Sunday, December 8, 2013

Back in Maurie's Time

Back in Maurie's Time Orientation Days were about kids waiting for their names to be read off a list, kids listening to lots of information and kids doing lots of assessment. Ours was a bit different! After a brief mihi our learners were treated to a staff rendition of Marley's Three Little Birds just to assure them everything will be alright! Down in their Learning Communities (Taheretikitiki, Tiriwa, Waiarohia) they were given a jigsaw puzzle piece each and had to match them up to make the face of their Learning Coach and then join their Learning Hub. They ten rotated through Learning Hub activities designed to get them to know each other, a Project activity which had them preparing the food for that evening's parent get-together and a Learning Module exploring what makes school boring.
Pete leading students off to Learning Community

Bryce's Hub

Megan's Hub protecting their stepping stone values

Lea's Hub working on what makes a school less boring

Ros' Hub constructing their tree

Preparing food for the parents

Preparing for the parents

A Hub Tree

A few onions for dinner

Jill's Hub planning the school
Our students went home buzzing about their day and we were inundated with parents that night who were introduced to their child's Learning Coach and added to the Hub Tree.

Check some of my colleague's posts out on the right side bar as they share their reflections on the Orientation Day.

Wednesday was a very special day in our school's young life. Glen and Otene led a service at 5.30am which involved the burying of a mauri stone and Waitemata Harbour shells beneath the entrance to the school. This was a moving occasion. We shared breakfast at school and continued to strengthen our ties with iwi. Didn't happen so much Back in Maurie's Time.

Later that morning 3 students and 4 staff from Ngaruawahia High School visited as they are developing a Modern Learning Environment for their Year 9s and 10s next year. Two of the teachers were students I taught when I started my career there in the 1980s.

Back in Maurie's Time there wasn't a lot of professional learning being delivered by all of the staff. We kicked off the week with Danielle posing some interesting questions around digital copyright.

Martin's gesture appears to be indicating some sort of evil genius as the group ponders digital copyright
The day ended with Lea sharing how her team have been able to embrace the Learning Design Model to assist our learners to develop their passion projects. This is the next step in testing the rigour and validity of our model.

Then it was Ros' turn to lead a discussion on the difference between Drama and Bullying. We had an interesting debate on if bullying has become more prevalent or not with the internet. My view is that it hasn't but it has become more difficult to get away from because of the ubiquitous nature of the on-line environment. "Back in Maurie's Time" bullying was pretty brutal and schools often turned a blind eye to it.
Ros leading the discussion. er advice was to "Trace to a Face". If you are putting something on-line about someone check that you would say it to their face.

Steve and Lea sculpturing the difference between drama and bullying

Then it was Sarah's turn to run 2 sessions on Big Projects. Check out Liz's blog to see the developing icons to describe each step of the Big Project Design Model which, once again, validates the Learning Design Model the SLLs have developed and has it driving the learning in all 3 main elements of our curriculum.
Sarah linking the Big Project work to our values

Sarah inspired us to "Capture The Buzz" and modelled the use of staff feedback to refine the processes and procedures for leading effective Big Projects. I missed the next bit but gaveLiz a standing ovation in the lunch room as she had offered to "Die in the Ditch" over Big Projects!

Then Danielle ran a great workshop on setting up Registered Teacher Processes on the MyPortfolio platform. The planning on the whiteboard below was appreciated by staff and those more in the know became mentors for those of us who were having issues (thanks Georgi and Ros!)

The next morning our plans to have Andrew Cowie deliver some work on digital citizenship were foiled by a lengthy power cut so it was postponed. Danielle immediately stepped up and ran us through a workshop on digital manners.


A simple exercise, led by one of our colleagues at the drop of a hat, had us pondering digital manners with many of us, especially myself, reflecting on some of our ill-mannered behaviours! And once again an activity was modelled for us to use with our learners.

The week was, like many, very special. It began with us working with our students from next year and interacting with their parents, laying our mauri stone, and experiencing some outstanding collegial and responsive leadership from a full range of our staff.

Friday was, however, a bit sad as we paused to acknowledge the deaths of 3 workers on our building site one year ago.

He mihi, he aroha ki nga whanau o nga mate.

Then we heard of the passing away of the great but humble saviour of South Africa, Nelson Mandela. He has been an inspiration for those of us committed to the principles of restorative practice and the power of forgiveness. While saving a nation he was able to touch the lives of individuals and for myself, in particular, his words about the impact of the stopping of the rugby at Rugby Park in Hamilton in 1981 have driven my belief that by thinking globally, yet acting locally you can help change the world.

Sunday, December 1, 2013

It's coolsome walking up the stairs to excellence

What a stunning week to follow on from the previous stunning week. The previous week began with world-leading guru Julia Atkin working with our new staff as they unpicked their preferred ways of operating according to the Hermann's Brain analysis. It ended with 3 days of world-leading guru, Margaret Thorsborne, working with us on understanding the principles of restorative practice. This week ended with world-leading guru, Pam Hook, working with half of the staff on SOLO Thinking Taxonomy and then with individuals, Megan, Di and Cindy, on applying it to our thinking around assessment. Whew!

But wait there's more! We were treated to what I consider to be world-leading thinking around learning design and curriculum structure by our own colleague.

It began on Monday with Di kicking off a session outlining the work her team had done on identifying the future-focused fluencies that had been distilled from the NZC. They have proposed the following as the areas we wish to move our learners from being functional to fluent:

  • Literacy
  • Numeracy
  • Communication
  • Technical
  • Problem-solving
And of course they presented their work totally integrated into our existing model that is driving our learning.


Di and her team are driven by the non-negotiable of making learning explicit to the kids. As well, she modeled the openness to questions and comments by declaring she didn't want to be in love with the idea and blind to other views. Awesome!

Lisa then ran an outstanding session linking our learning design model to the fluencies and using the SOLO model to assess against them. It was truly coolsome!


The rest of the day was a real buzz as staff then got into their module planning teams and, with their new learnings of our model, began producing the outlines for some great learning programmes. Liz's latest blog post outlines the modules she is currently working on.

In her presentation Lisa picked up that there were some gaps in some people's understandings with SOLO so she presented a great workshop on Tuesday morning for those who needed more. This is where she spoke of helping students to walk up the stairs to excellence and how her use of SOL gave her a new way of thinking about her own teaching practice. Coolsome!

"This plus this plus this = thinking". Simple!

And Kylee ran a session firmly linking SOLO to elements of our Learning Design Model.


Amongst all of these great sessions I took Arohanui staff who will be running a satellite special needs class at our school through the site.
Our stunning auditorium

James, Arohanui Principal, doing a dance of glee under the purple light in the sensory room
But the great hits kept coming! On Wednesday Sarah and her team ran a full day on Big Projects and their place in our curriculum. You must check out both Sarah's blog and Liz's blog where there is a fuller exploration of the work they presented.

Sarah's passion was evident throughout her presentation and was summed up with her introductory words, "We not me!"

Her team made a powerful link between the Big Project Framework and our Learning Design Model and to the wider HPSS curriculum.
It didn't stop there! On Thursday night I had the privilege of seeing 2 staff make great presentations at Eduignite at Mindlab.

The Pink D - Danielle linking retail to teaching

Sally laying down the HPSS model
I was pretty knackered and was contemplating not going as I had had a late night on Tuesday with the Henderson Lions talking about the Runway Challenge and on Wednesday another late night with a BOT/Parent Governance workshop, but I am so pleased I went to see the team in action.

And then Friday rolled around and Pam Hook entered the building.

The moment of awe when Pam revealed the power of SOLO

I hope some of my colleagues blog about the work with Pam as I'm running out of steam. If not, I'll post some thoughts in the coming week.

Talking about the coming week: we have our Orientation Day tomorrow for our enrolled students. We'll have about 120 Year 8s with us for the day which will give us the opportunity to start to know our learners and to share with them our exciting plans. It was mid September 2012 when I last was in a school with students and I am super excited.

Lea has pulled together an exciting day for our learners and I'm looking forward to reflecting on how the day goes. That will come in a later post.

Staff have been very busy and have participated in much professional learning. This week at Kitchen Table we are still to get reports from Steve and Yasmin and their time at a Thinking Conference, Di and Jill have to report on their Financial Literacy workshop and Claire and the newer staff will have heaps to share about the SCIL 2 day conference they went to at ASHS on Thursday and Friday.

It's a relief we have navigation lights to guide us through the busy air space we are operating in as we prepare for landing!

Landing lights set in totara posts to demarcate the end of the Hobsonville Runway which is on our site.













Sunday, November 24, 2013

Restorative Practice

Three days of workshops with Marg Thorsborne on Restorative Practice ended the week which started with Julia Atkin challenging the thinking of our new staff. We have a great opportunity to work together as foundation staff and students to create a truly restorative school. I believe that without the restorative practice component we will not be able to claim to be student-centred. That's the wero that has been presented to us.


All of our brains were exploding with the insights Marg Thorsborne shared with us along with the challenges she laid before us


Shandy and perfect fish and chips is a great date with an Aussie sheila


Working the circles with HPSS staff and Marg Thorsborne


Processing it all on Saturday with a solo paddle. The mind was alive with the biology of restorative practice and the window, boxy thing.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Sunday, November 17, 2013

We Will Rock You


We were greeted by this mural across the wall when the staff of HPSS walked into the


Our job was to discover the power of flexible spaces in supporting future-focused learning and to participate in collaborative problem-solving activities to broaden our understanding of what powerful learning can look like.

Our challenge was to programme a robot. Not one like this (unfortunately)


but more like the ground hugging cockroach type.

Staff responded with awe


a strong competitive focus


all-out collaboration


and approached the start line in a co-operative and collaborative manner!


But the week wasn't just rocking with fun activities. Lea has forged some strong connections with local businesses and Pete and I did the same when mountain biking at Woodhill on the weekend. I am continually surprised by the willingness of people to engage with what we are putting in plaace for our learners. They seem as excited as we are!

On Thursday night it was great to participate in Danielle's EdchatNZ on twitter as the wider on-line teaching community is grappling with the concept of student-centred learning. Danielle's leadership of this community is truly stunning and is contributing to the growth of all of us at work.

On Thursday and Friday Claire was with her Professional Learning Team at the National Library undergoing their own PL so that they can lead the promotion of digital citizenship across our school. I'm looking forward to their feedback but you don't have to wait as Georgi the Search Engine has already posted a blog on her thoughts.

Friday was spent with me burying myself too deep in budgets, a local principals' association and then dealing with urgent property and equipment issues too late into a Friday evening. I think my focus is going to have to be quite different over the next few weeks as real deadlines are stacking up like landing planes at our airfield. These things have to be done but I am going to have to search for ways to keep up with the thinking and planning of my colleagues as they bring life to our thinking about curriculum. One way to do that is to keep reading the blogposts from the team as they live out our desire to be open and share all of our thinking and ideas.

Liz has posted a great series of thoughts on the work around projects which she has been immersed in and Steve's latest post is not only valuable in the sense of the content but also in the model of presentation he followed to allow him to be in two places at once.

This week begins with a day with Julia Atkin (mainly with our new staff) and on Wednesday we will be treated to 3 days from the wonderful Margaret Thorsborne as we explore how restorative practice will be central in our school.

Our world is going to be rocked all week! Can't wait to tell you about it.

Monday, November 11, 2013

"In The Light"

Outstanding feedback from ERO today about our readiness for opening in 2014 had me, initially, wanting to share their thoughts widely, but then, on reflection, decided it would be better to share with our team tomorrow first. So, I've decided to post a few pictures that captured events throughout the day.

 The railway station-type clock in our soon-to-be-completed building had stopped 2 seconds before midnight so reminded me we still had plenty of time left.
It also reminded me that even a stopped clock is exactly right twice a day!


Claire and Lex with the ERO team inspecting the physical spaces in which we will deliver our innovative teaching and learning models.


Steve proudly displaying the serial robotics kit he convinced me to buy for a couple of hundred dollars which comprises a toothbrush and a bit of paper!


Staff meeting with ERO framed with a highly appropriate caption that summarises how ERO felt after meeting with them.
These staff talked of the truly collaborative nature of their working environment and leadership which allows all to shine; a climate we must be determined to maintain and grow.


Traditional Ninja ERO photo!


Even I am allowed my time to shine and share the big picture before the real experts take over.
Di sharing the rigour her team has constructed to track curriculum coverage and learning progress.

The strongest feedback from ERO was about leadership. My personal reflections on their feedback has steeled my resolve that, despite the challenges and setbacks from time-to-time, one of my key roles is to challenge the full group of leaders (in our case all staff) to contribute strongly to a climate of mutual respect and high trust and to allow others the opportunity to shine "in the light" (Led Zep). 


Sunday, November 10, 2013

Darkness on the Edge (of Town)

The best way to keep up with the actual work we have been doing and what reflections we make on that work is to visit the blogs on the right sidebar as many staff are blogging regularly on their involvement in this great journey.

The LOls were off site on Thursday: Di and the SLLs in a room at the Catalina where they have been looking closely at QA for the modular elements of our curriculum and Lea and the SLLs were at Sally's whare in Muriwai finalising their planning for the Professional Learning and Planning we are about to embark on.

It was cool to hang out for the day with the rest of the staff though I must admit I concentrated on preparing for BOT meeting and other admin type stuff.


Sarah spent a lot of the day working with her Project Planning Team and it was while coming out to take a break that Martin paused to make a comment to me about the nature of the team work he was experiencing. He commented that he had done a lot of study about teams and collaboration and that he had worked in many teams but had come to the realisation that he had, in fact, never worked in truly collaborative teams but was now doing so. When I explored with him what he was experiencing he shared that, like in all of the teams he was part of at HPSS, there was a team 'leader' but that everyone contributed equally, everyone was challenged equally and all points of view contributed to whatever the outcome was.

Later on at morning tea Danielle, who was about to leave for NEAL commitments walked in and announced she was excited. When quizzed about that she explained that for years she had been involved in project learning that was just mush, but that the work Sarah and her team was doing was applying real rigour to this important element of our curriculum.

Later in the day I shared these comments with Sarah who responded by saying that the clear and rigorously justified vision and values created by the Senior Leadership Team was acting as a trampoline from which everyone else was able to launch from.

That evening I presented the curriculum elements and timetable plan to the BOT who were impressed with our thinking and planning. After the hui our Governance Facilitator told me that he expected us to deliver something quite different but not as different as what we did present. e was impressed.

Now to impress ERO with it all on Monday.

Friday was just as busy and as exciting but the highlight for me was running into Georgi The Search Engine who had returned from a day visiting libraries throughout Auckland on a SLANZA tour with Leigh. She was alive with enthusiasm and possibilities, not because of what she saw but because of what she didn't see. Her parting comment was something like, "We're going to shake a few cages (and be a truly future focused library)".

Friday night's highlight was ColinMathura Jeffrey favouriting my tweet made at the museum talk on beauty!

closely followed by another wonderful performance by the Moderm Maori Quartet (musical director: Tama Waipara).
See them if you get the chance!

Apart from a paddle on the harbour (once again in choppy seas) with Lea, a whanau swim afternoon at Muriwai and a great MTB in Woodhill with Pete, the other weekend highlight was Art in the Dark where people were struggling to escape the clutches of a pohutukawa and its roots:

A horse being brought to life by being towed by a bike:
And my favourite was the two dudes on bikes creating enough power to power 2 laptops, a chandelier and, best of all, a turntable which was playing Bowie's Ziggy Stardust!
Catch you later in the week!