Innovating Education 101: From hierarchical to collegial leadership #innovatorsmindset

Just like the shift from the factory model of schooling, leadership in education (and in life) is transitioning from command and control, centralised power to shared and collegial model. The innovation trajectory of Atlassian, originally an Australian start-up, is remarkable and it has topped the BRW best place to work. Atlassian understands the idea of change and agility:

“When I hear companies say they want to preserve their culture, I get worried because those things will always evolve with the people you add,” said Jeff Diana, the chief people officer.

IMG_1990Nothing stands still. Innovate or perish, or at least kill-off that spark of curiosity within every child starting school.

I’m enjoying reading George Couros’ book The Innovators Mindset: Empower Learning, Unleash Talent, and Lead a Culture of Creativity, published just a few months ago. He wrote:

If we want innovative students we need innovative educators

And add to that, if we want innovative educators we need innovative leaders.

Past (and even present) practices and approaches are unsuited to future aspirations. Think about successful companies and ideas that have broken or disrupted existing models:

Uber vs Taxi monopolies

Airbnb vs Hotels

Netflix vs Pay TV & Free-to-air TV

itunes vs Video stores

Kodak vs digital/phone cameras

Disruption often takes most of us by surprise. 10 years ago free-to-air TV schedules dictated our viewing choices, quality drama was meted out on a weekly basis. Today, networks are struggling with the options available (realistically, to capture the advertising dollar) and need to rely on sport and reality/game shows to keep the populace tuning back each week.

The Collins Dictionary word of the year 2015 is binge-watch and aptly describes our viewing habits today. We no longer wait for the TV networks to tell us what and when to watch it.

The age of innovation therefore, requires new leadership. In Australia, our public broadcaster, the ABC, has just appointed a new General Manager -Michelle Guthrie. For many the ABC is a much-loved and culturally-protected public institution, TV without advertisements, supported by taxes and accountable to the Australian people. Ms Guthrie comes from Google and before that other commercial pay-TV networks. While the ABC has been a leader in streaming its digital services, it’s ongoing competitive prospects are not so certain. There is likely to be disruption in order to innovate, she did work for Google after all.

Whatever the industry, leading innovation requires a new mindset to be able to cast the vision, chart the course and bring people along. But what is essential is shifting thinking and, as Couros calls it, embrace the innovator’s mindset.  Innovative students, taught by innovative educators require innovative leaders to kick start and maintain the forward -thinking culture. It requires educational leaders to leave some things behind and to embrace a new way of working, thinking and relating. 

So with respect to Bill Ferriter’s What do kids want to do with technology? graphic (along with Couros’ own iteration), I’ve further hacked concept:

Slide1.jpg
@anneknock

 

Innovating Education 101

(This has been prepared to share as a resource for a talk I recently gave.)

The key to change is developing strategy by asking three simple questions…

  1. Where are we now?
  2. Where do we need to be?
  3. How do we get there?

When I was in school it was like this:

  • One teacher for each class
  • Everyone facing the frontSlide23
  • Students grouped according to chronological age
  • School day chunked into 40 minute slots
  • Bells and schedules to organise the day
  • Teacher and textbooks knowledge authority
  • Command and control to maintain order
  • Stand and deliver to impart content
  • Limited computer access

But wait, isn’t that the experience of many children today?

It is true that for many young people their school experience is much the same as someone who finished school in 1978. This model of education was designed for the industrial era. Pragmatic thinking, preparing students for that ‘job for life’ with a finite set of skills. The 21stC is a different era altogether – it’s open, shared, collaborative, creative, entrepreneurial. The OECD report mentioned below says that the kinds of skills that are “the easiest to teach are also the easiest to automate, digitise and outsource”.

Changing the nature of an institution like school is the same as turning around an ocean liner, but if that vessel was headed for danger, no matter how difficult, how long it took, it’s worth turning it around for the sake of the passengers.

In the same way, turning around education is also worth it for the passengers – the future of our young people depends on it. The world has changed. Life outside of school in connected, it’s in real time and, while there are risks and concerns, there are also immense opportunities. If we can provide the optimal learning environment, if we can engage young minds in the joy of learning.

A new set of skills and rethinking the learning environment is necessary. Here’s what others say what is required:

None of this underplays the need for a rigorous curriculum and an emphasis on literacy and numeracy remain a priority. It is not so much the ‘what’ but the ‘how’. Engaged learners are hungry to acquire skills and seek out the resources they need, especially when the learning coincides with their passions.

What we do need to focus on, as Sir Ken Robinson has pointed out in his most recent book Creative Schools: Revolutionising Education from the Ground Up, we need to focus on the art of teaching and identify what is worth knowing (not just for the test). He also outlines eight competencies: curiosity, creativity, criticism, communication, collaboration, compassion, composure, citizenship.

At Northern Beaches Christian School we have embarked on this journey, under the visionary leadership of Stephen Harris. We are seeking to create a learning environment that is relevant to a changing context. Like many schools around the world, we see the need to radically disrupt the existing paradigm. We think about school as three spaces: cultural, physical and virtual.

What is normally associated with “school” is put under the microscope to determine its relevant in a changing world. Not everything goes out the window, after all, we still need to prepare our students for an external 3 hour handwritten exam. The basics of education matter. NBCS has 1300 students and the academic achievement of the 2015 final year students has exceeded our expectations.

At NBCS the disruption includes:

  • Rethinking the school day – 4x 75minute learning sessions
  • Shared learning spaces – about 80% across the school
  • Shared staff and staff-student spaces. Even the principal shares “an office” with 10 others
  • Cross-curricula learning
  • No bells
  • Non-typical school design and furniture
  • Focus on quality relationships – everywhere!
  • Professional-like spaces for creative subjects

FullSizeRender (1).jpgIt’s a school that in many ways doesn’t look like a school. (Click the pic to see a video).

 

Where to start? One simple thing is to start to change mindsets. Stop saying I have taught. Instead change the focus, ask…

Have they learnt?

@anneknock

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

5 reasons why cultivating creativity in a crazy world is a non-negotiable

 


Slide1Many have watched Brene Brown’s TED talks on the Power of Vulnerability and Listening to Shame. Last week I was travelling down the rabbit warren of finding a new e-book on Amazon, when I came across Brene Brown’s The Gifts of Imperfection: Let Go of Who You Think You’re Supposed to Be and Embrace Who You Are, a guide to wholehearted living. It deals with the cheery topics of shame and vulnerability
Each guidepost addresses things like letting go of: what people think, perfectionism and the need for certainty, and cultivating: authenticity, self-compassion and, intuition and trusting faith. I’m about halfway through… yet to face letting go of “Being Cool and Always in Control and Cultivating Laughter, Song and Dance – I guess she left that guidepost as last for a reason.

This morning “Cultivating Creativity/Letting go of Comparison” stopped me in my tracks, enough to pause and reflect here. Brown writes:

Let me sum up what I’ve learned about creativity from the world of Wholehearted living and loving:

 

  • “I’m not very creative” doesn’t work. There’s no such thing as creative and non-creative people. There are only people who use their creativity and people who don’t.
  • The unique contribution that we will ever make in this world will be born out of creativity.
  • If we want to make meaning we need to make art. Cook, write, draw doodle, paint, scrapbook, take pictures, collage, knit, rebuild an engine, sculpt, dance, act, sing – it doesn’t matter. As long as we’re creating, we’re cultivating meaning.

Creativity, which is the expression of our originality, helps us stay mindful that what we bring to the world is completely original and cannot be compared.

I realised that to make a difference in the world, or at least in my small part of it, cultivating creativity is essential. Yet in the busy-ness of life, it seems like a luxury. If I want to find solutions to big problems and become my authentic self, I need to stay mindful that what we bring to the world is completely original and cannot be compared.”

5 reasons why cultivating creativity in a crazy world is a non-negotiable:

  1. Not just for arty-types, it’s unique within all of us
  2. Enhances our leadership to bring new ideas to old problems
  3. Helps us to live without comparison – therefore no meaning to ahead or behind, best or worst
  4. It is the essential ingredient of design (and design-thinking)
  5. Brings us closer to our authentic self

So what now? I guess there might be a bit more mess around the house. Just don’t tell the other half!

@anneknock

10 ideas to encourage an entrepreneurial mindset at school

What the future holds

There are immense opportunities for this generation of students. Demographer Bernard Salt found that the development of new technology also creates new opportunities for entrepreneurs: Connectivity will impact on all types of jobs, even those not strictly in the technology space – but they will make greater use of technology.

According to  Salt a culture of entrepreneurialism is being driven by the rise of new technology and digital disruption. Over the last 10 years in Australia 3.3 million jobs have been created and 300,000 jobs have been lost. (Jobs of the Future: How safe is your occupation? SMH 6 Sept, 2015). The job growth areas:

The care givers

The technocrats

The specialist professions (Including teachers, phew!)

The doers

The creatives

Becoming future-focused at school

Are schools taking advantage of the breadth of career opportunities for young people?

Is there a fixed mindset in the structure and organisation of school as if nothing has changed?

Who is making the choices for technology? The educators, the techies or the persuasive sales-people? 

NBCSThe key is being open and willing to embrace the opportunities of a changing world. Creativity flourishes within the context of constraints. There are conditions that must be maintained, including: academic rigour, standards, student safety and the joy of learning.

So rather than see the world either/or, how do we embrace the both/and to encourage an entrepreneurial mindset? To meet community expectations AND create the context for entrepreneurs to flourish.

10 ideas to encourage entrepreneurs at school – creating the context

  1. Skills – Rethinking the timetable and schedule
  2. Time – Ideas take time to mature.
  3. Creative spark – Knowing and applying the conditions that encourage creativity (and avoiding what kills it)
  4. Drive and determination – There is a necessary stick-to-it-iveness for success as an entrepreneur
  5. People-oriented – Collaboration and empathy are essential
  6. Marketing mindset – Shaping ideas/products/services that people need
  7. Space and environment – Inspiring creative work through considering the physical space
  8. Savvy – Thinking ahead of the curve, anticipating needs and opportunities
  9. Technology – The enabler to for so many opportunities
  10. External expertise – Engaging mentors and specialists to help shape ideas

We are not doing our students any favours by insisting on maintaining a model of learning and method of assessment that reflects past expectations.

The world is open.
Opportunities exist.
Learning will always matter.
Great teachers are essential
But school may need to look a little different.

@anneknock

CEFPI Study Tour 2016

Where shall we go?

24th Jan – 3rd Feb, 2016
Finland – Denmark – Sweden – Netherlands
Schools – Universities – Libraries – Museums – Workplaces

02For the past five years I have organised and hosted numerous study tours for educators and designers – both outbound (to Eu/UK) an inbound tour for North Americans (to AU/NZ). I am excited to organise the first CEFPI Australasia Regional Tour to Europe early 2016.

Since organising these tours I have established a network of wonderful hosts and extensive local knowledge that are the ingredients of a unique professional learning experience. As one principal said about a previous tour:

“This is learning you can’t get from conferences and seminars.”

The tour focuses on learning and working, places that inspire and challenge mindsets. We plan to be in Scandinavian countries in winter – a truly unbelievable experience. Here are some of the highlights:

Schools 
HellerupCopenhagen is known for style and design. Hellerup
School has distinctive features include a central auditorium-style stairway, which also acts as an informal meeting place. It has a mix of large and small rooms to allow individual and group work and its staff mostly teach in teams. The design was a collaboration between Jens Guldbaek from the architecture firm LOOP, educators and the wider school community.


Orested GymnasiumAlso in this city is a new urban development at Orested, with its striking school. The Senior College, Primary and Middle School. along with the community’s library has been co-located. The Senior College, or “Gymnasium” was designed by 3XN.

Communication, interaction and synergy were characteristics of the design brief. The intention was to provide an environment that enables the students’ abilities gradually to take responsibility for own learning, able to work in teams as well as working individually.

KunskapsskolanKunskapsskolan – A system of more than 30 Swedish free schools, which has now expanded to UK, US and India.

“Kunskapsskolan´s goal is to establish, operate and develop schools where every student is recognized as a unique individual with the ability, ambition and support to learn and grow beyond what she or he thought was possible.”

Kenneth Gärdestad, chief architect, has been responsible for the designing and reshaping of all buildings since the start of Kunskapsskolan. The schools are modern and innovative, open, inviting and spacious. They are characterised by bright colours, natural light and an abundance of glass.  

UniversitiesDesign Factory

Design Factory at Aalto University …is the symbiosis of the state-of-the-art conceptual thinking and cross-disciplinary hands-on doing. It leads a way towards a paradigm shift in education and business by providing a constantly developing collaboration environment for students, researchers and business practitioners.

The Design Factory seeks to develop creative ways of working enabling interdisciplinary interaction to support world-class product design in educational, research and practical application contexts. The mission is to develop a passion-based student-centric learning culture for the Aalto University.

LibrariesTU Delft – Two libraries in one country. The beautiful town of Delft is less than an hour by train from Amsterdam. The city is known for its historic town centre with canals, Delft Blue pottery, painter Johannes Vermeer and the Delft University of Technology (TU Delft). The university commissioned Mecanoo to design a library that would be the heart of the university.

DOKNearby in the heart of Delft is DOK, the community library, part of a building that was formerly a blast-furnace and then a supermarket. The design includes a glass roof that runs the entire width. The library calls itself a ‘library concept centre’  which is evident in design and layout as well as in the organisation of the library’s activities.

Science centres and museumsScience Centre – What happens when we are free to explore, become distracted and inquisitive. Some of the best museums and science centres in the world attract learners of all ages with exciting exhibitions and hands on learning experiences. What would happen if school learning became more like these active learning environments.

Den Bla PlanetNational Aquarium Denmark, Den Blå Planet, designed by 3XN, was awarded 2013 RIBA European prize. The architecture was inspired by the circulating currents of the whirlpool. From the entrance, the visitor steps into the vortex of the whirlpool – the round lobby – and is drawn inside the spiral towards the 53 aquariums and installations.


NEMONemo Science Centre in Amsterdam was designed by Renzo Piano, and is an excellent example of science learning fun. It is located within the renewal of Oosterdok, East Dock. It contains five floors of hands-on science exhibitions and is the largest science centre in the Netherlands. It attracts annually over 500,000 visitors.

Heuraka Science Centre is run by the Finnish Science Centre Association. Its mission is to share enthusiasm for learning within an environment for inspiration, with world class exhibitions and visitor experience.

What’s next?
1. Clear your diary for 24 Jan to 3 Feb
2. Visit the Events page on the CEFPI website and scroll down to:  CEFPI Study Tour 2016. My contact details are there for any questions.
3. Join us!

Finland

Insight for schools: Trends in university learning space design, big shift from lectures to collaborative learning

For many school-based educators, one of the justifications for maintaining a traditional teacher and content focused culture is the need to prepare students for university. But what if universities are changing.

MUSE  Macquarie University

MUSE at Macquarie University

There are many examples of tertiary institutions that understand the need for change. Information, lectures and resources can be accessed online, so why would they need to come into university. The MUSE at Macquarie University (pictured) is the transformation of the former library of the 1960s into learning commons and now more students are on campus, they have a place to go.

It has been interesting to read the chapter: The Further and Higher Education Campus in Design for the changing education landscape (2014) by Andrew Harrison and Les Hutton. There is significant insight for the school education sector from what is happening at the tertiary level.

The examples in this chapter are in a process of philosophical shifts, from tutor/lecturer focused, front facing classes toward collaborative and active learning environments. The Active Learning Center at the University of Minnesota noted the difference in the behaviour of a professor in the two different learning modes. In the traditional rooms there was more lecturing and the professor remained at the lectern. The open space approach showed more discussion, movement throughout the space and greater consultation with individuals and small groups.

From: Design for the changing education landscape (2014) Andrew Harrison and Les Hutton.

Before and After at Melbourne University From: Design for the changing education landscape (2014) Andrew Harrison and Les Hutton.

The lecture theatre has limited cut-through and is increasingly inconsistent with the modes of learning that students need in the technology rich environment. It is not uncommon for students to stream lectures to their device, rather than sit in the lecture theatre. Physics lecturer, Eric Mazur realised how ineffective the lecture was for gaining knowledge and understanding. He discovered that this was better achieved through discussion and student-to-student explanation. In the article in Harvard Magazine,  Twilight of the Lecture: The trend toward “active learning” may overthrow the style of teaching that has ruled universities for 600 years, he says,

It’s no accident that most elementary schools are organised that way. The reason is, that’s how we learn. For some reason we unlearn how to learn as we progress from elementary school through middle school and high school. And in a sense, maybe I’m bringing kindergarten back to college by having people talk to each other!”

We can better prepare our students for further learning by considering these elements in the design of school, especially in terms of the three learning landscapes – physical, virtual and cultural.

The City – the campus as a learning communityManhattan and the City at NBCS

Alongside designated places for learning, we begin to see the entire campus as a learning landscape, identifying the spaces in-between. Movement areas are designed as part of the overall landscape. The balance of formal and informal settings is changing as students are required to be more self-directed. In many schools, valuable real estate is taken up by herding cattle along corridors. We can consider how these transition spaces can be exploited. Food is also important, more than just fuel, it is a catalyst for connection. But quality of the food and design of the setting matters.

Informal and Social Learning Spaces 

Primary school in Copenhagen

Primary school in Copenhagen

Mobile technology is the enabler that make informal spaces work for learning. They are usually outside the classroom, adjacent to eating and gathering spaces. Designed for both staff and student to co-locate, supporting the notion of a pervasive learning community. Social hubs are designed to suit each institution’s unique needs and culture.

Furniture Layout 2012-10-10 12.40.08 copy

Round tables encourage collaboration and quickly create a community of
learning. The students are forced to look at each other, changing the relationship amongst the classes. Allowing for different furniture types and multiple arrangements encourage collaborative and group based learning.

Libraries

A contentious subject for many schools. When learning resources are available digitally and students can almost carry a library on their device, the libraries can serve as information commons. The place where the digital learning environment can be managed. The lines are blurring between the learning commons, technology spaces, social/food spaces and information spaces. There can be sanctuaries for concentration and reflection alongside the collaborative and group settings, providing for different needs and a variety of settings for learners

TU Delft Library

What’s your metaphor?

As I explore this subject the importance of creating a metaphor for the spaces recurs. Ownership, codes of behaviour and a simple description in the shape of a metaphor can communicate the complex in a simple way. Here are some examples I recorded as I read Harrison and Hutton. What do you think they are describing?

  • City and the streets
  • Front Porch
  • Cul-de-sac
  • Den
  • Hive
  • Club
  • Cell
  • Home

No standing still

Learning is changing as society changes. Gaining knowledge and understanding in a digital and globally connected world requires a new mindset. We can stick to tried and tested ways, claim that the pendulum always swings back again, but I haven’t seen many pendulum clocks anywhere other than a museum. The world has changed and thankfully the place where learning occurs is evolving.

@anneknock

Design for the Changing Educational Landscape

Designing spaces for learning: 10 questions to STOP asking and 10 questions to START asking for choice, flexibility & connection

Design for the Changing Educational LandscapeCurrently I am reading Design for the Changing Educational Landscape: Space, Place and the Future of Learning (Harrison & Hutton). The book was published in 2014 and cites research and white papers dating back to the early 2000s. People were having the conversations then, the same ones that we are having now. A quote in the book is from the Design Council (UK) “Learning Environments Campaign Prospectus: From the Inside Out Looking In” (2005)

The 2005 research showed low quality, standardised and institutional classroom environments and resources are not just uninspiring, they actually:

  • reduce the range of teaching and learning styles possible and affect interaction between teacher and student
  • undermine the value placed on learning
  • fail to adapt to individual needs
  • hinder creativity
  • are inefficient
  • waste time and effort
  • cost more in the long term

Too often the imperative of the urgent and the need to meet the budget stops school leaders from stepping back to ask the right questions. So instead they default to what schools have always done, perhaps based on the expectations of parents, governors or media.

10 Questions to stop asking:

  1. What buildings do we want?
  2. How many classrooms do we need?
  3. What are the external distractions that need to be minimised?
  4. What are the subjects we need to teach?
  5. How many desks and chairs do we need?
  6. Where do we put the whiteboard?
  7. Can all the students see the teacher/whiteboard/front?
  8. Where are the noticeboards to display student work?
  9. Where do we put the teachers desk?
  10. What technology do we need today?

The Design Council paper includes this annotated photo, a snapshot in time that could be the reality in many schools today, 10 years later. What does it tell us?

From:  Learning Environments Campaign Prospectus - From the inside looking out

From: Learning Environments Campaign Prospectus – From the inside looking out

Internal decor: Standardised institutional environment lacks character and fails to complement other aspects of design

Displays: Static and scrappy displays of student work rapidly become wallpaper.

Teacher’s desk: Teacher zone supports didactic approach and mindset among teachers and pupils

Technology: When technology is not embedded within design the environment will not support ongoing flexible adaptation

Desks and arrangement of furniture

  • Middle of the class: Children not wanting to answer questions sit outside this area
  • Desks at the back: Children wanting to misbehave sit here

Light: Lack of control over light

Furniture: Inflexible desks and chairs inhibit group work and movement

In 2009, the Salford Centre for Research and Innovation in the Built and Human Environment Barrett and Zhang emphasised the link between learning and space.

Barrett and Zhang do not believe it is possible to create a plan that will work forever, however…three key issues seem to link school design with considerations of individualisation, and provide a framework within which change can take place.

These three issues are choice, flexibility and connection.

Taking the time to think ahead, to understand the learning and social needs of students and provide the learning environment that students need, there are alternative questions that can be asked:

  1. What kind of learning do we want to see?
  2. What are the learning relationships we want to encourage?
  3. How much natural light and outside inspiration can we accommodate?
  4. What tools and resources are available to us to support students’ learning?
  5. What furniture facilitate the learning environment we need?
  6. What focal points are required?
  7. Where will the variety of learning modes happen in the space?
  8. How do we share the creativity and innovation of students?
  9. How do we facilitate the storage needs for the teacher?
  10. What (do we imagine) will be our technology needs in the future?

There are probably many more, but this is a start.

@anneknock

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