New Junior Precinct Open for Learning in early 2020
Mel Bryden, Assistant Head of Junior School, Dee Why Campus | 15 November 2019
At a recent parent information event, our Head of Junior School, Dee Why Campus, Mr Adam Lear, together with a team of teachers, shared ideas and research that have been driving the planning of the new Junior School Learning Precinct at Dee Why. The Assistant Head of Junior School at Dee Why, Mrs Mel Bryden, spoke about the flexible teaching approach and how it is positioned within the context of LEARNING@STLUKE’S. Here is an excerpt from Mrs Bryden’s address:
“We already do a lot of co-planning, flexible teaching and co-evaluating. Being a two-stream school, Grade partners already work very closely together to plan and facilitate the learning for their students. In early childhood, the communication around students needs to be done very regularly because they change so dramatically from week to week. The children in the earliest years of our School are interested in play and are curious about learning. We know that play-based learning offers children the opportunity to share insights and experiences with each other. They have shorter attention spans and limited ability to focus on one task for an extended period of time. Therefore, they require time to become involved in their own direction of learning through investigation and discovery. In fact, we know that this type of learning actually helps children to focus more because they can very easily become absorbed in what they are doing.
The models that we have been exploring for use in the early stages of schooling really help to structure learning in targeted ways for young children. Teaching in the traditional way - through reading books to a whole class, explicit explanation of key concepts by the teacher, students presenting news to a group of students – these will not go away.
What you might notice more is smaller groups of students working on slightly different activities to suit their needs, more teachers taking an interest in your child’s literacy, numeracy, social and emotional needs and overall growth, the deliberate use of space, furniture, learning areas and interactive displays. Your child might feel that they have more choice in the classroom. They might come home with learning goals that are different to others’ in the class.
Setting up learning as a social pursuit where we gain knowledge from each other, ask for opinions, offer ideas, negotiate and listen – allows students to develop important skills in oracy, interdependence and collaboration. This means that the classroom may appear to be busier with greater levels of interaction between the children and the teachers. In this active classroom, the children are making more decisions, taking more risks (socially and cognitively), they are practicing the skills necessary for later life.
The students will also, in very real time, get to observe teachers working collaboratively. Our teachers are very open to sharing their experiences – both successes and failures and happily gaining insight from their colleagues.
The value of this type of teaching and learning can only benefit all concerned. I encourage you to ask questions as parents and continue to form positive partnerships with us.”