St Mary’s is a happy school that celebrates a love of life. We work in partnership with parents and families to help each child discover and develop their unique gifts and talents. Principal Alanna McRae tell us about St Mary’s Stage 3 Flexible Learning Environment.
What is a flexible learning environment?
A flexible learning environment moves away from a traditional classroom, where students remain in set seats for the majority of the day. It provides students with a choice in the learning space that provides the best opportunities to learn for them. In a flexible learning space, individuals and groups are catered for by moving between spaces that are designed for group work, paired work and individual work. Furniture is moveable, so that different configurations can be made. Our flexible learning environments allow students to work collaboratively, communicate effectively and engage in critical thinking.
What are the benefits of a flexible learning environment?
Flexible learning environments cater for the diverse needs of 21st Century learners and provide the opportunity for more differentiated learning opportunities. Students are encouraged to collaborate, use digital literacy, critical thinking skills, problem solving, and to take risks within their learning.
In our flexible learning environments, two teachers work together in each year level. There is shared ownership of the students and their learning, with teachers working collaboratively to plan together, share analysis of assessments results and discuss student progress. This allows teachers to best utilise their expertise to improve student learning outcomes.
Within the environment there is the opportunity for students to break into small groups to hone in on specific student needs, or to provide extension work. At the same time, other students can be working with the other teacher in a bigger group or on individual tasks.
What do our parents say about the flexible learning environment?
“We’ve had both our girls experience learning in Stage Three at St Mary’s – they both loved having their year class together in one room. We hope the bonds of mateship that form in this stage will stay with them for years. The learning experience is different, but we believe enhanced, as the girls are more relaxed and focused with two teachers that teach in a team structure delivering better educational outcomes.”- Lisa and Ambrose Hallman.
“St Mary’s is a wonderful community that makes our children feel valued and has welcomed our family whole heartedly. It encourages our children to step beyond their own comfort zone and take on challenges that empowers them to face their self doubt, whilst building confidence in all endeavours.
“Academically they are appropriately challenged, although as parents we feel that they are motivated to achieve their best due to the unique classroom setting they learn in. Socially, they are well supported and as parents, we have greatly appreciated the inclusive nature of the broader parent body and the family feel of St Mary’s, which has enabled our children to thrive.” – Jason and Alyssa Lincoln.
How do the students feel about the flexible learning environment?
Students in Stage 3 feel that their classroom is different from previous years where they had set desks. In the flexible learning environment students feel more mature, as they are taking responsibility for their equipment, who they work with and where they work. Students enjoy choosing who they sit with and the space they work in, particularly as this is not designated by teachers.
The students enjoy being able to work with more than one teacher or adult during the day. With the grade being altogether, it doesn’t matter which class they are in; they are with all their peers. It takes time for them to get used to carrying equipment around; however, students feel that the experience of working in a flexible learning space in Stage 3 prepares for moving learning spaces and working with different adults as they will do in high school. The furniture in the classrooms is funky and inviting. There are flip desks, high desks, soft furniture, wobbly chairs and sofas, and the kids like the options they have. Year 5 students have indicated that they would not wish to go back to the traditional classroom, because they feel they are learning in so many different ways and it is fun.