Tuesday, 3 March 2015

MLP- modern learning pedagogy: part three


Where does one begin?

What path should one take?

How effective will it be to focus an inquiry on practice so that it doesn't impact the learning in one's classroom?


In 2015, I am lucky enough to be part of a 3 teacher collaborative teaching situation. Poutama: journey to learning is the 'space' that I work within. I am lucky enough to work alongside another experienced teacher, and the PRT that I mentor (which is a very loose term for what is the actual outcome of our interaction).

This year has thus far been exciting, challenging, draining, but worthwhile. 

There comes a point in any teacher's career, when you find yourself at a crossroad. Do I continue teaching the way I have always taught, or do I challenge myself to be better.  

After Ulearn 14 last year, I was offered the opportunity to continue being a senior teacher of a team, but also, to support Riverdale in the re-purposing of a major learning hub, flexible learning space. Namely, 'POUTAMA'. LC5 or learning community 5. It's a karaihe full of students, we're literally bursting with 73 students. But on any given day, there are 3 teachers, plus 2 teacher aides and another part time teacher, Monday-Wednesday. Having reduced our ratio to 1:24 we are better equipped to teach. More on this later, it's time to GO BACK.

So, early on in 2014, the 3 of us teachers spent time discussing the logistics of collaborative teaching and flexi-learning spaces. After all, an MLE needs strong MLP (modern learning pedagogy). Our Principal has led us to re-purpose the MLE to flexi-learning environment. This is a more appropriate title for what we are trying to develop. Many discussions over the summer break led us to the idea that our space needed to have 'breakout' zones. This was a theme of many of the ulearn workshops. I led the team to believe in my vision about having such a learning space. We added on the 'connect', 'think' and 'create'.

Breakout- an area of learning where a teacher might take a non-traditional workshop on metacognition, or digital technology. A space where students might work independently on their BYOD to complete a 'must do' or 'can do'. After 5 weeks, it looks very different to our original vision. However, students enjoy learning in this space, there are tables and chairs. A built in wall seat has allowed the students to use this space to their advantage.

Think- this space is where a lot of collaboration takes places, ss play active learning games, which are found in our SDA (self directed activity) boxes, the hope being that students that learn best with a peer or in a group are thus given this vital opportunity. Gamification is a huge concept right now in MLE circles. We've followed suit, but of course, learning games have always been a part of my own single cell classroom environments. We provide many online games too, we hope to fool these kids into learning, even though they're playing a game. Kinaesthetic learning behaviours are carefully integrated into our learning programme. We want to provide times for students that learn from doing, to do just that: 'learn by doing', rather than just sitting.

Connect- quiet is a very important aspect for many individuals. This space is where we teach instructional groups. Groups of learners we know need similar teaching. We see all of our workshop groups in this space. Therefore it must be silent. The students are still coming to terms with this idea. But it's early days, so that can obviously be forgiven. There are 2 whiteboard tables in this room, where 2 teacher can work with their groups, our 10 Imacs or 'learning hub' is in here too. This space is about 'connecting' with a teacher. We try to support our learners to meet the demands of a learning intention or W.A.L.T (acronym for we are learning to). In this space, one teacher will be sitting on the mat with their learners, so at any one time, there could be 3 teachers taking instructional groups of up to 8 learners each, 10 students on the imacs, 5 groups by the couch and pink chill zone. This of course sounds absurd, you'd be right to think it. However, LEARNING HAPPENS. Yes it gets noisy, however, when it's quiet, which is often, the ss are amazingly focussed, regardless of noise.

Create- we have spent much of our time focussing on the other spaces, that this space has been slightly neglected. It has a lot of potential, but with everything that we're learning as collaborative teachers, and with all the systems we're setting up, it's not been practical to build in this space.


Our pedagogy cannot simply be recorded in a few blog posts. Pictures don't do it justice. However, learning is at the top of our list. We want our learners engaged, we want them to love learning. We want to do the best we can. WE ARE LOVING WHAT WE DO.


  1. Drew, thank you so much for sharing this blog and the inner workings of your mind with us. What resonated the most was when you said that the space is changed from the vision, changed from how it looked and worked at the start but that it is working for everyone using it.
    We have started a MLE for Year 0/1 and this has been our experience. I really like the way you have highlighted the need for MLP to be in a MLE.
    Good luck, I shall keep visiting for inspiration.
    Wendy - Rowandale School, Auckland

    1. Wendy, thanks very much for your kind words. I'm keen to share, and to read what other people are doing for their teacher inquiry too. Great to hear that we've got similar experiences.

      Enjoy your MLE!



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