7 Mar 2017

Working with Teachers and Innovating Our Curriculum

I am going to try and summarise one of the bigger projects I am involved in this year, what we are trying to achieve, what the journey has been like so far, and where we are at currently.
Some of our Planning

I am working with two other teachers in something that resembles the Innovative Learning Spaces that are popping up around the country.  We have a unique campus with the main features being all year 9 boys, boarding, three stranded curriculum (academic, personal and social growth, outdoors).  

Get ready the next paragraph is a bit detaily...

The big change this year logistically is from a 'siloed' programme of academic classes to integrating the four core subjects of maths, english, social studies, and science. Also the cabins (where the boys live) are aligned with this class.  This is just rolled out for one of the four classes on campus, so the three Cabins that myself and my two colleagues coach are the same students that make up the academic class 9A and also go out on outdoor trips together, with some mixing with other students from another class.  This is all a change from a much more mixed up approach of classes, teachers, cabins, and students.

I hope that paragraph makes sense, there is a bit of jargon and confusing timetabley things in there.

The overall purpose of this curriculum innovation is integration.  It provides some fantastic opportunities in the academic programme to integrated between subjects and we are doing this, however the real opportunity for this campus lies in the integration of our three strands of 

  • Academic
  • Personal and Social Growth 
  • Outdoors
We have tried over that last few years to get better this with note taking and passing on of information in various forms and it has enhanced the integration of the strands, we hope to take it to a whole new level.  

The model we are trying makes it really easy to put the individual students learning at the center of the integration.  This is due to the reason that the student and a small number of teachers share the majority of the learning experiences, then as the teachers we are able to pick up where things left off between the strands for a student. 

This can become really powerful for learning related to the Key Competencies.
  • Relating to others
  • Managing Self
  • Participating and Contributing

This is great for the deeper relationships that can develop in the Cabin or on outdoor trips between students and teacher, as we can then leverage them in the class room.  When student step out of their comfort zone in one area, we are there and ready to support and encourage them to do it again in another.

When students set goals in the Cabin about developing their Self Management, the Teacher is better equipped due to the relationship and shared upcoming experiences to support that student to make progress towards that goal.

It has been an exciting journey so far into how we really make the most of this programme.  The most rewarding part for me so far has been the professional relationships and discussions and collaboration that I have been involved with.  We have rewritten the programme several times and are continuing to develop it as our understanding of our goals develop and what the coal face of this thing looks like in our campus.

Some academic Planning

It is a challenge to shift your own paradigm of thinking.  We are all classroom teachers and love engaging in discussion that gets into developing the best classroom pedagogies.  However we have to remind ourselves that while delivering a high quality, high outcome academic programme is essential and important we also need to remember the overarching goal of strand integration and devote time to working on this.

That is enough thoughts for now.  Happy to answer any questions and continue the discussion.

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