Monday, March 9, 2015

Aligning Practice with Vision

While our school has been in operation for 5 school terms we've been on the establishment journey for 10 terms. Over that period we spent a lot of time on establishing our vision, values and principles. The intent of the New Zealand Curriculum has been central in driving this establishment. Most of our time during the roll out phase, especially last year, has been spent on prototyping how we might bring life to to our vision, values and principles.

As a consequence of this prototyping we're onto our 3rd Specialised Learning Module structure and accompanying timetable, we've firmed up our Learning Hub and Learning Community curriculum, we've developed a rigorous Big Project planning and process model linked to our values and we've developed rigour around the planning and delivery of MyTime which links it firmly to our Hobsonville Habits.

We're constantly breaking new ground and, in fact, all of these are and will remain in prototype stage as we keep refining and being responsive.

The fact that we're constantly checking our plans against our vision, values and principles has meant that things seem to be fitting quite well. I suspect this is what experts are talking about when they speak of alignment. And it is this sense of alignment which gives me the confidence to work with our team to break new ground when we roll out our approach to NCEA.

At HPSS we are determined to provide our students with a high quality NCEA qualification which aligns strongly with our vision, values and principles and which breaks the cycle of credit chasing by students, 'teaching to the test' by teachers and the inordinate level of stress and assessment anxiety which disengages students from learning.

Last week Claire and I hosted the 13 Year 11 students and their parents and laid out our plans on how they would be prepared to achieve NCEA L2, as a minimum qualification, without devoting their Year 11 Year to the pointless pursuit of dozens of credits which only serves to take their focus off deep learning and understanding.

While we were questioned closely we were able to get our vision and message across and parents left with a great understanding. In one sense I was surprised how well our ideas were received, but on reflection I shouldn't have been. Our vision, values and principles are strong and well thought-out and because our qualifications plans are so strongly linked to them it all just felt right; this thing called alignment again.

Last Thursday I spoke in Wellington at the National Aspiring Principals Programme workshop for secondary. My topic was leading for the future with moral purpose. When preparing for this event I was sometimes overwhelmed by the vastness of such a topic. It wasn't until a few minutes before I spoke that I simplified it in my head down to:

  • have a clear vision and set of values and principles and have the courage to be determined to have them drive the practices and structures you implement and oversee in your school
The leading for the future part, of course, is making sure your vision, values and principles are appropriate for the future we are preparing our students for, but that's another post/story.

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