Adventist school’s new approach to teaching

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Rotorua, New Zealand

A Seventh-day Adventist school’s innovative approach to teaching and learning could result in big changes for the rest of New Zealand’s small schools. 

We want to provide our teachers with every opportunity to harness the very best learning strategies and develop young people of the highest Christian character and principle.

Rotorua Adventist School recently adopted an open-plan layout for its classrooms, meaning its 35 pupils from Years 1 to 8 now collaborate together at open tables instead of individual desks. 

The complete refurbishment also includes the installation of solar light panels and other modern learning environment features. 

Principal Lanea Strickland told the Rotorua Daily Post the new classroom setup allows students to be “more fluid depending on their academic capabilities rather than their class level”.

She also said “having the children sit together at tables rather than desks encourages conversation and teamwork”. 

Despite still being in the “trialling” phase of this new approach to teaching, the school is already noticing huge improvements in the students’ behaviour, social interactions and willingness to learn. 

“Rotorua is one of the schools taking immediate advantage of our modernisation strategy,” said Rosalie McFarlane, Adventist Education director for the New Zealand Pacific Union Conference. “We want to provide our teachers with every opportunity to harness the very best learning strategies and develop young people of the highest Christian character and principle.”

Research material is limited on collaborative learning for schools with small rolls and, if the strategy continues to prove successful, Mrs Strickland believes it could be used as an example for other schools in the country.