We are about to head back to school for Semester 2. A new semester, a new zodiac year.
Time to reflect, to recharge, to re-energise, time to look back, breathe and re-evaluate.
In August this past year, the Studio 5 team took advantage of the fact that they would now have an extended space for their hub of learning which would be dedicated to Studio 5 students. The team also reflected on some of the successes and challenges of their pilot year. One of the past year challenges was guiding both learners and advisors to break out of classroom walls and “live” the studio style. (August 2019 – Trying to break the homeroom mould). Moving forward, the goal was to use the extended space in true studio style that would reflect our beliefs about agency and provide learners with voice, choice and ownership of their learning, their spaces and how they used them.
Taryn BondClegg (@makinggoodhumans) has already documented and shared with her readers on Makinggoodhumans, the thinking, the planning and the journey of the advisors and the learners that took place back in August.
Handing over the Studio spaces to our learners to design as they best thought they needed for learning, was a great success. The studio design culminated in a ‘Chill-ax’ room, a reading nook, a recording studio, a fitness room, a town hall, a science and maths centre, a tech space and a town hall.
Now their ‘stage was set, the Studio 5 team and learners turned their focus to developing a Studio 5 community and planning their first Student Designed Units of Inquiry.
As the term progressed, we started noticing that our learners weren’t really using the spaces for the purose that they had first designed them for. There were learners attending maths courses in the drama space, completing blogs in the fitness room, learners using the townhall for DIY projects and Art work, and reading in the recording space, and of course, there were learners (and advisors) using tech everywhere and not just in the tech room.
So what had gone wrong?
The Design Cycle:
We reviewed the Design Cycle and stepped back to look at our process.
Design and Plan:
Begin to list options, idea and possible plans. Drafting a number of possiblities, bringing materials into the plan, going deeper and with more detail and considering all options. Drafting several plans – going back to INVESTIGATE by collecting opinion and feedback and ultimately choosing one plan forward, creating a more concrete ‘blueprint’ and formalising details.
Taking action and turning plans into reality. Stopping to reflect, check back, update and adjust the orignal plan, and record those changes and thinking behind them. Honouring the process – testing along the way and making adjustments to
Taking time to ask for feedback, reflect, test the product, living with it and using it for a while and continually evaluating its success against the original investigation and within that the purpose of the design itself.
So, as Taryn’s blog post (August 2019 – The magic of a student designed Studio. ) records both the Studio 5 team and the learners HAD followed the design process, so why were these purpose-fully designed spaces no longer being used for the purpose they were designed for?
Through reflection and discussion ( the team’s own investigation in the Design cycle) there was a realisation, that although, the Studio had been purposefully designed by the learners and, there certainly had been many opportunities for learners to use their voice, make choices and have ownership of the spaces, our learners had designed and set these spaces up without really understanding what spaces they would need as learners.
The learners’ purpose planners and student directed units of inquiry were created after the design and set up of the studio spaces.
So, although we had a fitness room, most of the more active purpose units needed the dance room or the field for their inquiries. Although we had a creative arts space, most inquiries focused on arts and creativity were drawn to the Fab Lab and expertise of Mr Nhan (@NhanNgu38386685 ) and Mr. Frank (@PhuHua ), and although we had a reading room, it proved to be a great space for quiet reflection, blogging or skyping with experts.
Following the winter break, we had, as a school, invited Duane Smith (http://earlylearningineducation.com/ ) back to work with our learning community. Duane had worked with our Lower Primary and Early Explorers teams during our 3E Conference to create purposeful learning spaces that invited learners in to engage and connect with their environment, and to do this through vision of ‘shared responsibility’.
One of my personal beliefs in schools, is we should be taking full advantage of the ideas, the creativity, the problem solving and the incredible practices within our school and our colleagues. We have so much to learn from each other and I am constantly encouraging Studio 4 & 5 to visit our Early Explorers, our Kg team to visit the Arts space and our teachers to celebrate and learn with and from each other.
So, for Duane’s January visit, we asked him to not only extend the work he had done with the younger year groups to the upper primary, but also to see if he could encourage, support, connect and celebrate vertical learning opportunities within the school.
When Duane met with the Studio 5 team, the discussion and reflection centred around their studio spaces. Duane is an advocate of ‘shared responsibility’ and so his values of agency and the design of spaces belonging to the learner and the community very much aligns with ours.
Duane’s discussions focused on the learners and their needs:
- the need to feel respected,
- need to be free to express themselves,
- need to be safe to take risks and make mistakes.
- need to have spaces for individual and collective learning
- need to have access to spaces, resources and experts as and when they need them.
And then, as a true community, taking shared responsibility: the teachers and advisors:
- the need to feel a sense of belonging for the place they work,
- the need to have community space
- the need to have private space
Returning after the winter break, Studio 5 learners took some time to reflect and decide whether they were going to ‘pivot or persevere’ for their second student designed inquiry.
Now, as we go into Semester 2, plans are in place and learners now have a more of an idea of who they are as learners and what they would like to acheive through their second unit. They also have a more informed idea of what tools, materials and spaces they might need as they embark on their second student designed unit of inquiry.
Taking some of the learning from time spent with Duane, the team decided a ‘re-do’ was needed and thus, prior to the Tet (Vietnam New Year) holiday, the studio space went through a big ‘ clear-out’. For the second time this year, shelves were cleared, cupboards emptied, materials collected in a huge studio-sized spring clean (in true Tet style). As you walked through the studio, this is what you saw. A provocation to engage and invite the learners in (again!)
Once cleared and stacked, learners were then asked to sort their ‘trash from the treasure’ , negotiate with each other re: needs and wants and make informed decisions as to what might be needed to support their learning, both individually and collectively.
They have ‘reset’ and are back to zero.….. and that’s OK.
But are they really? There’s been an incredible amount of learning, reflection, thinking and discussion throughout the past semeseter and this process. Taking the time to reflect, ‘revisit their why’ and whilst appreciating the successes of August not being afraid to go back to an ‘almost’ blank slate, but this time with more intention to ensure their ‘why’ was still true.
Tomorrow we begin Semester 2.
Studio 5 learners will be asked to consider and re-consider the purpose of their collaborative learning spaces and, using the design principles reflect on the impact of those spaces on their learning both as individuals but also through the collective lens and maintaining the concept of “shared responsibility”.
I can’t wait to see what they come up with!