Getting through the front door provided some challenges for this country boy.
Design Thinking is at the core of their learning model:
They run a 5 block day from 8 30 to 3 35. Advisories can meet from 8am to 8 30 or students can access teachers for support. The same is true at the end of lunch (12 50 to 1 20). During the 45 minute lunch break clubs occur or advisories can meet.
It's getting a bit repetitive but they are also driven by the need to personalise learning and for it to be as authentic as possible. I saw lots of evidence of students having multiple ways of evidencing their learning.
Apart from Quest, programmes are largely single-subject, or more accurately, single Learning Area (subjects from the same Learning Area sometimes combine). Their schedule is 8 courses 3 times per week. They choose one from Maths, one from History, Social Science and Civics, one from Lab Science, one from Literature and Communcations, one from Design Thinking, Engineering and Computer Science, one from Arts, one from World Languages and one from Additional Requirements (Quest, Athletics and Wellness, Interdisciplinary Studies, Science of Mind). Once they have met the coverage requirements of each (eg Maths 3 years, Arts 2 semesters in same subject, Interdisciplinary Studies 2 years) they are free to select from wherever and have free time.
Their MakerSpace area was cool (as ours is) and they have a permanent workshop manager based there who only teaches one class (3 blocks out of 24). George is available the rest of the time for students to call upon (prototyping is strongly present here). He had some cool machinery like these desk top things:
Learning Advisories were formed but had no set curriculum or, in fact, meeting times.
The highlight of my visit was an extended conversation with 2 students, Sophia and Celia (friends because their names rhyme). I asked them about things like wider student engagement, cyber bullying and misbehaviour. They responded by talking about being immersed in digital citizenship, about the dual elements of freedom and responsibility, how trust is infectious and the default response to an issue is to "solve a problem, find a solution" and described processes very similar to restorative practice.
What did I take away?
- personalisation and authenticity, personalisation and authenticity, personalisation and authenticity!
- Our Learning Design Model (including Project Learning Process) must always be to the front and continually scaffolded. In NZ, it is truly our point of difference
- I have to find ways to access funds on a reasonably grand scale to increase our staffing resource. Nueva is a private school and generates funds to maintain smallish classes and positions such as Workshop Manager, Writing Support teacher (in response to messages from Universities) who is available 8 00 - 4 30 every day to critique, scaffold writing for any student, Maths Lab (anytime access to Maths support) and Peer Tutoring Co-ordinator (I think this was the writing Support teacher).
- We run bloody good visits!
- For a state school, taking all from our community (wouldn't have it any other way!), and trying to prudently manage resources, we are out there!