From Knowing to Empathising

The start of a new school year brings with it a whole bunch of new students to get to know. Principals around the country will be urging their staff to get to know their learners and reminding them of the importance of relationships to enable learning to occur. So what does this actually mean? How do we get to really know our learners?

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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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Co-Teaching in Action

Secondary teachers primarily spend their time teaching their class, in their room, in their own personal way. One of our biggest concerns when starting to teach at Hobsonville Point Secondary School was around how the co-teaching (team teaching, whatever you want to call it) was going to operate. The major positive working in our favour was that while holding concerns, we were all keen to try it out.

This mindset held us well over the first year. We tried things out, worked on our teaching relationships, gave feedback and planned for how to improve our co-teaching. Continue reading

Open Spaces Filling Up

Yesterday I had the joy of visiting 2 open learning spaces: first of all as a team, the Leaders of Learning visited Albany Senior High School and then in the afternoon Maurie and I joined a group from the Ministry of Education in visiting the construction site for Hobsonville Point Secondary School.

I have been to Albany Senior High School before, but that was for Ignition Unconference in the holidays so this was the first time I had seen it full of students and in full swing. Anyone who struggles with the idea of how open the modern learning environments are should visit a school in action. The noise level is in effect lower than what you would find in many classrooms as the staff and students are aware that any loud noises they make will have an impact on lots of others and so self-regulation seems to emerge.

More importantly, I was impressed by 2 major factors here: the tutorial system and how research driven they are as a staff. We arrived half way through one of their 2 one hundred minute tutorials that occur each week. In this time each teacher (including DPs) is with their 15 student tutorial group – 5 yr 11, 5 yr 12 and 5 yr 13. This time is like a study period for the students where they decide what they are working on but the tutor teacher also uses it for catching up with individual students. The small nature of the groups means that strong relationships emerge and tutor teachers can track, challenge and nurture the students in their group.
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