and develop a strong understanding of themselves as learners. At our school students are given the opportunity to take advantage of both indoor and outdoor learning environments and the space enables students to work in a variety of ways and areas. Students can move around, work at tables, on the floor, in small groups, on stools as well as standing. We are working with all students in an ongoing capacity to help them build their skills in independence and understanding of themselves as learners and how they learn best.
What is the space and how is it used?
Flexible learning areas can be rearranged to create distinct learning areas utilizing retractable walls and quiet withdrawal spaces both upstairs and downstairs. Already, students are gravitating toward areas and seating arrangements where they feel most comfortable. These zones are utilised in a variety of ways both student and teacher led.
We use the space and vary our instruction and learning activities based on the needs of our students and the content being covered. Students are not required to sit on the floor any more than in any class in the school. We aim to keep our ‘mini lesson’ explicit instruction time to a maximum of 10 minutes as research shows this is optimal timing for instruction. As part of our schools instructional model, we have students interact with the information or task presented in many different ways but generally by moving into working spaces that suit them and their learning styles, after students have interacted with the learning activity either individually, in groups and/or with a teacher they will return to the floor to reflect on their learning. We regularly conference with our students and we discuss seating and working arrangements, if a student has not chosen an appropriate space for them we will conference with them about it. We understand that this cohort are new to flexible learning and we as a team work together everyday to alter and adapt our programs to suit them and their learning needs.
What does a typical day look like in a 'flexible learning' environment?
Every day begins in classroom groups with designated teachers (except when they have specialists first session). This “home group time” is when rolls are marked and students and teachers touch base.
A few examples of the main ways we use the space:
Whole group instruction and 'proximal development' zones
At times it may be a large communal area that accommodates our four classes together. Students sit in the viewing area to receive their mini lesson and more explicit skill-based instruction with modelling. Then they either choose where to sit for the learning activity or have to make a judgment based on their degree of capacity and comfort with working on the concept or skill. Once a concept or skill has been taught or shown, students can then make a decision about the best place for them to complete the learning activity.
Zone 1 if they feel they need more help with explicit small group instruction, zone 2 if they feel fairly confident but may need to ask some questions and zone 3 if the student feels very confident and would like to be challenged further. Teachers guide and encourage students towards changing zones if we feel they are struggling or not being extended enough. This “zoning” ties in with our goal to build independent learning behaviours and have students’ understand themselves as learners and build their capacity to recognise areas of need.
Students receive instruction and work within their homegroup space.
Why are there not enough desks and chairs for all students?
Currently we have a range of seating options available to students, however we notice that students are deciding to work in ways that suit them best and there are always seats spare and available. Also with the way we work not all students will need to have a table and chair all at the same time.
Research and resources
Please find below a link to the DET research on flexible learning spaces.