Sunday, February 25, 2018

Leadership and Legacy:Part 2

My last post featured the example of one of our Q3 (Year 13) students who had responded to my challenge of making 2018, their final year as Establishment/Foundation Students, one of Leadership  and Legacy. How were they going to show leadership and, more importantly, what legacy would that leadership leave.

There have been another couple of great examples of that. One of our younger students has been experiencing anxiety about attending school and part of that is because of conflict she is having with one of her peers, which at times makes her feel unsafe. During one lunchtime last week I went to check in the social space where I knew she hung out to make sure she was OK. I needn't have worried as one of our male Q3 students was aware of the situation and was hanging out with her ("engaging her in conversation to keep her mind of things" was what he told me.) His decision to do that was leadership and the use of calm and caring presence by a student's peer when seeing a need is his desired legacy.

At another time during the week a female Q3 student came to meet with me to discuss a number of issues around supporting students. She spoke of her struggles in her first couple of years at our school when she was trying to support a friend who was struggling with quite serious personal issues. She obviously didn't have the skills to solve her friend's problems but she has realised that the skills she needed were to support her friend to access the right specialist support.

I suggested she think further on the topic and then make contact with our Guidance Staff to see what could come about. A coupe of days later she copied me into her email she sent to Guidance Staff which included this paragraph:

I would like to float the idea of forming some kind of initiative within the school, working with the Wellbeing Habitat, to help raise awareness about how to seek help and also give people the skills to not try to take on the problems themselves but convince them to talk to someone who can. I believe that this will make a massive difference as it will help everyone affected.

Thinking about this topic, coming to talk with me and then synthesising her thoughts before contacting Guidance staff is an example of her leadership. The initiative that she will design with the Guidance Staff and the student Well-being Habitat will be her legacy.

Monday, February 19, 2018

Leadership and Legacy

It's continuing to be an exciting time at HPSS on our establishment journey. This is the beginning of our 5th year with students, so not only will it be the first year with all 5 Year Levels, it will also be the final year for those students who began as our true foundation students in Year 9 in 2014. 


The above visual shows our original thinking about our cohorts once we were complete. While some of the terminology has changed through that journey it still largely reflects our situation. As we develop personalisation and increase specialisation our students move through the Foundation Years, into the Qualification Years and then their Launchpad or Pathways Year. That first group has reached that final stage.

It takes many years to build a sustainable culture, certainly no less than 5, and we are now at year 5. Those initial foundation year students have 1 year left to leave their legacy. My message to them over the years has always been that I know what sort of school I want, but the school we’ll get is the school they create!

I’ve asked them to think about their legacy. Is it to be some sort of foundation art work or trophy or similar taonga to stand in our school or is it the taonga of a sustainable respectful culture.

So many of our Q3 (Year 13) students have taken up this challenge. Last week one of our students organised senior buddies for the Year 9 students in her Learning Community and got the Year 9 students to complete a 'Rose, Bud, Thorn' exercise about their initial experiences of our school. They did this with the support of their buddies. Out of this exercise she was able to identify students who were feeling a bit alone and connect them with others. She was also able to help some sort through some personal relationship issues that had emerged. Following on she has collated all of their responses ready for feedback.

This is an example of her Leadership.

The Legacy component has emerged from her Learning Community Leader working with her to have a Buddy/Year 9 session included in the weekly Learning Community programme. I expect this model to endure in this Learning Community and may well spread to the other Communities.

Our focus, as a school, for the year is on developing a sustainable respectful culture and our focus for the term is developing whanaungatanga. This student has embraced these areas of focus while displaying leadership and beginning to create her legacy.

I really want our Q3 students to be practised and ready for their lives in a very short 12 months when they’re out there! Í’d love to have then coming and going as they please determined by their learning needs! I know that would work for some of our learners but also not for all. This creates a tension. I’ve talked with them about starting the year with a tight hand on the rudder and my desire to have conversations with them as the term and year unfolds re loosening the hand on the rudder for individuals, groups, or the whole cohort.

If the majority of our Q3 students embrace the challenge of Leadership and Legacy in similar ways to that described above, the hand will become lighter on the rudder quite quickly, which, in turn, will be a great legacy that they leave for future Q3 cohorts.