Open plan learning spaces – my thoughts.
I have always taught in a traditional classroom and have loved my space in it. On arriving in Australia, the first school I visited (an independent school) had traditional classrooms and so I felt right at home. I did some casual and relief teaching there. But I soon got a contract at a public school, newly built, with open plan classrooms and the fun began. I noticed everything around me was different and even the way in which the students behaved in the learning space was somewhat of a culture shock to me. But I also found it interesting and began to feel glad that I was about to have a new experience in my teaching. However, for most of last year, we as teachers did our planning together but for the most part on the time, we got on with teaching on our own in our classrooms. We were not making use of the open spaces. This year took a new turn, after PLs and PDs, we have spread our wings and began to team teach and use every space possible to teach and work collaboratively. The year 5 team are doing an amazing job but are still dealing with the cons encountered in having over 30 students in an open plan learning environment.
The author in the article ‘Open Plan Classrooms’ (2013) has made reference to the many questions and probably fears that I had encountered at first and even still do. I’ve had to learn where to place my table and so I have shifted it to so many places in order to make space much needed for the students desks to be arranged in various ways. The year fives use their space in that the resources on the wall are available for every student in their two classes. I found it difficult to keep out the noise or to keep it in, for that matter, as there is a large number of children in our group that are easily distracted and/or disruptive in the learning space. Yes we are giving them instruction on how to show respect towards others, property, self and our learning space but this is taking the time it needs. I’m a year 4 teacher and my classroom is not next door to my year 4 colleague’s. We tried to use spaces in between our rooms but all proved too difficult unless we were next door or across from each other. So we are, at the moment being “. . . “contemporary” on our own in a singular room with a singular class.”
http://thecontemporaryteacher.global2.vic.edu.au/2013/04/13/open-plan-classrooms/ link to open resource.