Recently members for the LESNW Education Team attended Learning Environments Australasia (LEA) – Regional day out. These one-day events are local, have proved consistently high quality and put architects and educators ‘in the one big room’. It is one event that we always find valuable and would recommend it to any learning community with an interest in how learning and space connect.
This year there were 3 keynotes followed by an afternoon that offered various tours around some very interesting learning sites around Adelaide. The keynotes, as always, offered many take-aways – including an amazing session on ‘building teams’ by Shackleton journey re-enactor Tim Jarvis AM.
Alistair Brown, keynote presenter on the day and inaugural Principal, led a tour of Adelaide Botanic High School in the afternoon – a quite impressive learning environment that utilises as much surrounding public space and facilities as possible. The program for the day gave ample time to delve deeper in to the learning culture and spaces being developed at this site which go well beyond the build cost.
- Be clear about your vision for learning – What is your school’s DNA?
- What is your charter? The why and what of the school
- Make the timetable work to achieve the charter – not be an obstacle to it.
- Allow for deep engaging learning – curriculum is purposefully connected
- Build team, build relationships. ‘Teaching Team’ and ‘Team Teaching’.
Throughout the school tour it was very evident that Alistair’s key messages were being lived out at Adelaide Botanic High School. Some of the evidence of this includes …
- Teachers only work in teams. No teacher teaches alone (it can be done – even in a secondary school with standard teacher to student ratios)
- An experiential, project-based curriculum
- Strong connection with community partners and experts
- Interdisciplinary focus
- Functional innovative learning environments with access to ‘maker spaces everywhere’
- 9.25am – 4pm student day
- 1-hour Teacher Team Meetings every Morning – with absolutely no meetings after school
- Dynamic timetable that is shaped by the intended learning and prevailing pedagogy
Adelaide Botanic High School isn’t a ‘template’ school by any means and the opportunity of a ‘green-field’ school comes along rarely. However, there is much to learn about building learning culture and teams there as well as using space and technology in any context. If you get a chance to visit we would recommend it.