It has been well over a year since I began conversations with LEaRN about joining their team and thus, plenty of built up anticipation. I am glad to say that in my first two weeks they have lived up to my expectations 100%.
My goal is to have at least a blog post a week from this point on but so much information has been thrown at me since I began work with LEaRN and it's taken me a bit of time to absorb it all. This past week I was able to spend a day listening in on the final partners meeting for their most recent research study on Evaluating 21st Century Learning Environments (E21LE). Through this study, they have curated a mass amounts of research related to learning space evaluation including accessible tools they have developed. As I learn the specifics about the various tools available, I will share that here.
Following the partners meeting was a two-day conference hosted by LEaRN called "Talking Spaces" focused entirely on the intersection of the design and use of innovative learning spaces. It is an amazing (and overwhelming) thing to attend a conference in which each presentation and conversation feels intensely vital. A story told by Dr. Claire Newton towards the end I feel encapsulates the mood of the event. I'll paraphrase:
Just because you have a state-of-the-art kitchen doesn't mean you'll cook great food. To that end, however, a great chef can do amazing things with a small outdoor grill (though perhaps with some difficulty). The same goes for school design and educators.
Thus, all discussion around innovative learning spaces, interesting models of community engagement in schools, or evaluation tools was had with the understanding that all of this is meaningless unless work is done to align all the elements of the organization. The biggest sticking points seem to be how well educators are trained/supported to use an innovative learning space, the strength of leadership and their buy-in, and school timetables/schedules. More to come on all fronts!