Community Resilience: Learning from Christchurch

Enroute to Christchurch this morning I picked up a copy of TIME and read this article

Bounce back: Scientists know what some people rebound so well from setbacks. By Mandy Oaklander

The study found that factors like having a tight-knit community, a stable role model and a strong belief in their ability to solve problems helped children success.

Researchers have found that facing the things that scare you relaxes the fear circuitry, making the good first step in building resilience.

Christchurch CathedralOnce at my hotel I took the opportunity in the remaining daylight hours to walk around the city. These words about resilience kept running through my mind. How could this community bounce back after such devastation. Four years later there is both construction underway and destruction still evident. I love my own city of Sydney, and cannot imagine the trauma that the community in Christchurch experienced in 2011.

Having a strong network of social support are critical to resilience – very few highly resilient individuals are strong in and by themselves.

However, despite the evidence of the devastation that occurred, there are shoots of new growth popping up all over the city. Christchurch is calling itself a “Transitional City” with creative and fun pop-up projects.

The ReStart Mall is a great example of this using the ubiquitous shipping container to create a new shopping precinct, with cool shops, food outlets and cafes.

Pop up mall

Food trucks and caravans are scattered around.

Caravan
Quirky over-sized furniture.

Over sized furniture

Urban artworks and refurbished streetscapes.

IMG_5895

I’m here in Christchurch to work with local primary principals. Yet I can already see that there is so much to learn about building community resilience and being able to bounce back as a city. Resilience is an essential life skill. This community will take the devastation that occurred in February 2011 and will emerge with a freshness that could not have occurred otherwise.

Research shows that the way we cope with little stressors strongly predicts how we’ll do once the big stuff hits. (*Richard Davidson, Neuroscientist, University of Wisconsin)

Resilience

@anneknock

Repurposing unlikely spaces for a school: A photo essay

A school doesn’t need to be purpose-built. In Australia, the commonly held view that a new school needs to locate a greenfield site to grow a school. In other parts of the world it is more common to local a disused building, a brownfield site.

Greenfield sites have not previously been built on. This includes the greenbelt land around cities.

Brownfield sites are defined as “previously developed land” that has the potential for being redeveloped

In my travels I have visited some interesting schools. But this week my Danish and Swedish friends tweeted about a school in a disused submarine factory in Malmo, Sweden.  Mia and Jens (@LOOPbz) from Danish design consultancy LOOP, along with Colin (@EDU_Colin) from Ecophon acoustics alerted me to their adventures in a series of Tweets. So I started thinking about this one, and some of the brownfield sites that I have visited. We are heading to Europe and UK again this year (October 2015) for the SCIL Vision Tour.

Malmö Högskola

(These are photos from Colin’s Tweets)

A former submarine factory with imposing post industrial learning spaces. This media school is due to open soon.

Photo: Colin Campbell, Ecophon

Photo: Colin Campbell, Ecophon


Vittra Telefonplan – An old telephone factory in Stockholm

Vittra Telefonplan is one of 30 schools in this Swedish free school system that I visited in 2012. It is a school without walls in this former telephone factory that has created a variety of zones for different types of learning.

Design firm Rosan Bosch describes the brief for the project: When the new Vittra school “Telefonplan” was established in Stockholm, Rosan Bosch created the school’s interior design, including space distribution and distinctive custom-designed furnishings. The interior design revolves around Vittra’s educational principles and serves as an educational tool for development through everyday activities. Link to Rosan Bosch

Vittra Telefonplan


IPACA – Three schools to one campus

In 2014, after the SCIL Vision Tour, we visited the Isle of Portland, in Dorset England, with our friend, Gary Spracklen. Gary is the Director of Change and Innovation at IPACA – Isle of Portland Aldridge Community Academy – the group of schools on the island. The schools are in a process of change as they join and relocate in the disused maritime centre in Portland. “We want to create a small school environment within a big school setting but bring the benefits of a big school as well.” From three schools to one campus. Follow Gary @Nelkcarps to see what great work is happening at the school.

Slide1

A curious fact about the Isle of Portland: If you are ever on the Isle of Portland never say the word “rabbits”…

“Because burrowing can cause landslips in quarries, residents of Portland, Dorset, instead call the creatures underground mutton or furry things.” Accordingly, the W&G publicity will carry the alternative slogan “Something bunny is going on”.

Weymouth and Portland mayor Les Ames illuminates: “If the word rabbit is used in company in Portland there is generally a bit of a hush. In the olden days when quarrying was done by hand, if one of these animals was seen in the area, the quarryman would pack up and go home for the day – until the safety of the area had been reconnoitred. It is an unwritten rule in Portland that you do not use the word rabbit.” (From: theregister.co.uk)


Kunskapsskolan – Swedish Free School System

Since we started taking educators and architect on the SCIL Vision Tour, we have regularly visited Kunskapsskiolan, the system of around 30 school, started in 1999. The design of the schools is undertaken by Chief Architect Kenneth Gärdestad. The schools aim to be open, inviting and spacious, where most of the space is used for learning.

Kunskapsskolan’s schools are typically located in facilities which were originally built for other purposes, i.e. former office buildings, factories or shops. But the architecture, characterised by light, visibility and flexibility, does not only allow for a more effective use of space (the average amount of space per student is between 7-9 m2); it also gives rise to an open and collaborative atmosphere where the idea that every space is a learning space is omnipresent. This concept also gives schools the flexibility to adapt to changing conditions. An office converted into a school could be converted back entirely or partly if demographics or demand were to change. From OECD Report

Kunskapsskolan

The SCIL Vision Tour again this year provides a wonderful opportunity for school leaders and architects to have a first-hand experience of great school designs.

@anneknock

Happy teachers matter: Seven things school leaders can do to create the optimal culture

happy faceWhat are some of the things that make us happy in our work?

  • A sense of a job well done
  • Confidence in our abilities
  • Great people to work with
  • Feeling valued for our efforts
  • Being heard and understood

OECD ReportIn March 2015 the OECD released a report from the International Summit on the Teaching Profession: Schools for 21st Century Learners (2015) by Andreas Schleicher. It identified some good news, and some not-so-good news:

The good news: The most successful education systems are those in countries whose society values the teaching profession.

The not-so-good news: Fewer than one in three teachers believe that teaching is a valued profession in society.

“…their belief in their ability to teach, engage students and manage the classroom – has an impact on student achievement as well as teachers’ own practices enthusiasm and job satisfaction and behaviour in the classroom.”

What can school leader do to enhance teachers’ self-efficacy and job satisfaction?

Balloons

1. Distributed leadership, provides opportunities to participate in decision making at school.

2. Positive interpersonal relationships between teachers and their colleagues and teachers and their students

Good relations between teachers and their colleagues and between teachers and their students can mitigate the negative effects of challenging classrooms…”

3. Meaningful appraisal and feedback that recognises and celebrates teachers’ strengths while simultaneously challenging teachers to address weaknesses in their pedagogical practices.

4. Provide a culture of collaboration among teachers through:

    • jointly teaching the same class
    • observing and providing feedback on other teachers
    • engaging in different classes and age groups
    • professional learning

“The strongest association with teachers’ job satisfaction appears to be participating in collaborative professional learning activities five times a year or more.”

5. Applying a variety of teaching practices, from instructional to constructivist practices.

“The latter [constructivist practices] forms of teaching and learning help to develop students’ skills to manage complex situations and to learn both independently and continuously. It has also been argued that these practices enhance students’ motivation and achievement.”

6. Quality professional development. A focus on the three components of self-efficacy – classroom management, instruction and student engagement  – strengthen their confidence.

7. Capacity to positively handle misbehaving students.

Teachers who spend more time keeping order in the classroom reported lower levels of self efficacy and job satisfaction

This report reinforces what many of us know and believe. When teachers are confident in their abilities, working positively and productively with our peers (and students) and equipped for the job, we build a place where our people want to come to work everyday… because we’re happy!

@anneknock

How do you lead innovation in schools? Step 1: Unlearn some old stuff & Step 2: Learn some new stuff

School leaders – here’s a quick quiz

  • Are you prepared for disruption, mess and opposing viewpoints?
  • Do you think you can successfully challenge the status quo?
  • Can you throw out conventional approaches to leadership?
  • Will you stick to it for the long haul?

Yes? Then read on.

FullSizeRender (1)Making It Mobile is the SCIL signature workshop for educators coming up in a few weeks, held at our school in Sydney. In the practitioner strand the focus is on “teachers as designers”. Alongside this, I am facilitating a parallel workshop for leaders, but I am troubled. What if these amazing passionate teachers are inspired and are keen to innovate in their schools, only to return to the same-old leadership, where innovation needs to fit in a pre-defined box? These teachers will become discouraged and disillusioned. A new leadership paradigm is essential.

On my drive to work this morning I listened to the TEDx talk by Linda Hill: How to manage for collective creativity (Sept 2014). Linda is the professor of business administration at the Harvard Business School. She opened her talk:

FullSizeRenderI have a confession to make. I’m a business professor whose ambition has been to help people to lead. But recently, I’ve discovered that what many of us think of as great leadership does not work when it comes to leading innovation….
If we want to build organisations [schools] that can innovate time and again, we must unlearn our conventional notions of leadership.

These “conventional notions of leadership” are spelt out in the plethora of leadership literature on our actual or virtual bookshelves published over many decades. They tell us that leadership starts with a vision, it rises and falls on the leader to execute strategy and, as many leaders can testify, it is a lonely and stressful business. The prevailing culture is that “the people” look to “the leader” to tell them what to do.

There seems to be two long held beliefs that need to be challenged:

  1. The absolute leader – knows all and tells all
  2. The lowly minion – has no ideas and does what they are told by the absolute leader

Companies like Pixar and Google understand that successful innovation is not about the solo genius, in the same way leading an innovative school or organisation requires a complementary team-based approach. The innovative school needs an innovative leader who creates the environment where:

  • collaboration is the culture
  • problems are opportunities
  • team is the prevailing structure
  • the talents and passions of ‘the many’ can be unleashed
  • diversity and conflict co-exist
  • there is a village or a community

The journey of innovation has an unknown tomorrow, but it starts today with complex and compelling problems that need an answer. To navigate this future the first thing we must do is embark on that journey of unlearning.

The illiterate of the 21st century will not be those who can not read or write, but those who can not unlearn, learn and relearn – Alvin Toffler

@anneknock

Making it Mobile – 2 day workshop
30 April – 1 May
Northern Beaches Christian School, Sydney Australia

Innovating school: Mapping the change journey – 5 priorities identified by the OECD

According to the OECD, these are the three ingredients for innovating schools and systems:

  • Leadership: strong leaders who establish optimal conditions in their schools
  • Teachers: Confident and capable in their practice
  • Culture: An openness to innovation

Schools for 21stC Learners

OECD Report: Schools for 21st-Century Learners: Strong Leaders, Confident Teachers, Innovative Approaches (2015) by Andreas Schleicher,

This document draws from three sources: evidence from TALIS (Teaching and Learning International Survey) and PISA (Programme for International Student Assessment); and the OECD’s ILE (Innovative Learning Environments) project.

Innovating to create 21st century learning environments (Chapter 4)

Innovative Learning Environments- How do you rate on the five key criteria-

Are the environments in which student learn sufficiently innovative?

Innovation in education is not just a matter of putting more technology into more classrooms; it is about changing approaches to teaching so that students acquire the skills they need to thrive in competitive global economies. (p.63)

Preparing young people for this rapidly changing world means that they are required to be continually learning and are adaptable to change, with the commensurate set of skills and competencies.

The OECD report outlined five key areas that strong leaders need to develop in their schools:

1. Regrouping teachers

  • Collaborative planning, orchestration and professional development
  • Collaboration as a tool for sharing best practice
  • Development of professional learning communities
  • Team teaching to target specific learners within a large group
  • Enhanced visibility, to learn from one another, not hidden behind a door

2. Regrouping learners

  • Learners of different ages, encouraging diversity and enabling peer teaching
  • Smaller groups within larger groups
  • Mixing abilities in small working groups

3. Rescheduling learning

  • Flexibility of time and timetabling, fewer and longer sessions in a day
  • Move from the standard subject-based curriculum
  • Establish new routines and rituals
  • Learning outside of regular school hours – face to face and online learning options

4. Widening pedagogical repertoires

  • Inquiry-based learning, acquire knowledge while practising skills
  • Interdisciplinary learning
  • Real life and hands-on experiences
  • Technology-rich environment provides the necessary tools
  • Integrating a menu of teaching and learning options

5. Culture and policies

  • Create communities and build capacities
  • Collaborate and communicate, wider partnerships and connections
  • Create conditions conducive for innovation, strong leadership is essential
  • Ensure coherence, less top-down, more engaging those most involved with teaching and learning

What is your most pressing priority to move toward innovation?

Innovation transition


@anneknock

From the 3Rs to fast-tracking the 3Es: Entrepreneurial Educational Experience in 4 key steps

AusYearEach year on our national day, there are several categories of award for the Australian of the Year. It is an important event, highlighting significant Australians who have made a difference to the lives of others. The Local Hero Award was presented to Juliette Wright, who founded Givit: Goods for good causes. She is described as a social entrepreneur.

Juliette created the portal to ensure quality goods get to where they are most needed by safely connecting and inspiring an online network of givers. Juliette’s vision, hard work and determination have resulted in donations of more than 126,000 items to disadvantaged members of the Australian community. (Australian of the Year: Local Hero testimonial)

As I listened to Juliette’s story on the televised the award ceremony a couple of months ago, I thought about how technology has enabled so many positive initiatives in our society. The scale of the project could only be achieved through technology facilitating this social enterprise.

Educating our students in entrepreneurship to make a difference needs to be a priority for their future, the World Economic Forum: Global Education Initiative: Educating the Next Wave of Entrepreneurs encourages:

Embedding entrepreneurship and innovation, cross-disciplinary approaches and interactive teaching methods all require new models, frameworks and paradigms. It is time to rethink the old systems and have a fundamental “rebooting” of the educational process. Incremental change in education is not adequate, especially in today’s rapidly changing society. We need schools, colleges and universities that are entrepreneurial in their approach to preparing individuals for the future. (p.10)

This quote sums up what we have been talking about for a number of years – Incremental change in education is not adequate – we need big change. It’s more about taking a running jump across a chasm, than going step-by-step down one side of the gully and clambering up the other side. Then I looked at the date of this report – May 2009, six years ago.

What were the tech trends in 2009

  • Apps take off for iphone [v.3] and ipods
  • Twitter goes mainstream
  • Netbook sales climb
  • Mobile phones get satellite navigation

This report was released the year before the iPad and without the saturation of technology and growth in opportunities that we see as everyday in 2015. So what happened? Six years later we are not seeing sufficient widespread change in the entrepreneurial educational experience of a generation of young people. As the report states,

Innovation and entrepreneurship provide a way forward for solving the global challenges of the 21st century, building sustainable development, creating jobs, generating renewed economic growth and advancing human welfare. (p.7)

It is time to make up those six years – 4 key steps (as outlined in 2009):

1. Transform the educational system

It is not enough to add entrepreneurship on the perimeter – it needs to be core to the way education operates…This requires a fundamental rethinking of educational systems, both formal and informal, as well as the way in which teachers or educators are trained, how examination systems function and the way in which rewards, recognition and incentives are given. (p.9)

2. Build the entrepreneurial ecosystem

Entrepreneurship thrives in ecosystems in which multiple stakeholders play key roles.. the need for multi-stakeholder partnerships is critical for education and even more so for entrepreneurship education (p. 11)

3. Strive for effective outcomes and impact

The purpose and goals of entrepreneurship education need greater clarity. They should be based on a broadly defined set of outcomes… Entrepreneurship education is about developing attitudes, behaviours and capacities at the individual level. Inherently, it is about leadership. (p. 11)

4. Leverage technology as an enabler

Throughout the report, the role of technology in delivering entrepreneurship education is evident, particularly in terms of creating greater access and scalability for entrepreneurship education. (p. 11)

In 2015, school education has the capacity to provide a context where the school-age Juliette Wright may have been able to develop her idea. Yet, a commitment to entrepreneurial education is limited to the individual schools who recognise that it is essential to the future of our young people. It needs a systemic response.

“Preparing today’s students for success and eventual leadership in the new global marketplace is the most important responsibility in education today. … Entrepreneurship education is an important tool to achieving these objectives [and ]… should be universally available to provide all students with opportunities to explore and fulfil their potential.” Stephanie Bell-Rose, President, Goldman Sachs Foundation & Thomas W. Payzant, Harvard Graduate School of Education (2008)

Let’s start. There is a bit of time to make up.

@anneknock

Well-designed learning spaces can boost student academic performance: University of Salford, Manchester

The University of Salford in Manchester has gained a reputation for looking at the physical aspects of the learning space and their impact on the quality of learning. In 2013 the project on the sensory impacts on learning found (here):

“almost three quarters of the variation in pupil performance could be attributed to design and environmental factors.  All things being equal, the academic performance of a child in the best environment could be expected to be 25% better than an equivalent child in the “poorest” classroom environment.” 

IMG_1732And next? Over three years the HEAD Project (Holistic Evidence and Design) looked at 153 classrooms in 27 diverse schools in three local authorities in England – Blackpool, London Borough of Ealing and Hampshire. The team looked at sensory factors and multilevel statistical modelling to isolate the effects of classroom design.

One big idea

This year the Clever Classrooms report states:

“Well-designed classrooms can boost learning progress in primary school pupils by up to 16% in a single year.” 

Three characteristics

In the research three physical characteristics were assessed:

  • The role of naturalness – light temperature and air quality
  • The opportunity of individualisation – ownership and flexibility
  • Appropriate levels of stimulation – complexity and colour

Whole school factors, such as size, navigation, specialist facilities and play facilities did notappear to be as significant as the design of the individual learning space.

The findings that led to 16% improvement in students learning progress was attributed to a range of factors across these characteristics. Naturalness accounted for almost 50%, with around 25% each for stimulation and individualisation.

Other considerations, size of the school, provision of shared specialist rooms and scale and quality of external spaces had less impact. The most important factor was that the actual learning space, where the students spend most of their day. This needs to be well-designed.

Seven key elements

The research concluded that learning spaces must be well-designed and narrowed the range of inputs to seven design parameters and with the degree of impact:

  1. Light (21%)
  2. Air quality (16%)
  3. Temperature (12%)
  4. Flexibility (11%)
  5. Ownership (17%)
  6. Colour (12%)
  7. Complexity (11%)

The ZoneA few other factors mentioned in the report: The physical design at the school level was less important. Also, it is easy to over-stimulate with vibrant colours and overly busy displays, however a white box is not the answer, either. In the learning spaces small and cost effective changes can make a real difference, including changing the layout, choice of wall displays and colours of the wall.

It is interesting to note that ‘sound’ was identified as a secondary factor, when it is often raised as a key issue by many. The addition of acoustic treatment, soft furnishings and carpets and rubber feet in furniture was noted in the report.

I appreciate the response from Colin Campbell at Ecophon on the matter of sound and acoustics:

“Good speech communication is vital and increasingly dynamic; no longer the teacher just lecturing (only one person speaking), there is a different acoustic dynamic now with increasing collaboration including whole class interaction and group work. In the traditional classroom and increasingly many other additional spaces are now being used for discussions and engagement in learning. These activities can create an increased burden on the teachers as they must collaborate more and manage / coach the learning in a different way. The quieter and calmer a learning space, the easier it is for teachers to remain proactive in their approach thus empowering more student engagement, positive behaviour and increased possibilities and experimentation for learning. So, the food for thought is to consider the need to prioritise good acoustics for speech communication as the need has never been greater.”

What can we do?

Light
  • Keep windows free of displays
  • Use high quality projectors and screens that are not impacted by light
  • Use plants and planters to reduce too much incoming light
Air quality
  • OPEN WINDOWS!
  • Avoid obstructions to airflow
  • Install CO2 metres
Temperature
  • Be attentive to the temperature of the room
  • Use plants and planters to diffuse windows facing the heat
Flexibility
  • Create well-designed learning zones
  • Consider age appropriate size and shape of zones
  • Provide accessible walls for display
Ownership
  • Consider student ownership of work displays
  • Create a sense of familiarity
  • Allow personalisation to aspects of the learning space
  • Good quality furniture
Complexity
  • Create displays that give a liveliness, without being chaotic
  • 20-50% of the wall space kept clear
  • Avoid displays on windows
Colour
  • Assess the colour elements that remain unchanged
  • Determine how much bright colour can be introduced in other aspects
  • Aim to increase stimulation against a muted background

While this research was focused on primary classrooms, it would be interesting to see how it made a difference to the learning spaces in secondary/high schools.

@anneknock