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Westfall One-on-One: 21st Century Learning Facilities

What makes Heritage different in terms
of instructional facilities and the instructional abilities of Heritage
elementary versus other buildings or other campuses that you’ve had a chance
to lead in? I think at Heritage we are unique because we’re growing by leaps
and bounds, we have a couple of new housing developments around us and so we
are literally bursting at the seams. So our teachers are very creative in how
we do things around here. We used to have a science lab, we used to have a computer
lab on campus. Those rooms are now being used as classrooms and so in order for
us to continue evolving with the 21st century,
we’ve been creative in using other spaces in our building. So for instance
in the morning times we do STEM activities where our co-curr teachers help
us out. They’re pushing into classrooms to do those activities while teachers
are having to use another space to do planning time because we need the room
and the kids need to have things that are accessible to them and so there’s
several activities that we do throughout the day that require for us
to move into common areas. So we use our main hallway. So the main space just where you walk in the front of the
building? Yes, main space, hallway, every inch. My second-grade team has created a
reading hole at the end of their hallway where students go out there and they
read and they do activities. My third-grade team has activities for
math in the hallway where kids are challenging each other and dialoguing
about activities in the classroom so we’ve just learned to make good use
of our space that we have here on our campus. So when you have
teachers who are trying to figure out how to create that engaging
collaborative moment, are there things that probably are getting disruptive as
a result because of the way the facility is set up? Absolutely. They have to take
into consideration co-curr time when teams are actually
going to co-curr, if the hallway needs to be utilized for that because we
line kids up in the hallway to transition to classes and so it’s – I say we fine-tune it as we go. My fourth-grade team came up this
year with “let’s go to the library.” Let’s combine our classes in there and do a
co-teach model where we can engage and then learn from each other and expose
the kids to things with two teachers versus one and so we work with each
other, we look at schedules, we’re constantly talking back and forth with
each other and figuring out how to make it work. So if there was an ideal
space – if you were to say, you know what if we were going to create a space for
my teachers so that they could not only do the instruction that you would expect
to see but also now as we’re moving forward and trying to create that
collaborative piece for kids, what would that space look like that would not also
then displace people from where they’re trying to do their work? I
would see common areas where you have whiteboards from floor to ceiling,
where kids can come in and draw on the boards and spaces open where kids can
sit on beanbags and an area in the building that’s designated for common
planning and common teaching for the students that doesn’t necessarily
require for us to have traffic going through it all the time. If we had
different segments of the building where they could take their classes or if they
could open up rooms, have you know, a wall that would slide open right to create
space for two teams to come together that would be perfect. So what were some
of your experiences growing up in terms of education and how you see what you
want to change as a result of what you went through. Well as a kid I went to
private school and so my experience was very structured and so it was a lot of,
you know, I remember the teacher writing on the board
and then you copy what was on the board and then you take your book and you have
these pages that you’re covering by yourself for the next 30 minutes and
then I remember going to library we’d have the microfiche. I don’t know if you
had that when doing research. I do. We like to call microfiche because it made it sound
very you know… oh, well fiche! Microfiche – that’s what we had microfiche, and doing our research that way. I don’t remember… well I do remember one
teacher… I remember being in fourth grade and being very excited about going to
sixth grade because my sixth grade teacher was very hands-on. She was the
teacher that was creative and there was always laughter coming from her room and
so in her room – I think she was before her time. She did a lot of project-based
activities and we were rocking and rolling in that room and we did some of
the most creative things in that class. I think she was probably one of my
favorite teachers because in her room she would say, listen, there’s no wrong
answer. There is no one in this room that isn’t smart. We all come in every day and
we do our best and she challenged us and so I think that’s where my heart for
creativity comes from is because she was willing to take risks and allow us to do
things that were not in the textbook. She would say well you got a great idea
let’s see if it works and she would come the next day and we would do it and
that’s I think that’s what I want for my kids here. I want them to be able to come
in and have that creative experience.

Author Since: Mar 11, 2019

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