A collaborative working space...for teachers

In an Australian first, Loreto Mandeville Hall principal, Dr Susan Stevens, told The Educator how a new innovative space for her school’s staff has revolutionised the way they collaborate.

Stevens explained the decision to make the change coincided with the opening of the school’s Mandeville Centre, a Prep-Year 12 state-of-the-art library.

“This is ground-breaking. No other school in Australia has done this,” Stevens said.

“Our teachers have always had their own desks with books piled everywhere and their family photos. Staff now have large roundtables, couches, desks, a locker and a filing cabinet.

While other industries have been proactive in making such changes to their executives’ work spaces, Stevens pointed out that school staff have missed out – until now.

“They’ve done it in corporate, they’ve even done it in university but it doesn’t seem to have been done in schools,” Stevens said.

“There was some nervousness and anxiety beforehand, but we did the change process well. Once teachers moved in, which was only six weeks ago, they took to it like ducks to water. It was extraordinary.”

Stevens said the teachers now have a beautiful new common room, a couch area, an outdoor garden and meeting rooms.

“Every space I looked there was someone using it in the way it was intended, yet beforehand they were quite nervous as they had to do a huge cleanout of their desks and be relocated for a year while the new area was being set up,” Stevens said.

While the change has contributed to a “clean and beautiful” environment, Stevens said the intent was for staff to engage in a space that is open, welcoming and collaborative, adding that staff are now much happier with the new environment.

“It’s now a totally collaborative working space and the staff are absolutely loving it.

“I’m dead sure that once other people realise that this is a possibility in their school, it may in fact be a model they will choose to adopt,” Stevens said.