Sunday, October 20, 2013

Giant Steps

John Coltraine's great jazz album from 1960 has inspired this post's title. While giant steps have already been made, this term will require several more as we bring life to the vision we have been unwrapping over the last several months.

Our new team, who were introduced with ukuleles in the previous post, had a busy day on Tuesday when they had a session with Di doing some Blue Sky thinking drawing on their own schooling experiences and sharing their vision of a dream school.
Ros, Martin, Maliina, Cindy, Pete, Liz and Georgi sharing their Blue Sky thinking

Their next session was a shared reading activity with me going through the Innovations Unit's 10 Big Ideas for 21st Century Learning. After reading about one of the ideas each the new staff shared the main ideas so that by the end they had a thorough understanding of each idea and all were able to bring some of their perspectives to each.
Pete sharing his thoughts on the big ideas

Wednesday was just as busy. It started with our LOLs sharing their thoughts on their experiences when they first started. They talked of how strange it was to be comfortable with slowing down and taking time to deschool and not be worried that it was an atmosphere of patient urgency rather than just urgency. They spoke of their excitement about being able to push the boundaries and of their fears of wondering how they could prove they had a right to be there and the struggles on leaving their former students behind.

This was followed up with Claire, Di, Lea and I revisiting the vision, values, principles and dispositions for our school to ensure we were all at the same place with our understanding.
 Claire presenting on our values

Getting myself in the picture

After this session I had the neat job of taking the new staff to visit our school's building site for a tour.
 Looking down into the student cafeteria area
The team on site

On our return the new staff shared their thoughts on the building with the rest of the team. They spoke of its sheer vastness, the interesting shapes, the framing of the landscape through the glass walls, the special combination of defined areas but also being open and cosy, the enabling nature of the design (around every corner was a learning space which brought meaning to our korero and the flow between spaces and to the outside. I think they were happy!

By Wednesday night I was feeling the urge to bring things to a head in relation to a definite structure to attach our learning design thinking to (think timetable). This was important for several reasons including driving our thinking around budgetting (rapidly approaching), ensuring staffing resource could do what we wanted without having the wrath of PPTA visited on me (urgent), and, most importantly, establishing the frameworks needed so that specific learning programme planning could take place while we still had time to do that. Consequently that night I created a model that allocated staff to kids and provided for the coverage of NZC in a way that maintained flexibility and provided elements of student choice.

I decided to share my thinking with my DPs one at a time because I often find it difficult to explain my thinking and respond to issues which might arise with 4 strong minded people in the room. I asked them to think it over and to share it with their teams.

After a neat session with the staff where they shared their personal sculptures I headed off to the airport to pick up my daughter who had been in the UK for 2 years.
Sculpture sharing in progress
 The next morning I discovered a high level of concern/questions from the SLL team in particular about the timetable plan I had presented. I quickly realised many of the reactions were a result of them not seeing the thinking behind and the flexibility within the proposed structure. Since the new staff were out on a community familiarisation exercise designed by the LOLs I took the opportunity, after more feedback from the DPs, to present the structure and to talk it through with the LOLs. While many of their questions and concerns were answered or addressed by this process they welcomed the opportunity to take time over the weekend to tutu with my ideas and to create improvements.

I spent Saturday amending my original plan based on the feedback they had provided at the session and it is certainly an enhancement. During Sunday I received a detailed outline of an alternative, though similar in many ways, from Kylee. At the time of writing this post a couple of questions I have are still to be answered but I definitely like what I see. While I was working through that some thoughts from Steve arrived.

We're all on the same page and all taking giant steps. My intention last Wednesday night was to nail this by Monday. This will still be achieved, but it will be the end of Monday rather than the start. I'm trying to think of the song or album that will best encapsulate  the feeling when this bit is nailed. I'll ponder on it.

Of course, lots of other stuff gets included in the week as well. Enrolments are continuing (about 110), we're signing off heaps of money for IT network solutions and digital signage, allocating areas of leadership for the full range of operational matters important to a school, attending the roof shout for the secondary school and the NEAL breakfast where Danielle was presenting

and of course finalising uniform.

The only way to cope with a week like that was to go and take giant steps amongst the giants in the Waitakare's
and to dine out with the whanau at Diwali celebrations in the city.

Hanging on for another great week!

1 comment:

Karyn Gray said...

Wow, what a packed, yet exciting week. Love the collaborative approach and the willingness to give it time. Lucky learners for 2014.