A Parents Guide to Collaborative Classrooms: What does it look like?

Learning Landscape Wednesday, 30 Nov 2022

It is one thing to see an agile learning space with all the students moving freely, collaborating and engaging but it is another thing entirely to know the behind-the-scenes framework which makes collaborative classrooms even possible. 

This is a quick guide to understanding exactly how Living Faith collaborative classrooms work. 

What is a collaborative classroom? 

At Living Faith, our classrooms are designed to be open, fluid and well… collaborative. All three 'classes’ Hope, Joy and Peace actually function as one big cohort instead of three separate entities of their own. Students within a year level are free to move throughout the space and make seating choices based on what works best for their learning and the particular task they are engaging in. Teachers also move freely throughout the space, working together, modelling essential soft skills and moving to their students rather than the other way around. This model places students at the centre of the design rather than the teacher. 

Teaching students to make choices.

From Prep we teach students about agile spaces and how to make good seating choices that work for them as individuals. This includes being explicitly taught expected behaviours for different areas of the classroom eg caves, campfires and waterholes. 

Who is my child's teacher? 

Essentially, your child has three class teachers. Each teacher is responsible for leading a different subject area within the cohort. One teacher may lead Maths lessons, while another leads Project-Based Learning (PBL). This means your child gets the benefit of targeted expertise and the opportunity to learn from a wide range of teaching styles. Each student will be assigned to a class: Hope, Joy or Peace. Your class teacher will monitor your child's progress and be your point of contact for any concerns or questions you may have. 

Who plans each subject? 

Whilst one teacher may lead a particular lesson, each teacher collaboratively teaches in this area, jumping in and contributing to explicit teaching, working with individuals and small groups. Teacher planning in each subject area also happens collaboratively between all three teachers, providing for deeper, richer ideas and planning that meets the needs of all students. Another key participant in the planning process is the students themselves. Project-Based Learning (PBL) is designed to incorporate student ideas by providing students with opportunities to lead the inquiry. 

Do I need to worry about which friends are in my child's class? 

Because of the collaborative nature of each learning space, students in each cohort all work together. This means students from Hope, Joy and Peace work side by side. It is important that all students learn to work together and collaborate with others they haven't worked with before. This builds a stronger year-level community and develops greater resilience, communication and empathy in our students. 

It also means that friends who are in a different ‘class’ are together anyway. The main time classes work separately is when they venture off to specialist lessons. This is when Hope, Joy and Peace split into their class groups. 

What are some of the benefits of collaborative classrooms? 
  • Teachers gain ongoing professional development and learn from one another;
  • Teachers model and demonstrate collaborative skills and how to work within a team;
  • Teachers can focus on one learning area providing greater depth and richer ideas and experiences;
  • There is consistency across the year level;
  • Students benefit from a variety of teaching styles;
  • Students learn to work with a broader range of peers;
  • Students develop greater social intelligence;
  • Students see different ways to solve problems - we all think differently;
  • Students have the benefit of a supportive whole cohort community of peers and teachers;
  • Students practise independence, responsibility and feel a sense of control over their learning as they make their own informed choices;
  • Provides a perfect environment for the development of Contemporary Competencies; 
  • With more adults in the room, greater support and targeted intervention can take place for students who need more support;
  • Learning adjustments can be better catered for; and
  • Collaborative classrooms foster an environment of intrinsically motivated lifelong workers

- Bianca Ravi, Director of Learning