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Reimagining Childhood and Designing Innovative Learning Spaces

As we welcome all students back on site for the first week of school, we are very excited as learning spaces within the Mary Glowrey Centre begin to open. Year 6 moved straight into their classrooms on level 2, while from next Monday, we will see the opening of music classrooms and the new Digital Design Laboratory. While the builders continue to complete different learning spaces over time, we anticipate celebrating the formal opening of the centre in Term 2. We hope this might provide greater opportunity to welcome parents and friends to visit, should there be further easing of restrictions.

The book entitled The Third Teacher with prominent authors from three global design firms argued that there are three teachers within any one classroom. First, there is the teacher, then the students, while the environment is the ‘third teacher’. Combining design principles with research in education, psychology, and cognitive science, we are asked to consider what messages about teaching and learning do our students see when they walk into their classrooms? We shape our buildings, and our buildings shape us.

You might have noticed that over the past few years the College has continued to invest heavily in the Junior School buildings and classrooms. As we focus on differentiating our instruction, we have imagined how powerful it is when we differentiate our learning environment. Many classrooms now have different sized and shaped tables, including stand-up tables, which are height adjustable.

There has been a great deal of renovation, removing internal walls and replacing them with glass. Natural light now floods into many of these spacious rooms. Purposeful use of colour has introduced warm natural palettes, which integrates the colour of artwork. We are fortunate to have staff who understand the importance of, and invest time in, curating their rooms, making every space in the room count – and count for learning.

Innovative learning environments are not just classrooms but spaces of beauty in which we have carved out spaces for flexible learning. The Year 6 classrooms have as many break-out spaces in support of collaborative learning, student presentation, independent study, and differentiated learning groups. Each of these new classrooms within the Mary Glowrey Centre boasts generous proportions. Acoustic properties have been introduced in collaborative rooms. Technical capability for the future has been considered, with inbuilt audio amplification and linked Promethean panels.

Children are naturally creative, and it is our role as teachers to give them the freedom, materials, and space to let their creativity blossom to its full potential. Designing optimal learning spaces for the future can be achieved in a number of ways, but understanding this not only means a technology-rich environment, but also reflects the importance of social interaction and pedagogical principles of effective learning. British paediatrician DW Winnicott stated: ‘It is playing, and only in playing, that the individual child or adult is able to be creative and to use the whole personality, and it is only in being creative that the individual discovers the self.’ We are looking forward so much to seeing our children grow in these exceptional learning spaces – let them play!

Mr Nic Boys
Head of Junior School

Mary Glowrey centre

A recent photo of the Mary Glowrey Centre

Pictured below are images of learning spaces and classrooms in the Mary Glowrey Centre.

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