Saturday, 17 October 2015

An afternoon in an MLE

Getting things underway for my provisional teacher registration meant a trip was required.  I would need to go to Auckland and visit the Japanese Consulate to apply for the necessary documents to complete my teacher registration.  It was the perfect opportunity to make a school visit.  I got in touch with @ReidTeachnz and organised to go and observe an MLE in action at Hobsonville Point Primary School.

Visiting a school that is purpose built as an MLE is a mental adjustment.   Experiences in and around MLP throughout the year meant I developed an appreciation for the approach.  But viewing a school where everyone is deeply invested in their roles, and seeing how the overall layout of the school and policies within the school are geared towards the practice,  is just different.  From the water tanks accumulating rainwater and re-distributed to the gardens to the students allowed in the staffroom; if the conversation is not appropriate for children's ears, then is it necessary at all? It also means students coming in to cook their lunch.  I think the mental adjustment is required because until you have seen it in action, you can't really imagine it. Afterall, I like most, spent my entire school life single cell classrooms.

Inventive thinking, digital-age literacy, and effective communication permeates all classroom learning.  Learners were engaged in a multitude of projects and were having to manage their time and groups to achieve deadlines.  The mix of approaches had varying degrees of success for different cohorts, but the independence of strategy was clear and in most cases purposeful.  I am not suggesting this does not happen in other classrooms - I am not wishing to add to the MLE debate - but the way I saw it encapsulated in this classroom was not something I had seen before, so to me it was a real eye opener.

I'm doubly inquisitive about MLEs because for my practicum I will be in one. It is on a different scale to Hobsonville, and in an Intermediate, but it is exciting and something I am really looking forward to.  I am also curious about how long it will take to adjust to this style of class.  This has me thinking about my experience at Hobsonville, and my experiences to come over the next few months.

So a few questions have arisen from the visit, which I had plenty of time to think about during a bumper to bumper journey through Auckland.

Is there much push-back from parents when things aren't going smoothly?
How long does it take to transition into this type of teaching environment?
How long does it take for the students to transition?
With so many visitors coming through, do the students get disrupted?
Is this a fit for all learners? If so, why? If not, why not?
Would you want to go back to a school with a different learning approach after that?

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