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Teacher workloads in I.L.E [ MLE]]

Started by charles gibson 29 Jul 2016 11:34am () Replies (9)

Our school is soon to become a new ILE school where collaboration is at the heart of modern teaching. We have spent sometime visiting other ILE schools throughout NZ.  I am totally behind this concept and I am sure it is the way forward to maximise learning.

However, I am concerned with teacher workload. Our teachers work hard enough and it seems to me, even more is required in a collaborative ILE. So, if this is correct, what do we need to develop, or put into place, to ensure we maximise teaching and learning and minimalise teacher stress/overload.? What do we need to give away? Are there smarter ways to work?


  • Karla Lister (View all users posts) 29 Jul 2016 11:58am ()

    I think this comes down to how well the change is managed.


    My experience is this...

    For my first 2 years in my ILE I did nothing different.  Then after a discussion with my principal I realised - I have the opportunity to make some amazing change. I got given 'permission' to give things a go, to experiment, and report back how I was going.  So this year I have put my all into it (don't get me wrong...I was always a 15 hour a day worker).  

    My work load has ultimately decreased.  It increased briefly. Most of term one was spent thinking.  Then at the end I finally knew what I wanted to do and went all guns blazing - I probably did 20 hour days for a fortnight,before flicking back to my normal 15 hours.  

    But my work load since then has significantly decreased, I rarely do over 10 hours a day work.  Over the last school holidays the only school work I did was write reports.  This is quite a miracle for me!  But through the use of the innovative learning environments I have also incorporated student agency. As a part of that I taught students to recognise their next learning steps, and how to plan their own learning.  This term they have planned the first 4 weeks themselves. I am there - but they have done it.  Yes, it takes away from some curriculum time - but I think the learning is JUST as valuable if not more valuable than sticking to what they would have traditionally been doing. Its important to remember that these students were taught how to do this throughout term 2, not just chucked in the deep end. 

    So, to answer your question: I think workload increased significantly then reduced significantly.  If it was well managed, this change could be longer term and more consistent and I think it would average out. I'm a bit of a "get an idea and do it" kinda person.  But I think if I had rolled the changes out over two years it would have still had the same effect, but not significantly increased the workload in the initial phase.  However, in saying that - I wouldn't change the way I did it if I had the chance again. 

    As for teacher collaboration...I have a little professional development group of 5 teachers.  We get an hour to work together a week where we share challenges of practice, and plan ways to collaborate in and across classes.  We have voluntarily added in after school meetings as well because we find that we get so inspired and make more progress with our work when we are doing it together. Weeks where we didn't have an extra after school meeting scheduled we would inevitably get to Tuesday and one of the group would email saying "please can we meet after school.... I need help with...". We have ALL at different times reported back to others "Our meeting is the highlight of the week".  

    What needs to go?  Maybe expectations...make an environment where teachers are free to dream big, and then implement their ideas....we're always so much more keen to put our hard work into something that excites us - not one size fits all.  That's what did it for us.  Permission (well...we were always allowed...we just didn't have the guts to go with it) to give it a go - if it doesn't work, you learn from that.  We haven't had 100% success...but we have had no shame in sharing our failures either - in fact, we even CC the principal into our failures, because we know we have learned from them. 

    Hope that helps.  Do it. Run with it.  If it's not working out you could always go back...(it will work out).


  • Julius Solia (View all users posts) 29 Jul 2016 12:15pm ()

    Hello Karla

    I found your response really helpful and insightful. I am also investigating MLE/ILE to incorporate in my class. The responses have been varied. I can see the benefits of MLE/ILE but struggle to get my head around it. Colleagues at schools I've visited have also been helpful.

    The workload isn't so much the issue for me as opposed to just starting. I'm kind of like one of those teachers who want to get it right when I start. I found your comments encouraging about starting and experimenting to stage you are at now.  

    I'd be interested in knowing the parental response when you started and how you coped with any criticism. 

    This is the first time I've replied on the VLN but really found your comment valuable.

  • Neill O'Reilly (View all users posts) 30 Jul 2016 1:22pm ()

    Hi Guys,

    I recently finished writing my thesis on the key components to creating and effective collaborative teaching and learning environment. I also have led the transition form autonomous practice in traditional classrooms to working in 'retro fit' spaces and now a purpose built school with 4-5 teachers, 1-2 learning assistants and 110 children in a flexible learning space.

    Charles to answer your question the short answer is the workload increases. This is due to the need to collaborate which requires significant communication, compromises, consensus, conflict, clarification and commitment. Teachers have to discuss everything that they previously did on their own, this in itself is time consuming. The number of people in the space adds to the initial complexity, as you can imagine, two people can quickly discuss and make decisions, often on the go. When you get to 3,4 and 5 or more then meeting times have to be arranged daily (our staff all arrive at 8:00am to spend time together and are required to be at school until 4:00pm to work together) and less can be done on the go as it requires all are involved. On the flip side when you have three or more you have the added benefit of multiple perspectives, experience, interests, skills and personality types.

    My research indicates the workload is significantly more for the first year and it takes two years with stable staffing to get the workload down to below what it was prior to going into collaborative practice. However, lets not assume all staff work all the hours God gives, some do not and some do, so for some who have been working very long hours their load might be less. No need to arrange a room for yourself, to plan everything alone, to find all the resources, to deal with a problem child alone...

    Here is a wee bit of a summary of my research

    The eight key components are (I call these S8 to collaborate)

    1. Support for Staff: Teachers in our school have additional release time, are all released at the same time, have planning days together. The initial support (in year 1 was four full days a term). This year it is a 90 minute block every week and usually another day a term. They also need support to use google docs effectively, to understand the skills of collaboration, to re think their approach to learning etc. If you want this to work then you need to invest in your staff there is no shortcut to this!
    2. Student centred: Sounds easy but I assure you it is not a given. Karla has some great examples.
    3. Shared beliefs and understandings: These take time, much work should be done in advance to develop understandings about what quality teaching and learning looks like, about what studnt centred means, about self regulation.... and then the beliefs and understandings emerge as teachers and other staff start to work together in the space
    4. Smart Systems: I have yet to see a school who has this one sorted, we are all re inventing the wheel with google docs etc and we have some sms coming on stream such as Linc-ed but at the moment we are not smart. Then we can talk about the systems and routines in the space to make it work
    5.  Skill Development: Teachers were not trained to work with adults, they were trained to work with children. We (leadership) have a big job to do to up skill the collaborative skills of staff. There are a multitude of ways to do this and starting points would include HBDI, Belbin. 7 Norms of Collaboration etc
    6. Strategies to Co-teach: To just work in the space with other teachers as you were in a traditional class is a recipe for disaster and a waste of human potential. Teachers will out perform themselves based on their past experience when they collaborate. So what to do? We have created our own co-teaching strategies using these and more specifically these 5 co-teaching strategies. There is gold in working differently and using collective power of more than one to improve the learning, self regulation and hauora of our tamariki.
    7. Structures School wide: These need to change, release time together is needed, appraisal systems need to be different, appointment processes change, timetabling and how staff are selected to be in a team
    8. Space flexibility: Teachers need to understand how to use space, such as flow, learning zones, the use of displays, of glass and light of the outdoors, of zones for collaboration, for independent learning for guided teaching etc

    These environments can be stunning for our children, imaging having the benefit of multiple teachers and their perspectives and world views, of multi years in one space building powerful relationships with teachers over time, of having space to undertake projects and inquiries. And for teachers having the support of colleagues, the collective problem solving, the collective wisdom skills and strengths, the opportunity for real time PLD in your workspace. All of this requires commitment from leadership, funding and resourcing to ensure it is a success. 

    Parents? Parents get it if we communicate: We are going to use the collective skills, knowledge and wisdom of our teachers to create the best possible learning environment for your child. Our focus will remain on quality teaching and learning. We will not be throwing the baby out with the bath water. We are going to take the best of what we already know about teaching and work together to make it even better. 

    Do not use terms like: MLE, ILE, FLS, FLE, MLP, ILP or any other stupid set of letter. Talk about quality teaching and learning, collaboration and flexible learning spaces and you will have parents more onboard. 

    Far out! I got carried away. I have to say that this is one of the most exciting times to be in education and there is no question the opportunity for teachers to collaborate together in a single space is fantastic for our kids but do it bit by bit, by design not experiment and you will get there.


    PS I hope to be able to upload a few diagrams to illustrate these points

  • Neill O'Reilly (View all users posts) 30 Jul 2016 1:31pm ()

    Ok I figured it out! So here are the S8

    Screen Shot 2016-07-30 at 1.24.41 pm.png


    and for staff and families this order is important

    Screen Shot 2016-02-17 at 5.37.41 pm.png

    rather than  this:

     Screen Shot 2016-02-15 at 7.59.19 pm.png 

    because shifting our focus away from quality T & L (effective pedagogy) and saying to ourselves or parents "We are now an ILE doing ILP or a MLE doing MLP" will result in this...

    Screen Shot 2016-02-15 at 7.59.49 pm.png

    and this is not ok for our students or teachers!

    I hope this helps ;-)



  • charles gibson (View all users posts) 01 Aug 2016 12:52pm ()

    Thanks Neil for all your help. I am at Lepperton School in New Plymouth. Where are you? I am really excited about  the development of our new school. And yes it does help... Alot. I think the more we can develop our curriculum, our pedagogy before the school is built the better we will be. I believe we are making excellent progress. Exciting times.


  • TK Tony (View all users posts) 30 Jul 2016 3:50pm ()

    Hi Charles,

    A good question/concern re teacher workload and one that we've considered a lot on our journey.  Neill has some great strategies, ideas and thoughts (as per usual) wink

    Some other tips/pointers/considerations (I know you will know some of these from your visits)

    - It will take more time (at least initially) and you need to allow for staff to "work things out" as they will very easily go into the pit (this is not a bad thing, as we ask our students to do this as a natural part of their learning)

    Screen Shot 2016-07-30 at 3.19.21 pm.png


    - We also do regular "black hat" / "yellow hat" reviews/reflections regarding our collaborative teaching and learning communities.  A lot of the early black hat reflections were relatively easily solved, and there are now not many black hat reflections at all.  One obvious barrier was TIME.  Time to meet together, time to plan, time to organise reports, programmes, resources etc etc.  To offset this, we have managed to use staffing carefully to eke out a 3rd CRT day per learning community (all released at once with specialist PE/art/music) - x2 blocks every 2nd week - works well.

    - Having a DEEP understanding of collaboration is crucial (not just cooperation)  refer http://blog.core-ed.org/blog/2015/06/collaboration-so-much-more-than-parallel-play.html 

    We have spent a lot of time developing our C7 collaborative norms below.  Again, these are reviewed and tweaked accordingly (everything is a laminated draft)

    A collaboration continuum was also useful at the start of the year, and recently revisited/reviewed at the end of Term 2.  Each Learning Community teaching team plotted individually on a continuum based on the C7 norms, with factors relating to both pedagogy and also personality.

    Example prompts were:  How tidy do I need my space to be before I can function properly? (ranging from "anally retentive!" to messy/dont care)

    If my LC buddy had a concern/issue and wanted to raise it with me, how would I prefer this to be done? (ranging from face to face/upfront to indirect/softly softly)

    How do I like to prepare for each day?   quiet time to myself - I like to meet and chat every morning

    other factors included agreed meeting times, views about groupings, using teacher strengths etc etc

     Screen Shot 2016-07-30 at 3.18.14 pm.png

    Be prepared to slaughter some SACRED COWS!

    Teaching undoubtedly is harder/busier and more complex than ever.  Given large changes in approaches and the additional time that collaborative teaching takes (but time well spent!) then what do we need to STOP doing.

    For us this includes reduced meetings after school, reduced assessment, no student-led conferences anymore (as being reported in real time via great app {Seesaw}) as some examples.

    Screen Shot 2016-07-30 at 3.18.53 pm.png

    - It is absolutely HARD WORK but so worth it.  I'm incredibly proud of our team at Te Kowhai that have made enormous changes over the last few years from a school that is 126 years old, with x15 "perfectly happy" single cell class teachers to a fully collaborative environment where teachers have are co-teaching for the last 1-2-3+ years.  I think the result below is testament to the work and what they are finding.....(this was latest reflection in teacher voice survey at end of last term)

    Of importance too was another question - How much of an impact do you feel working collaboratively is having on your own professional practice?  results: 63% extremely high impact, 31% high impact, 7% some impact.  Similar results for similar question re impact on student achievement....and student voice survey results are through the roof re impact that more than one teacher is having on their learning :-)

    Screen Shot 2016-07-30 at 3.43.52 pm.png

    so in summary......

    Screen Shot 2016-07-30 at 3.19.50 pm.png

  • charles gibson (View all users posts) 01 Aug 2016 12:59pm ()

    Thanks Tony.

    Things have really gone up a gear here. The MOE re-released the budget to double the amount. Everything seems to be fast-tracked which is great because we are ready. We should be in by the beginning of 2018. Thanks mate. As usual your help is really appreciated.


  • Vianney Douglas (View all users posts) 07 Sep 2016 4:15pm ()

    We are small kura and we have all taken the plunge to do the MindLab course, in addition we are about to undergo some much needed renovation.  I, as the Principal of the kura, am exploring ILE's and the need to work collaboratively among staff and students.  Three out of the 5 classrooms will be part of the change next year.  Did people trial working collaboratively prior to their renovations and new builds even though they were in single cells.  Was that successful?  Thinking that perhaps we could trial it next term, prior to renovations happening early next year.  Do you ask who would like to trial it, or suggest who would?  Regarding the time issue, how do you increase CRT. We only have 5 teaching staff, it's a real juggle already creating time out. Loving the comments above, although a little overwhelmed with all the aspects that need to be in place.  Have visited a couple of schools, probably go and have a look at a few more.  Worthwhile getting someone in for a little PD with staff and whānau?? 

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