06 SES 17, The Tried and Trusted or Designing for Innovation? Risks, Benefits and Participation in Developing Innovative + Flexible Educational Facilities Part 2
Symposium continued from 06 SES 16
The transition from traditional classrooms and teaching to co-teaching in Innovative Learning Environments (ILE) involves a range of interdisciplinary stakeholders including architecture, education, management and psychology. Strategic priorities, educational leadership factors, policy debates and even public and political opinions also influence the development and implementation of innovative learning environments (OECD, 2017). Yet, there is limited knowledge about how key stakeholders in the educational system perceive these essential changes to their work environment and professional practice (Schabmann et.al, 2016). There are risks associated with not hearing teachers’ voice, as teachers are required to transform their practice, and their perspectives also contribute to the development of well-informed evaluations (Earl & Timperley, 2015) and a holistic evidence base (Bourke & Loveridge, 2013). Teachers carry much of the risk inherent in the transition from traditional classroom approaches to ILEs, and a key element of this risk is ‘opening up’ to constant negotiation and collaboration around teaching practice. The study reported here has captured teacher perceptions of the non-cognitive skills (personal attributes, skills and dispositions) underpinning teacher collaboration in an ILE and how these impacted on their professional practices and qualities. In committing to collaborative practice, teachers are vulnerable to criticism, emotional upsets, communication problems, power imbalances and other inherent personal or interpersonal challenges. Whilst these conditions do pose risks for teacher wellbeing and self-efficacy, they also present opportunities for exceptional professional and personal growth. The study participants were 48 teachers from different primary schools in an educational jurisdiction spanning regional and rural areas in NSW, Australia. The participants had all worked in single-teacher traditional classroom contexts and, at the time of the study, they worked as co-teachers in ILEs. A mixed-methods approach to the inquiry utilised an online survey and, later, follow-up focus groups. The resulting quantitative data, from some of survey questions, was descriptively analysed, and qualitative data analysis (coding and theme identification) was applied to open-ended survey responses and the focus group discussions. The results have highlighted increasing requirements for interpersonal skills, communication, teamwork and problem solving between teacher colleagues, changes that were unanticipated and difficult to navigate without specific support, suggesting that this domain of transformation in teacher work requires more focus in school leadership and policy initiatives. Teacher wellbeing and the important role of critical reflective practice are implicated. Further, the findings suggest the need for more research about development of teachers’ interpersonal and intrapersonal skills in the workplace.
Bourke, R., & Loveridge, J. (2013). A scientist-practitioner model for inclusive education: Supporting graduate students to conduct systematic reviews for evidence-based practice. New Zealand Journal of Teachers’ Work, 14 (1), 4-24 Earl, L. & Timperley, H. (2015). Evaluative thinking for successful educational innovation. OECD Education Working Papers, No. 122. Retrieved from: http://dx.doi.org/10.1787/5jrxtk1jtdwf-en Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). (2017). The OECD Handbook for Innovative Learning Environments. Retrieved from: https://doi.org/10.1787/9789264277274-en Schabmann, A., Popper, V., Schmidt, B. M., Kühn, C. Pitro, U. & Spiel, C. (2016). The relevance of innovative school architecture for school principals. School Leadership & Management, 36(2), 184-203. doi:10.1080/13632434.2016.1196175
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