Thursday, April 27, 2017

Sabbatical Journey

After 4 1/2 years as Foundation Principal of Hobsonville Point Secondary School I'm about to embark on a 5 week visit of schools in the USA as part of my 10 week sabbatical. Typically you apply for a sabbatical about a year ahead of when you actually take it and it's no surprise that the planned focus might change in that time. As well, it takes time to confirm schools to vist so the final selection can affect the focus.

I initially planned to investigate good practice in project-based and inquiry learning, senior pathways programmes with a strong internship focus, and the development of a dispositional curriculum.

I consulted Grant Lichtman and colleagues who have visited the types of schools I wanted to vist and have confirmed the following:

  • Design.Tech High School (San Francisco). I am intrigued to share our journeys. Like us, they opened in 2014 and their first cohort graduates in 2018. The vision for their school closely matches ours so am very keen to see how thhey have brought that to life. Hobsonville Point Primary School Principal, Daniel Birch, and Deputy Principal, Lisa Squire, will be part of this visit as they are in San Francisco for the week with an intense schedule of visits.
  • Nueva High School (San Francisco). In 2013, along with Claire, I visited Nueva Elementary School and their learning design model had a big impact on my thinking. They were about to open their secondary school so I am keen to see how they have adapted their learning design to accommodate senior students and their programmes. Their first students graduate this year so are at a similar stage in their journey. Daniel and Lisa will be visiting their Junior School at the same time.
  • High Tech High Port Loma (San Diego)
  • High Tech High Chula Vista (San Diego). Ever since viewing the film Most Likely To Succeed when we screened it at HPSS I have been keen to see their model in action. Visits by the SLT from Rototuna Senior High School and one of our middle leaders, Danielle, and conversations with Grant Lichtman have heightened my desire to visit.
  • Science Leadership Academy (Philadelphia). I have been a keen Twitter follower of Chris Lehmann over the last few years and Grant Lichtman wrote in very glowing terms of this school in his recent book #EdJourney. It has been operating for 11 years.
  • NYC iSchool (New York). I wanted to visit this school after reading the following statement on their web site as I want to explore how they have carried out the merging of these sometimes conflicting pressures.
    • The iSchool model is successfully merging the pedagogical ideal of meaningful and relevant learning experiences that teach big ideas and valuable skills, with the realities of accountability, college preparation, and adolescent development.   Most importantly, though, the iSchool model is rooted in a willingness to ask "why?" and "what if?" - to question what has always been, and to shift our focus from what's easiest and most efficient for adults or the system, to build an experience for each student that is personalized and that provides the range of experiences that will truly equip them with the academic foundation required for success in higher education and the critical 21st century skills required for success in life.
After having confirmed the schools I have decided to settle on 3 key questions to explore at each school:

  • What principles have guided the design of learning at the school?
  • Why were these principles decided upon?
  • How do these principles play out in practice?
I believe a concentration on the defining principles will be of greater benefit to me as principles are more transferable across differing education contexts.

I'm excited by the opportunity to see the journey other innovative schools are on. This. along with the chance to have a break from the daily demands of principalship, will  ensure that I am in a good place to push on with our establishment journey. Of course, the other important benefit is the leadership opportunity given to others at HPSS to experience leadership at another level. The school will be in great hands (though I will miss being there!)

I hope you can follow my edjourney on this blog over the next 10 weeks.


Cindy Wynn said...

Wow, Maurie. Sounds so exciting for you and for us, when you bring all the learning back with you to share. I will be following your multitude of tweets and blog posts with great interest. Safe and exciting travels to you. x

Cindy Wynn said...

PS are those actually your feet? Shoes look like yours.

Unknown said...

Can't wait air to read your reflections along the way so we can learn alongside you!

Maurie Abraham said...

Not my feet, Cindy, but purposefully chosen.

Principal@Breens said...

What a wonderful opportunity. I look forward to following your posts as I too have been following some of these schools with much interest!

Rob Clarke said...

Looking forward to reading your thoughts and reflections Maurie, it will be an amazing trip! Enjoy it.


Rosamund Britton said...

Safe travels, Maurie. Exciting times for you and I'm sure those schools will learn from their conversations with you, as well. Wouldn't it be wonderful to set up a network of innovative schools around the world...perhaps we could even have staff and student exchanges?! So much potential for learning. Lucky to have you as our leader in all things learning, including this inspirational trip. Whāia te iti kahurangi ki te tūohu koe me he maunga teitei. Look forward to reading about the treasures and the journey.