Elevating teacher spatial competency (TSC) as a professional teaching practice that impacts classroom communities

Year: 2019

Author: Leighton, Vicky

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

The time-honoured classroom, new or otherwise, remains the most common environment for educating young people. It is a place of engagement, collaboration and work for both teachers and students; as such it is a complex space which consciously and unconsciously impacts the agency of teachers to implement professional teaching practices with consequences for the learning outcomes of students.

It is suggested that teachers are not commonly aware of their spatial competency; if they were, they would teach more effectively as spatial attributes can be used to facilitate teaching practice. This is the hypothesis that drives the research which is embedded in the ARC Linkage Project, ILETC.

This paper looks at the conceptualisation of teacher spatial competency (TSC) through an understanding of the relationship between the built environment and human behaviour to recast it as part of a teacher’s professional practice and a separate teaching skill. Understanding how teachers actively manipulate space to improve pedagogy remains one of the ‘missing links’ in the learning environment discourse. The paper will report on the theoretical construct that explores the concepts at play which culminated in the development of a practical, classroom-ready TSC measurement app (Class-e(valuation).

The discussion will focus on the elements most relevant to the conference theme, in particular, how spatial competency can hinder or enable teachers’ abilities to promote student inclusivity and agency through education. The impact of this idea is manifold. It suggests that educational settings are places that shape what people do, how they engage with one another, and how they consequently contribute to the construction and deconstruction of community and teacher identities. It implies that the built environment allows for a future that can be purposefully constructed and manipulated, acknowledging that the environment itself is also shaped through this interchange. It invites exploration into the connections between student learning and teacher spatial skills and engagement. It places the impact of a teacher’s spatial professional practice squarely in the centre of the learning environment debate.