Sunday, March 30, 2014

Reflecting and Reporting

This week I was suddenly closer to 60 than 50! It only seems like the other day that I was only half way to 60. For time to have gone so fast I must be having one hell of a lot of fun!

The day itself was a true pleasure. Staff thought they would dress up as me.

The two things that alarmed me about this was that they had this stuff in their wardrobes and that they thought they were dressing up as me - they just wore a random combination of bad taste clothes!

I was really blown away when the whole school ambushed me in the cafe and sung Happy Birthday and launched balloons they had been secretly blowing up.

On the slightly more serious side birthdays are a time to be reflective - one of our important Hobsonville Habits that make up our dispositional curriculum. A lot of our staff regularly blog (check them out on the sidebar) which is a great way to model being reflective. The courageous aspect of them being reflective is that they choose a tool that is open and public. By their very actions they are further deprivatising the practice of teaching and making teaching even more visible - something all teachers need to be embracing.

Right now teachers throughout NZ are writing reports for their students. They are spending hours ticking boxes, compiling grades and writing comments for learners they may not yet really know. Hours are being spent proof-reading and correcting, compiling and printing and issuing to parents, in many cases 3-4 weeks after they are written.

How many teachers are taking the opportunity to report on their own performance, effort, progress and achievement, let alone publishing their reports for anyone to see. Recent posts from Steve, Ros and Sally have them doing that exactly. Sally makes comments about herself against each of the Hobsonville Habits while Ros asks the questions of herself that coaches are currently asking of their learners in preparation for their IEMs.

We are reporting to our parents as well. Once a fortnight Learning Coaches send a brief email to parents on their child's learning goals and how well they are going towards achieving them.

As well, last Tuesday evening we held a parent workshop, as part of our reporting to them where we had a 80% turnout. Parents met in their child's learning community and rotated through 4 kitchen table workshops on Big Projects, Specialised Learning Modules, Learning Dispositions and Learning Hubs - the key elements of our curriculum.

Parents participating in curriculum workshops
In 2 weeks time parents will be invited in by their children to have a 30 minute conference with them, supported by their Learning Coach, where they will discuss this term's learning and what their goals are for next term. Seems like effective and valuable reporting to me.

The neat thing is that we don't confine ourselves to just reporting on ourselves! Check out Claire's post on her report on the Minister.

Wandering around during the week I am still impressed with the high levels of engagement I am seeing throughout the building. Through a range of different modules and contexts students have been engaging with the big concept of Identity in ways that are linking the important Learning Areas of the NZC.

Liz ensuring students use the NZ Engineering Standards in their work!

Composing and performing music to express Identity

Visualising our pepeha - our community's identity!
I pinch myself that we have only had 8 weeks yet students are talking about their stages of learning in relation to our Learning Design Model - they know when they are Exploring, Making Sense, Focusing, Generating, Testing, Refining and Sharing. One student told me that she was involved in a process of 'Ideation' in her attempt to make sense and enable her to focus within her project!

They are also engaging actively with the Hobsonville Habits and knowing which Habit they are displaying and which ones they need to strengthen.

Visualising the examples of when habits being displayed
And right in the mix is the fantastic Big Project element of our curriculum. Check out Sarah's post on this part of our curriculum and view the YouTube clip which puts the Big Project element right in the Big Picture.

As a said in my last post the Professional Learning we do as a staff each Friday morning is a highlight. This week was no exception. Di, in a brief but powerful workshop, linked our Learning Design Model to the writing of Learning Objectives which made me embarrassed when I realised the poor quality of my Learning Objectives in the past. This was an epiphany for me. ut wait! There was more! Lisa lept to her feet and with a very messy drawing clearly explained the way in which higher order thinking is scaffolded both with a lesson and across a whole module.

Fridays are such a buzz after these sessions.

I was rapt with my cycling shoes and gloves for my birthday but this note that was encased in a balloon and delivered to me by a student took my breath away.
This will do as my report card for the meantime.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Visible Footprints

Until very recently we had spent a lot of time whistling in the dark - researching, theorising, planning, imagining what a redesigned secondary school would actually look like. I have to pinch myself that after only 7 weeks of operating as a secondary school with students with only the last 3 actually in our building we are seeing our imaginings becoming a workable reality and we are beginning to leave a footprint.

Yesterday, Saturday 22 March, was a special day for establishing our footprint. Lea, along with Sally, Megan and Ros, was at the Big Picture Conference in Wellington and Saturday was her day for the presentation on how Big Picture Kaupapa has influenced the thinking behind our school.

Twitter was going crazy with ravings about her presentation.

The storify collection on the conference can be viewed here

As well, Claire was going hammer and tongs at the Festival of Education in Auckland.

She put out a challenge to educators to accept the need for change in our schooling system and then later in the day chaired a panel of innovative thinkers. The following day she arranged for a group of our students to be part of the Youth Summit at the Festival.

I think I got the short straw but did enjoy the opportunity to be a provacateur while making a keynote at the Auckland Technology Teachers Conference at Auckland University. After hearing a hell of a lot of deficit thinking from them as they responded to a previous speaker I challenged them not to be that group of technology teachers who sit in the corner of the staffroom grizzling about change and compliance, claiming 'we tried that in 1972 and it didn't work then' and blaming primary schools for low achieving students etc, etc. I managed to get out alive and have been invited to speak to Rangitoto College's Emerging Leaders Group. Not quite as exciting as Lea's offer of employment in Sydney!

While at the Festival of Education Dinner that evening I was prompted to reflect on several matters. Minister Parata gave a stirring speech which was well-received, but the introduction and thanks was over the top with its crawlingness and the mismatch between her rhetoric and her shameful focus on testing and grading is a hard rat to swallow.

It was the three young people who took the stage to talk about their schooling experiences that was the most heart-warming and affirming, They were each asked to suggest what should happen in schools to make them more relevant for young people. Arizona pleaded to have out-of-class learning included in evidence of learning and used her experiences as Head Girl at EGGS as an example. Tristan Pang (12 years old and off to full-time university study next year) asked that schools have passion days when students could concentrate on things they were passionate about to keep them engaged with learning rather than concentrating on timetabled academic classes for the whole week.

Thanks for describing our school!

More schools are going to have to follow our lead. Secondary schools still largely look like what they did when I first attended in 1971! There's no way I would go into a hospital or dentist that was operating the same as it did 43 years ago.

Despite the tinkering around the edges secondary schools are still based on the model of one group of kids, in one class, for one hour, with one teacher, being taught one subject, by doing the one set of learning activities, at the one pace and completing the one same piece of assessment at the one time with none of the learning in that one class linked to the learning in their other classes down the corridor and having very little say in the learning activities they are all doing and in what the assessment will be.

Schools must move to the paradigm of many: many ways to group learners, many contexts for learning, many teachers to support the learning, many ways of teaching, many different activities to engage in, many ways to show evidence of learning and many paces for learning.

The following photos show the range of programmes students have been experiencing in our very important MyTime aspect of our curriculum when students determine where they need to be, with whom and doing what to support their learning. They can choose individual or group learning support, numeracy or literacy support or extension or they can pursue a passion.

The very important Friday morning staff Professional Learning is quickly becoming a highlight of our week.

And while this is all going on staff are tracking their journey. Check out the blogs on th right hand side which are being updated continually. I reckon you should check out Claire's post on blended learning which is the best succinct outline of the importance of blended learning that I have seen. And Megan's post is a great champion for conferencing as an important tool for tracking and reporting on learning. And you should check out Steve's honest reflections in his mid-term report card. And finally check out Georgi's description of our emerging library.

Sunday, March 2, 2014

One Chapter Closes For Another To Begin

The last week was our last week based at the wonderful Hobsonville Point Primary School. I'm really pleased we didn't move straight into our building as it has given us the opportunity to keep our focus on the learning relationships and the pedagogy rather than buzzing out over our building and its spaces. It has given us the chance to get used to the shared spaces that are a feature of the primary school.

After last weekend's great Open Day Monday started with the group of students who acted as hosts at the Open Day being filmed as extras for a video that is being filmed to promote Hobsonville Point.

Lights! Camera! Action!
It's been neat to experience another round of our timetable which includes a different range of Modules from Big to Small to Spin. Each involves different sized groups of students with different combinations of teachers learning in a range of different spaces and configurations.

Small group collaborating around the campfire with Kylee

Cyndi facilitating a large group at the waterhole
A lot of my time throughout the week was concentrated on getting ourselves and our stuff ready to move to our building. Thursday was a neat interruption to that as we held our first ever Athletics Sports at the Millennium Institute. I was trying to figure out where all the spectators were when I realised they were all competing!

It was a fantastic day during which students and staff got right into the spirit. This Tuesday we will honour our first ever champions and record holders.

Bryce kitted out as official starter
I spent almost all of Friday moving stuff and helping to ensure our infrastructure was going to be ready for our move in on Monday. This was after our Friday morning Professional Learning time which was once again a highlight of the week. This week Ros took us through developing our critical friendship understanding with our critical friend and reflecting in our MyPortfolio.

Collaborative Professional Learning setting a great vibe
I am fortunate to be paired up with Steve Mouldey  and look forward to having my practice challenged by such an innovative and future-focused thinker. You can follow his regular thought-provoking posts in his blog and you should follow him on Twitter (@GeoMouldey).

We both came to the conclusion that an effective critical friend relationship is one that embraces the concept of warm AND demanding. It has been neat to see this concept emerging as a central part of our wider kaupapa for the school.

On both Saturday and Sunday a lot of time was spent at school making sure our building was ready to welcome us tomorrow. Pete did an outstanding job on both days, not only moving people's resources into their spaces but also setting up the auditorium for our celebration. Sunday afternoon evening was spent with Ben and Raj moving printers and getting my head around the wireless and printer environment.

But Saturday night was all about .........

The Boss