Guide Adapting to Teaching and Learning in Open-Plan Schools

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Recently, some schools have been converting classrooms to more open-plan environments, where several classes share the same space. Classes are still divided into classes of students with their own teacher, but all of these classes are in the same room with no walls separating them, which results in 50, 90 or even children in the one area. Additionally, they are seen to benefit the teachers by promoting the sharing of skills, ideas and experiences and by allowing for team-teaching, which is believed to create a more cooperative and supportive atmosphere.

Yes, noise can be a big problem with open-plan classrooms, especially the high noise levels coming from the other classes sharing the same space. This is particularly problematic when a class is trying to engage in critical listening activities where it is essential that the children can hear the new concepts they are being taught. Distance from their teacher was also a major factor.

Not only that, but it is exhausting for the child trying to concentrate amid the noise. Teachers we visited reported being more distracted by noise, found speech communication significantly more difficult, and thought children had more difficulty hearing them, compared to the teachers of the enclosed classrooms.

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These teachers also needed to elevate their voices and experienced vocal strain and voice problems more often than the teachers in the enclosed classrooms. Our findings suggest that open-plan classrooms that are unable to control the noise from adjacent classes are not appropriate learning environments.

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Indeed, the role of students in helping to shape what they focus on from day to day now starts as early as kindergarten. Over the past few decades the country has been moving steadily towards a more informal culture where slightly higher levels of noise are tolerated. Backed up by a well-funded education system where teachers have an unusually high level of pay and prestige, this situation sounds healthy, even utopian. Finland is nonetheless subject to many of the pressures found in other countries—sometimes tragically so.

The country suffered school two shootings in and , one by a still-enrolled student, in which 20 people were killed and more injured. As detailed in an October Education Week article, this could mean taking a subject such as climate change and addressing it through mathematics or biology, rather than sitting down to an hour of pure, abstract math.

The open classroom concept thus fits neatly with an educational ethos that favors student autonomy and making cross-curricular connections, eschewing such internationally common assessment markers as standardized tests. Fitting such a layout to the teaching of a more obviously traditional curriculum might prove more difficult. The effectiveness of the flexible smaller spaces that contemporary Finnish school design creates, meanwhile, depend partly on low student-to-teacher ratios His writing focuses on housing, gentrification and social change, infrastructure, urban policy, and national cultures.

From ancient Rome to modern Atlanta, the shape of cities has been defined by the technologies that allow commuters to get to work in about 30 minutes. Cities that require builders to provide off-street parking trigger more traffic, sprawl, and housing unaffordability.

Why Flexible Learning Environments?

But we can break the vicious cycle. Thanks for the explanation. That certainly is a unique approach to specialist classes but it sounds like it works! I agree, I think the students really benefit from getting to know and work with a wide range of students in their year level. You are really lucky that your school supports you with this and how great that you had CRTs so you could do your mid-year interviews. That shows they really value your partnership.

Being absent is tricky. Kelly and I used to try to team teach with the CRT but to be honest we felt that we were doing all the work and the CRT pretty much just sat back. We now close our doors if one of us is away which is easy due to having two separate classes. It is actually nice to work with a small class every once in a while. Funnily enough, most of our absences this year have been when Kelly and I have presented together at conferences etc so we then just have two CRTs who taught separately. Dear Kathleen, I enjoyed reading your post about team teaching!

You are so fortunate to have a teaches partner who matches your teaching style and beliefs, with the physical space to make it all work. You have a dream come true. It would be really interesting to see you both continue with the class for another year. The growth could potentially be tremendous. The success of your partnership is a real gift to your students! Julie Hembree. I agree it is a dream come true to have the teachers, location and school support to make the team teaching arrangement work. It was great! So nice to come back after summer to familiar faces and families and pick up where we left off.

It often baffles me why teachers close the double doors! I love the team approach to teaching. Thanks to you and Kelly I was able to set up a collaborative blog this year with my team teacher Angella and her class. Two classes using and integrating with a blog makes so much sense. Reading your post was like looking in our mirror. Luckily for us we have been encouraged to take our class for two and in some cases three years.

(PDF) Classroom of the Future - Using the Open Plan School Model | Miguel Martinho -

This year we got straight into learning day one and have not looked back!! S- Oh and after having my students for three years let me prepare you….. Thanks for sharing your experiences! I agree, it is quite baffling why so few teachers are interested in team teaching.

Soundproofist – a practical approach to raising awareness about sound around us.

Very strange. I teach Year 5 with Henrietta and it has been an absolutely Wonderful journey for us both over the last 4 years. What I love is that we both know the students so well and the kids love that.

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They know they have 2 teachers and there is none of the drama of friends being split between classes. Good luck to you both and long may the teamwork continue. I have heard about the wonderful partnership that you and Henrietta have. I hope you enjoy your new experience just as much. Your post brings back very fond memories of co- teaching my 7th grade math class for two years with my colleague Johnsie. I taught 7th grade math for 13 years and for the last 4 years have been an instructional technology specialist in a high school.

By far the highlight of my teaching career has been the 2 years of co-teaching! We were not asked to co-teach, rather we proposed it with our plan and model to the administrators. They willingly agreed. Like you and Kelly, we both were very compatible. Our disciplining, teaching and learning beliefs, and teaching methodologies were very similar.

Most of all, we both were passionate about math sometimes in a nerdy way and our students saw this! All of this definitely made sharing a classroom and a team of about 95 students really easy! Our weaknesses and strengths were a compliment to each other. One of the nicest things about co-teaching was how much we learned from each other. Classroom management was a such a bonus with two people. EX: As one began class, the other walked around checking homework, making immediate contact with students that missed homework.

Our lesson planning and discussions were rich and extremely beneficial to both of us.

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I cannot think of one negative thing to say about our experience. Of course, this is only because of the fact that we worked well together. I was lucky to have shared the experience with a colleague who was a compliment to my teaching style. Thanks Kathleen for bringing back memories of my best teaching yeas! Good luck to you and Kelly and congratulations on a job well done! Thanks so much for sharing your experiences!

Even though it was a different time, age group and subject area, the similarities are very strong! It really does make teaching and learning easier, stronger and more enjoyable. Kelly and I do that all the time. There is definitely some ESP there. It certainly sounds like a memorable time. Jasmine wonders why teachers close the double doors, but clearly, working in an open area with an incompatible partner would be like a bad marriage! On the other hand, if you select your partner carefully,it may be a match made in heaven!

Both teachers must share a similar philosophy and work ethic. You surely deserve a great deal of credit for their wonderful attitude and enthusiasm for learning. I also like the idea of having students for more than one year. When we had levels, rather than grades, we used to keep half our class each year.