Sunday, February 9, 2014

Hobsonville Point Secondary School - setting out to redesign the secondary school experience

There are some outstanding posts by my colleagues that both capture the design and structure of how we are shaping the learning experience for our students and reflect on how the start has gone.

Claire's post is a great summary of the way in which we are structuring learning and Megan's is an excellent description of the role and function of Learning Hub, Learning Coach and Learning Team Leader. Steve's, Sally's and Kylee's capture their personal reflections on our first week with students.

The expectation we are placing on ourselves is immense and it is challenging working within an environment where every single person shares those high expectations, not only of themselves but also of each of us. It was with this trepidation that on the night before staff came into school that I started thinking about the key messages I wanted to share with staff. I know it had taken me a couple of days after the holidays to tune back into our kaupapa so I wanted to touch on a very few key points to assist staff to tune back in.

I started by talking about the paradigm of one which is the normal state of play in a NZ secondary school - one class, one hour, one subject, one teacher, one set of activities, one pace, one way of teaching, one assessment, one way of leading.

It is the time for the paradigm of many - many ways of learning, many contexts for learning, many ways of teaching, many ways to show evidence of learning, many excellences, many ways of excelling and being bright, many leaders.

Our intent is to shift to the paradigm of many by personalising learning, powerful partnerships and by empowering learners.

It is also the intent of ERO to challenge schools to make this shift. In 2 recent reports - Priority Learners and Achieving Success in Secondary School - there is a clear call to focus on individual students, implement a responsive and rich curriculum, use assessment to modify teaching, build positive relationships with students and whanau, track and monitor student progress and review teaching.

You can't do this in the paradigm of one.

We argue that, as well, in the paradigm of one you can't realise the New Zealand Curriculum's aspiration for learners to be confident, connected, actively involved life-long learners.

I reminded our staff that we are not just opening a new school, but that we were also purposefully setting out to not only redesign the schooling experience for Hobsonville rangatahi, but also to lead the way in influencing the wider secondary school environment in NZ. We are doing this because we are committed to bringing life to the potential of the NZC and to make secondary schooling more relevant for young people.

We are realistic enough to know the work is going to be tough and demanding. It requires new ways of leading, new ways of teaching and new ways of learning.

We are all going to have to be guardians of our vision, mission, values and goals and we must contribute to and operate within a culture of respectful critique.

We all expect to have our practice questioned and challenged. I also reminded our staff that while it is easy to accept and commit to this type of culture we will find it personally challenging at times. I know I have!

Already we have done ground-breaking work on curriculum interpretation and learning design, on developing a dispositional curriculum and on innovative professional learning design. We've also brought our community along with us.

We've still got to figure out how to track, assess and report on curriculum coverage and student achievement, but that, along with the myriad of other things we don't yet know we haven't done yet, will all be resolved because we have brought together a team who are fully committed to our vision of truly personalising learning and building all school instititions with the student at the centre.

All in tune!

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