Sunday, August 3, 2014

"I can't believe how much she has learned!"

Student Voice is a rallying call as one of the key elements in a relevant, student-centred learning environment. Often, if student voice is present at all, it is merely confined to co-constructing contexts and activities for learning. At HPSS we certainly include student voice at this stage. Near the end of last term students took part in a workshop where they explored out Term III concept of citizenship and then brainstormed the contexts which they would like to explore as they increase their understanding of citizenship. In the following week teachers met in teams to design Modules based on this student voice and following that students then selected the Modules, with the support of their Learning Coach, which interested them.

But it is our students'ability to talk openly, confidently and knowledgeably about their own learning and learning progressions that has impressed me, made me even more confident about our vision and model and motivated me to tell parents at our recent Open Evening that the learning that has occurred at our school has exceeded my expectations.

The quotation in this post's title was made by a mother of one of our students after a 30 minute Individual Education Meeting where the student, supported by her Learning Coach, shared her learning and her progress towards achieving her learning goals. All day and into the evening I saw and heard the full range of our students talking about their learning and observed parents beaming with pride and increasing understanding of what our school is about: learning, not subjects and confident, informed young people who can do more than regurgitate facts and formulas.

Later in the week staff were invited to share their IEM experiences. Comments that stood out for me were:
"I like the feeling that kids see meas on their side."
"I am reminded of the power of conversations."
"It was heartening to see the change in parents. Many spoke of how they now saw their children in a different light."

It reminded me of last term's Big Project evening which featured in my last post where our students engaged parents and visitors in discussions about their Big Project and the learning. I knew then that something special was happening.

At HPSS we are enjoying showing hospitality to many visiting groups every week. So far they have come from Australia, Singapore, USA and all around NZ. The visitors are free to interact with our students in the learning environment and spend a lot of time talking with students about their learning. I feel really privileged to witness these discussions. Students, all of them, are able to clearly describe what they are doing, what the Learning Areas are and why they are carrying out this learning. Visitors often walk away from these conversations disbelieving that our kids are 13 - 14 years old only.
Visitors get to see students collaborating in their learning

TVNZ's Seven Sharp spent 4 hours filming at our school a couple of weeks ago as they were preparing a 4 minute piece on how learning can now look with a focus on our school and Mindlab. After watching a little of the filming from the sidelines and hearing our students respond to some quite challenging questions from the reporter I was confident that despite any spin that might be put on the topic that our kids, speaking confidently about their learning, would shine through.

And they did! Check out the clip here. One of our DPs, Claire Amos, facilitated the shoot and has written a neat reflection on the article which fleshes out the points covered.

Right at the end of last term we also surveyed our students and parents on how they were feeling about certain aspects of the school and for their overall impressions.
What students said about quality of relationships between students

What students said about the quality of relationships between students and teachers

How students described their overall view of HPSS

How Parents described their overall view of HPSS
I can't believe how much we are all learning!

1 comment:

Ros MacEachern said...

Great reading, Maurie (as ever) and I particularly like the colourfulness of this post! I also like that you show the pens and paper and students collaborating!