Teachers take learning to a higher level

    Central Southland College's Alister Gray (left), Otatara School's Sarah Lovell and Windsor North School's Andrew Barnett swapped the classroom for the air force as part of training to develop important skills. Photo: Supplied

    LEARNING how to land a plane in a flight simulator and helping assemble a plane was a different experience for three Southland teachers recently.

    Central Southland College’s Alister Gray, Otatara School’s Sarah Lovell and Windsor North School’s Andrew Barnett were part of a week-long immerse experience at the Royal New Zealand Air Force (RNZAF) base in Auckland last month.

    The trio were among 41 teachers who took part in School to Skies Edternship’, designed to help them broaden, develop, prototype and test a real-world learning experience for pupils in Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths (STEM) areas and aviation, with the support of the RNZAF, 21C Skills Lab and external learning coaches.

    Mr Grey said the programme was an amazing opportunity to develop skills like teamwork, critical thinking and resilience.

    During the six days of the course, they had the same experience Year 12 and 13 girls had in the to Skies’ programme.

    They also had sessions with Nanogirl’s Michelle Dickinson, talks with industry experts and, in the end, the teachers had to pitch what they could bring from that experience to their classrooms, he said.

    “We got to see how the Air Force really works – and what a great team. You know? How they are there for each other, the communications… It is just about the teamwork.

    “The reason for us being there, as teachers, was to try to look at teaching with a different perspective because big employers… want kids who are resilient and know how to work as a team and to manage.”

    Mr Grey believed the idea was to change the traditional education model.

    “We can do things differently in our classrooms – and that is the goal.”

    Mr Barnett agreed and said he had already been discussing with other teachers in his school how to develop those skills better with the pupils.

    “We want to build this from the start of the year – this feeling of co-operation, teamwork, resilience – and keep building this throughout the year.

    “Showing that it’s OK to fail – we don’t pick things up the first time but it is about learning with those experiences.”

    He believed the programme would help him enable his pupils to thrive in a “constantly changing environment”.

    Mrs Lovell defined the whole experience as inspiring.

    “I love learning. It was amazing being able to grab more ideas and more knowledge that will support our students and keep the passion.”