Monday, 22 March 2010

agile, open, effective

Up in the Blue Mountains, west of Sydney, like many parts of the world, a lot of schools are appearing with large agile spaces (I approve) for a lot more than 30 children, and for more than one teacher too. 100 students and three teachers is not uncommon - in this picture there are 120 youngsters in one space, quietly getting on with their learning very effectively.

Teachers who haven't tried these super-classes wonder how it will all work - it clearly can work remarkably well, but only if the teachers have clearly defined team roles; for example in a three class space there might be a lead teacher, whilst another might focus on differentiation giving width and breadth to those who need it, and the third might be on remedial-repair duty - catching up those who missed a bit, or misunderstood a bit. A classroom assistant might also be sorting out logistics, checking that everything works and so on. The evidence emerging from these schools is compelling when it is done well. There are no hard and fast rules for these roles, but without them it is all too tempting to have three teachers doing a Dick Turpin lesson ("stand and deliver") in three different corners, or just as fatally have one teacher "in charge" while the others nip out for a bit of photocopying.

Children as making remarkable progress though when the "team' re ally sort out what they will each be doing - and with such a resource of other students on hand rules like "ask three then me" take a lot of the pressure off the teachers' shoulders giving them more time to carry out their role professionally.


Unknown said...

Hi Stephen,

Which school was this? I have seen many good examples of space in Australia and think they tackle this issue very well.

All the best,

Nick Palfrey

Oliver said...

Thanks for sharing this Stephen. I am really interested in the research behind this. Would you be able to point me to any further information on super classes?

Mr Gilchrist said...


We are just beginning to consider "Large group" teaching and all the consequences / opportunities that this will bring. We are fortunate to have a new build (Newport High School), but even so, the only spaces that we could house 60+ students in one class would be the halls, drama studios OR the approach that I am considering - to open up some classes, plus the break out space and have multiple activities going on and let the learners choose what / where they interact with the learning. (Say guided in one corner, small group work and individual in another class).

Good though provoking post as usual.
Glen Gilchrist