Prototyping for new spaces at Tai Tapu School
One of Canterbury’s older schools, Tai Tapu School will celebrate their 150th jubilee in 2017. In 2016, the school was provided with a new learning space to replace ageing buildings and to cater for its steady roll growth. A second stage build is planned for 2018. Principal Andrew Barker and his leadership team wanted to ensure everybody in the school community was involved in the rebuild process. This included:
- encouraging staff, student and family (whānau) participation in the creation of the new learning spaces and ways of working together;
- giving people opportunities to innovate, take risks and be creative as they move into new teaching and learning environments.
Andrew shares the school’s highlights and key learnings from this journey.
Leadership of change
The leadership team supported staff (including teacher aides and administration), students and their community to explore reasons why changes in teaching and learning were occurring. This included:
- exploring and acknowledging different people’s perspectives and ideas around teaching and learning;
- looking at how new spaces support a collaborative and innovative approach to teaching and learning;
- visiting other schools to see collaborative practice in action.
Family (whānau) engagement was key and the school provided information in a variety of ways. This included parent information nights with access to external expertise and regular newsletter updates. This provided opportunities for:
- people to discuss ideas and concerns about the rebuild process;
- staff and students to share teaching and learning ideas and experiences.
Teachers and students were given time and opportunities to prototype collaborative teaching and learning practices prior to moving into their new learning spaces. This included:
- designing, planning and trialling different ways of working together;
- testing, reflecting, iterating and refining prototypes.
As a result of prototyping, innovative systems and processes were developed and staff had opportunities to develop greater collegial relationships. Ongoing collaboration is now supported by team agreements. Each team also has a collaborative inquiry to explore and improve on their approach to teaching and learning.
Authentic student engagement
Students were involved extensively in the rebuild process. They had input into the types of learning spaces they thought they would need to support their learning. This included ideas around sound quality and systems, the use of breakout spaces and digital technologies to support learning. Students also worked with staff to develop ideas and models for collaborative practice.
The supporting role of digital technology was extensively explored, with a focus on Google Apps for Education. Opportunities for peer collaboration were enhanced using these tools. Students have increased agency with their learning and are empowered to contribute extensively to their learning programme.
The transition to new teaching and learning spaces has been well supported by the strategies that Tai Tapu used to prepare for their move. Teachers who are still in older spaces continue to prototype in preparation for the Stage 2 build. Reflection and refinement in response to teacher, student and community voice is ongoing and continues to inform the journey of collaborative practice.