As a school with the vision 'Immersed in Learning', we continually challenge ourselves to take every opportunity to tweak, change, and adapt our practice to better meet the needs of our learners. We now know more than we ever have about how the brain develops and what key elements support children to learn the appropriate skills and concepts to be successful in this fast-changing modern world. This, alongside seven weeks of unforeseen distance learning work thanks to COVID-19 has given us the opportunity to consider the structures we have in place and question whether they are reflective of current research and best practice.
Research shows that children need the opportunity to develop their own agency around their learning. Learning should be designed in ways that allow students to develop their ability to make choices, access a range of environments, and be active participants in their learning (Elmore, 2016). When learners have the power to be active in making decisions about their learning, intrinsic motivation, creativity, higher-order thinking, and overall achievement tend to increase (Toshalis & Nakkula, 2012).
We are excited to introduce a slight tweak to our timetable across the school. Our intention is to extend the learning and play opportunities beyond the classroom walls and better utilise not only our physical environment but the skillset of our wider staff team to support learning. This will mean for an extended period of the day there will be a number of teachers in the role of a Learning Coach outside.
We are providing children with a flexible timetable that better supports their natural learning rhythm. We want to provide children with multiple learning opportunities daily and some choice and control over how and where they learn while being firm in the knowledge that ‘opting out’ is not an option. We have systems and structures in place to ensure that all children's needs are being catered for and met. Core curriculum subjects and skills are highly valued and taught as part of every learning programme across the school. Where and when necessary, or appropriate, additional support with a slightly more structured approach may be developed alongside whanau, i.e. visual timetables.
In trying to understand how your child’s learning may be structured you sometimes have to dig a little deeper into their classic answer of “I did nothing today” or “I just played all day”
Ask your child how their day is structured?; What do they like about it? How does it help them learn?; What thinking did they do as they played?
Below is a short 16-minute video from world-renowned educationalist Sir Ken Robinson that will help you frame up an understanding of why we think these questions and considerations around learning are important. Please take the time to watch it.
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