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

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Agency and Ownership

Last week I attended uLearn15, an epic conference in Auckland with 1700 teachers and 250 sponsors and exhibitors. On the first day I ran a Breakout session called Agency and Ownership: Why the How? Initially planned as a smallish interactive workshop, it proved very popular as people chose their sessions so it grew into a large presentation to around 250 people with a lot more of me talking from the front.

Core Education filmed this presentation and streamed it live from their conference website. You can watch it here (jump to 11.50 where it actually starts):

Or, if you don’t have an hour and a half spare, this post will cover the highlights.

We have all heard the terms Learner Agency and Student Ownership of Learning. We all have the same vague understandings of what these are about. This presentation was focused on working out they actually look like in the classroom. What the practices are that we as teachers can implement to enable and empower students to truly own their learning.

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Deeper Learning

This week’s provocation at Hobsonville Point Secondary School was Grant Lichtman’s Deeper Learning Cheat Sheet. To follow up on this our Learning Design Kitchen Table (20 minute staff ‘meeting’) was an activity based upon that reading.

We started off by looking again at the tips that Grant has disseminated for increasing student engagement, curiosity and student centred practice.

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Many of these strategies are commonplace and found every day throughout our school. But we recognise that we can always improve our practice. So, we focused on how we can scale up or amplify our practice on these. Continue reading

Sir Gateway?

Many people may get annoyed with this post, in fact it may even be considered sacrilegious by some. Sir Ken Robinson is extremely well known, liked by many and revered by some. His TED talk from 2006 has been watched almost 35 million times. Yet on finishing his most recent book I was left with an overwhelming sense of “meh.”

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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

A Catch Up

I have just had my largest break from blogging since I started 2 and a half years ago. Blogging is a big part of how I reflect and progress but priorities have shifted a bit lately with family circumstances. I have still reflected, tweeted, discussed with coteachers, critical friends and colleagues; but the blog has sat here much quieter than normal. That said, here is what has been happening in my classes lately:

Learning Hub

The early part of this term was focused on students’ IEMs. This is a 3-way conversation between students, their parents and me as their advisory coach. The highlight of this day is being part of genuine learning conversations. Celebrations and challenges are shared, discussed and implications considered.
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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

Pursuing our Community Passions

Last week Lea Vellenoweth inspired our students by talking about pursuing their passions (see her blog post for what this talk covered). We followed this up in Hubs by creating bucket lists of what each student wanted to do or achieve in their lifetimes. To extend this further, we spent Friday’s extended Hub session working on a community bucket list – what is it that we as a community could achieve in the 4-5 years we are at school together?

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Developing Coteaching HPSS Style

We are continuing to develop the effectiveness of our coteaching at Hobsonville Point Secondary School. Over the past 2 weeks we have continued reading into effective coteaching practices from overseas and comparing these to our practices here at HPSS. Much of this overseas literature is based in Primary and/or for including special educational needs into mainstream classrooms.

With this gap in literature, we have identified that some of our practices are already exceeding that shared online. There is, however, plenty left for us to learn and improve. Since our last session on coteaching models we have focused on the role a teacher can play in supporting their coteacher.

Last week, our reading was this table from a research article by Wendy Murawski:

 

This table was helpful for us, but many staff felt that we already did these activities and in some cases could provide examples of partner roles that exceeded those in the table. Continue reading