Sunday, November 18, 2018

DisruptedNZ has arrived

It's been an interesting week for the education sector, with most of the focus on teacher industrial action. It's disappointing the Coalition Government is dealing with the grief but that's the nature of politics. There does seem to be quite a nice shift in overwhelming community support for teachers, which is cool.

My week started with a bit of nervousness around the RNZ Insight programme which was aired last Sunday morning. Education Reporter, John Gerritsen, had spent some time in our school talking with me and some of our students. You always get a bit nervous about how balanced such an article might be, especially since I knew John was speaking with a range of principals to get a range of views.
Lots of people told me how balanced they thought it was. I must admit I was once again frustrated with the situation those of us who are trying to innovate and transform the secondary school experience for our students. Despite the couple of hours of recording at our school it seemed that the article focused on the fact that 8 - 10 families left our school at the end of our first year and then once again when we introduced our NCEA model. Te Haeata in Christchurch was given the same treatment with the focus on the number of exclusions they experienced in their first year.

What impression of the schools are the listeners left with?

But the most disappointing aspect was that while I, Andy or Claire did not criticise what other schools were doing (which we had some authority to do as we have all taught in such schools) 2 other principals spoke ignorantly about MLEs (carpeted barns), why integrated learning didn't work (using as evidence an ill-advised model they had experienced which had one teacher attempting to cover a range of specialised subjects - thereby consigning more well-researched and rigorous models to the same discard pile) and, most offensively, the claim that project-based learning or inquiry learning was a primary school approach and had no place in a secondary school where students need to do well in things like Physics etc (I advise him to visit our school where students are excelling in these specialist subjects through an inquiry, cross-curricula approach).

Why do principals who have no knowledge or understanding of the approaches used by HPSS, ASHS and Te Haeata believe they can go about panning them?

This question leads me to the second frustration of the week. A couple of primary schools were reported as stopping having prizegiving ceremonies. Whether you agree with their decision or not, my view would be that they gave it careful consideration and made what they thought was the best decision for their school.

But then what happens?

We get another RNZ report!

I wonder why some school leaders feel the need to comment on these types of decisions made by other schools. Those other schools will now, no doubt, have to deal with some pushback from their community based on the views published in the article.

Anyway, the week ended well. #DisruptedNZ was launched!

We've had enough of fighting the types of pushback outlined above by ourselves so have come together to support each other and also to reach out and support those teachers trying to push innovation in their own schools, sometimes in the face of several barriers.

We've launched a Facebook Group, DisruptED and we're also on Twitter @DisruptedNZ. And last Friday we launched our first of a fortnightly series of podcasts where we want to reach out to teachers throughout NZ and help connect the innovators that are in all schools. The first podcast was a conversation amongst ourselves sharing our thoughts on leading in this space and in the future we'll be talking with people like you. We want to encourage teachers to share with us their stories of innovation and disruption, so please use the various platforms to share your stories.

Here's the link to our first podcast on SoundCloud.

We finished off the day on Friday by being a panel for Kāhui Ako Across School Leads:

When running along the beautiful Te Henga trail this afternoon and struggling with the distance, hills, heat and ageing body I felt less alone and more connected as a school leader than ever before!

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