Mr Kemp NZ

What are “flex-time labs” and how do they work?

At my new school in Singapore, we have a new and exciting mentoring system named “advisory”.

Advisory is typically thought of as a “form class”however, our system is much more robust!

Every morning from 8.30-8.45am students from grade 6-12 meet with their advisory teachers to “touch base”, take attendance, read the daily student bulletin, discuss the day ahead and point out any upcoming events.

Later in the morning from 11.45am-12.25pm students return to their advisory class. This occurs every Monday, Wednesday and Friday. During the advisory sessions, students are involved in a positive education-related, social and emotional learning curriculum driven by their voice. Students have a say in what they do and what they need help and support with. These sessions in my classroom often include:

  • A chance to share and celebrate learning
  • Discussions on managing time (including learning strategies to deal with time management)
  • Positive education-related activities, including mindset discussions, stress reduction, meditation and more
  • Homework support (both peer and teacher support)
  • 1:1 “catch-ups” about both school and life outside of school
  • Social-emotional discussions related to large world events
  • Global connections and opportunities to break down the four walls of the classroom
  • Supporting student flex-time lab choices based on needs
  • Plus much more ….

On Tuesday and Thursday’s students attend “flex-time lab” sessions. These run from 11.45am-12.25pm and are by sign up only. Every Friday the students sign up to the next weeks sessions based on feedback from their teachers, support from their advisor and their needs on a subject by subject basis.

As a teacher I upload the classes I am offering and the matching grade levels and students receive a google form to fill out and choose the class for each day that suits their needs. For example, they may need extra support in their Mathematics class on Tuesday and need Design help on Thursday, so they would sign up to those 2 classes. Once the class is at capacity the class is no longer available to be selected. The system is amazing and the students are truly passionate about being able to get extra support in their learning. They are always eager to select their classes for the week and are grateful for the opportunity to have a voice in what and when they learn.

My flextime labs are generally related to design/innovation in grades 6-9 as that is what I teach on a day-to-day basis.

This image below is from my flex-time lab class today. In it you can see grade 7 students in the foreground working on their simple machine design production, on the left in the background students are using 123D Design to create a 3D printed mobile device holder, in the background (obscured) I have students using photoshop to create a client design project and on the right (out of picture) I have a group working on movie design through storyboarding. Truly diverse and inspirational learning happening on so many levels in one room!

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These sessions are my favourite. Students having the flexibility to learn what they need to when it is required and gaining extra support as they need it. One of the things I promote in my labs is to come along and have fun, get ahead and make/create. Be innovative and creative and enjoy the extra opportunity to engage in learning.

A special thank you to Lisa Murray who inspired this post by asking a simple question about what flextime labs were. Questions inspire learning – never stop questioning and encouraging your students to question. Thank you Lisa!

I am truly honoured to work in a school that engages students in learning in new and innovative ways. Where students get a voice in their education and where they are committed to learning in every way as a result. Where leaders encourage staff to share, be leaders and use their expertise in numerous ways. To learn more about flex-time labs, advisory or just to chat about what we do, please don’t hesitate to contact me.

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Craig Kemp

Craig Kemp

I am a passionate Head of Educational Technology at a large International School in Singapore. I am a lifelong learner, dream creator and thought leader. I love to inspire others and find inspiration. Co-founder of #whatisschool, #asiaED edchats and #pubPD.

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