ILE, or Innovative Learning Environment refers to both the physical learning space that teachers and students work in, as well as the collaborative style of learning that happens with the space. Having a purpose-built space is nice, but not essential for collaborative learning to happen.
There are many misconceptions about ILE, they are often portrayed as being noisy, chaotic and "barn-like". We have worked closely with our fantastic architects at MOAA, to ensure our learning spaces meet the needs of our students and teachers now, but will also be flexible enough to change over time.
The physical "look and feel" of an ILE is very different to a traditional school made up of single classrooms. The physical space in an ILE is very open, with large groups of students and multiple teachers working collaboratively in the same area. When you look more closely, you will see that the large spaces are divided up into zones or areas for specific learning. We know from current research in education that providing children with a variety of learning spaces, creates opportunities for them to learn in ways that suit them best.
Our staff have been on a professional development journey over several years, to prepare for the move from traditional single-cell classrooms, to the collaborative learning spaces of our new buildings. More important than the actual space, is the pedagogy (theory and practice of teaching) that underpins what happens in the space. Over 2015/2016, the majority of our teachers completed the Postgraduate Certificate in Applied Practice and Digital Learning, through The Mindlab. This postgraduate study has been a key part of our professional development, ensuring our teachers keep up to date with current teaching and learning theory, to best meet the needs of children learning in the 21st Century, in increasingly collaborative learning environments. As part of our journey we have undertaken visits to schools in both New Zealand and overseas to see first-hand the "best practice" in these ILE schools. We have had the benefit of time, to progressively move towards collaborative teaching and we are excited about the future of learning in our ILE at The Gardens School.