In 2016 it was unacceptable to the Bray Park State High School’s Leadership team that schooling was becoming “a cookie cutter system which continues to try to push square pegs through round roles”. With others Derek noticed student engagement was dropping in the school and identified the structure of some classrooms as being unsuitable learning environments for the modern student. Derek along with other staff made it their business to improve things for the learners at his school and set about to make positive change.
Derek and fellow staff introduced Enquiry Based Learning through the New Pedagogies for Deeper Learning initiative at their school with a focus on classroom practices that use real-life problem solving to help all students identify their talents, purpose and passion. They saw student engagement as the main objective with student voice being a key to success.
Derek combined his class with other teachers classes to create team teaching environments that allowed freedom of movement and the selection of appropriate learning levels. They had a modelling area (highly guided), a guided area (for independent work with help close by) and an application area (for highly independent work with mentoring).
Together with his colleagues, Derek would pose a statement or problem that sparked a learning journey. Students would move through solution-focussed learning and then produce a product of change. At the end of each unit of work the learning artefacts were showcased and kids were given opportunities to explain their thinking.
In 2016 two full cohorts of Year 7 and 8 students and two Year 9 classes were positively and directly impacted by the group’s change project. Tens of stories emerged from the enhanced learning program, but we love this one in particular.
“One of our SEP students who’s usually really disengaged and who often refuses to work with her teacher aides was in the new learning environment. She was drawing in class one day and as I walked past she quickly closed her book, thinking she might be about to get into trouble. I highlighted her drawing skill and encouraged her to use her talent to complete her project. She ran out to her bag and grabbed her large art book to show me. She asked if she could use some of the work she’d already done. We photocopied the artwork and she built her project around it. She even asked her aide to help her with finding additional information. This project was the first piece of work she’s ever fully completed in the 2.5 years I’ve been teaching her.”
Like the idea?
Derek would love your support for Enquiry Based Learning through New Pedagogies for Deeper Learning, or for you to start a similar program in your school, and he’d love to hear about any ideas you have or lend a hand where he can. Shoot an email to firstname.lastname@example.org if you want to get in touch with Derek and we can connect you. Feel free to cheer him on in the comments below as well.
#WhatChangeLooksLike #ECStories #EduChange