I am always so frustrated by the inability of words to capture the bizarre transformation that has whirl-winded my school into a different dimension over the last 5 years. Everyone who visits says "I heard about this but I only understand now I can see it in action."
Well you should still come visit us, but in the meantime, these videos are a realistic window into business-as-usual at NBCS in 2011.
The change has almost entirely come within the last 5 years. The seeds were being sown previously, but then it just went ballistic! The scary thing for us is that the change is noticably speeding up, even since, say, last term. Ahhhh heeeelp we're falling into an educational singularity! (yay!)
Video #1 - The Zone
180 students + 6 teachers + one large space = inspiration.
The male teacher who speaks early in this video is Skender Cameron, who has been teaching for decades in the old paradigm. Now he is one of a team of teachers acting as shepherds over all of Year 5 and 6 as they work in one large open space we call 'The Zone'. Students flexibly group up and regroup depending on the context and their learning profile (which is constantly redefined).
Skender articulates succinctly why the new paradigm works so well on a professional level, and the students describe their own experiences working in an organically flexible environment.
Why does the chaos not collapse in on itself? Chantelle explains how we create a kind of scaffold - a digital learning ecosystem, that allows every student to know where they are and where they're going, even as they choose their own path.
So it's not chaotic, it's organic, and mixture of culture, community, and digital landscaping holds it together. I've provocatively entitled an upcoming conference presentation "Anarchy in Learning" because of this bizarre paradox: the more we let go of control, the more students rise to the occasion.
Video #2 - Year 8 Quest Program
140 students + 6 teachers + one large space = no conflict and a love of learning.
In the video my colleague Mark Burgess (@matonfender, blog), Director of 21st Century Learning, talks over footage of our Year 8s. What is gobsmacking is that teachers aren't wasting energy on conflict with the students. "Classroom management" is a non-issue. It's a non-word for us. A dream?! But true!
I am so proud of how far our school has come. We are so conscious of how far we still have to go, but now the innovation spot-fires have turned into a raging bush-fire. Teachers aren't even asking permission anymore let alone waiting to be prompted. The innovation is being pulled along from the grassroots-level.
My school's innovation newsletter: http://www.scil.nsw.edu.au/newsletter (We're trying to gather a tribe-for-change!)
Our principal's blog: http://imaginelearning.tumblr.com