Time Warp

Time is such an odd concept in schools. Some days, weeks, terms or years we seem to achieve so much. Yet, most of the time, there is nowhere near enough time to get through everything that we want to do to help our students make progress with their learning. If asked what we need more of, the answer will almost always be time.

I have noticed this even more since moving into Senior Leadership and this term has been a great example. Continue reading

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External Critique

I have had multiple conversations lately about the power of critique in forcing deeper thinking and the lack of critique occurring in many schools. A couple of years ago I wrote about how we might develop a culture of critique within a school. This was focused on actions within the school and looked more at the individual level. I have had great experience of how a Critical Friends set up can help. At Hobsonville Point Secondary School we were all paired up with a critical friend. This worked so well for me that when I left, Claire Amos and I kept up our critical friend relationship going. My recent thoughts have been more around how an external critical friend could help provoke at a school level.

Critique is not something that we do or take particularly well in schools. Often within school we can be threatened by someone asking us why about our actions. Our typical response is to get defensive rather than being open to digging deeper. I have a hunch that external critical friends who are there with that clear purpose may not be so threatening. They aren’t challenging you personally but trying to prompt reflection on why the school has made certain decisions.

Continue reading

What does Student Centred look like?

Student Centred is one of those vague buzzwords that is used regularly but never really defined in practical terms. This post (based on an Ignite talk I gave last week) attempts to paint a picture of what student centred practices actually look like, both in the classroom and from a leadership perspective.

For me, the key to student centred practices is empathy. Truly seeking to understand how students are experiencing their learning, where each student is at and what their individual needs are, so you can help improve their learning. Student centred practice is focused on doing what is needed to help each student understand and excel in their learning.

Sean_MacEnte-

As I have written about previously, data is a great place to start in getting to know your learners, but there is a whole lot more to do if you want to understand them. Achievement data, personal data, surveys, observations and good old fashioned conversations should all work together to help you empathise with your students.

Student centred teaching is not just about what they like but about thinking how what they like/are interested in links with what they need to understand in class. How can their interests be used to help them understand the key concepts and skills from the curriculum. Continue reading

Ponderings

 

If new technology is used in the same way as old technology, the pedagogy ‘wineskin’ is likely to fail

Steve Wheeler – Learning with ‘e’s

 

In my last blog post I wrote a narrative of my day shadowing a Year 10 student. This was a real highlight of my first term as a senior leader. This post shares some of the questions that I have either been grappling with or am about to start grappling with in my role as DP. Some of these developed out of reflecting on my day shadowing, many of them emerged from other events throughout the term.

 

How might we build upon the great content learning to develop more autonomous learners?

What if students didn’t all move through lessons at the same pace?

How might student understanding be checked in ways that don’t stop progress with learning? Continue reading

My Day as a Year 10 Student

Many of you will know that I am at a new school this year and have made the step up to a Senior Leadership position. This meant that I jumped at the chance to take on the #ShadowaStudent challenge that was created by School Retool, IDEO and the Stanford d.School. What a great way to gain empathy for the student experience at Lynfield College – to really find out what it is like to be a student here.

I asked a student if I could shadow him for the day and explained why I was doing this. Let the teachers know why I would be in their classroom wearing a school uniform and got prepared for a day outside of my office!

Ready for PE period 1

Ready for PE period 1

Continue reading

Why Leave My Dream Job?

Early in 2013 I attended an Information Evening about foundation teaching applications for  Hobsonville Point Secondary School. I had always liked the idea of being part of the foundation staff at a school and getting to develop the culture of the place, so was quite excited about attending this and finding out more. The meeting was everything I hoped for and more. Maurie, Lea, Claire and Di set out an exciting vision and I was amped about what this school was going to look like. So amped, I was ringing my partner before even making it back to the car, to tell her I needed to get a job teaching at this school – it sounded like my dream job!

Thankfully I did get the opportunity to be part of the foundation staff at HPSS and it has definitely been my dream job. We have hacked the New Zealand Curriculum; created meaningful learning design and curriculum principles; and I have thrived teaching and learning in such an innovative environment. But now, just 2 1/2 years after starting here, I am leaving my dream job.

Just feel the Sunset/Sunrise imagery is appropriate with this post...

Just feel the cheesy Sunset/Sunrise imagery is appropriate with this post…

I knew this day would come at some stage but after 5 or 6 years, not after 2 1/2 years. So why leave my dream job at HPSS? Continue reading

A Spiral of Brain-Hurty Questions

Last week our Specialised Learning Leader team had a Planning Day together, gathering momentum on how learning design will occur in 2016. A big focus of this day was how things will look/act/be different for the Qualifications years (Yr 11 & 12) as compared to our Foundation curriculum (Yr 9 & 10). The part that has really stuck with me over the next few days though was a discussion on what our Theories of Knowledge are at Hobsonville Point Secondary School.

Image courtesy of agsandrew

Image courtesy of agsandrew

As the main influence on our Learning Design at HPSS is the New Zealand Curriculum, my initial response was to start thinking what the theory of knowledge behind the NZC is. Quickly finding myself out of my depth to extract this information, I turned to some more learned colleagues asking them questions by various forms of messages. Continue reading

Provoking Thoughts Every Week

My role at Hobsonville Point Secondary School is called Specialised Learning Leader. Acknowledging that to most others outside our school, this title means nothing: the crux of the role is around curriculum and learning design. One of the tasks I have had in this role this year is to provoke staff thoughts around learning design each week. I have done this through sharing a weekly provocation: a reading, article, video that could prompt thoughts around designing better learning experiences for our students at HPSS.

Image courtesy of Brian Talbot

Image courtesy of Brian Talbot

Any of you that regularly read this blog or follow me on twitter will know that I read voraciously. This is a big part of my growth as an educator and this weekly provocation is aimed at encouraging all staff to grow by regularly reading and considering the implications on our practices.

The readings are shared via email each week and paper copies are placed on tables in the staff room. This means that we are providing for those happy to read on their laptops and for those who prefer hard copy to read or who may pick it up to read while having lunch or a coffee.

Initially starting with any article that linked towards our school’s vision for teaching and learning, we soon adjusted it to fit with our current SLL team focus: Continue reading

Leading With Design Thinking

I spent a great deal of time at the end of Term 2 focusing my thoughts on how Design Thinking applies to educational leadership. This is something that we have been doing at Hobsonville Point Secondary School, but a couple of presentations I did in Term 2 meant that I had to clarify my thoughts about what it really meant to lead with Design Thinking.

For me, part of why I find Design Thinking an effective approach to school leadership is captured in this quote:

Design Thinking is a Human-centred process (or mindset) for dealing with open, complex problems. Now, to me, ‘open, complex problems’ sums up education in a nutshell. And the focus on empathy that a Design Thinking approach brings is ideal for focusing on the right question – the cause of issues arising rather than the symptoms. Continue reading

NZ Education’s Biggest PD Need

MLE, 1:1 BYOD programmes, Dispositional Curriculums, new Timetables, new SMS & LMS, GAFE or Office365. All ‘new’ ideas coming into schools across New Zealand and all ideas being slammed by people because of the poor implementation.

Speak to teachers at conferences or scroll through any social media and read teachers comments. You will find teachers questioning or slamming ideas because of how they have been implemented at their school or a friend’s/local school. Teachers absolutely have the right to challenge the ideas being implemented but so many of these challenges are not of the ideas themselves, it is actually about the way they are being implemented.

Not enough PD or time spent helping staff upskill and see how they can best use *insert new idea here* is not a fault of the idea, it is a fault of the change management. Continue reading