Last year two members of our staff were discussing how many students were leaving school without some of the skills that would really set them up for their future. Conversations like this probably happen regularly in school staffrooms around the world. What makes this story a bit different is that these 2 teachers decided to do something about it.
In May last year, Bronwen Wilson and Kat Wells set up a meeting with me to pitch the idea of a Life Skills Programme. Their staffroom discussion had developed into a shared document where they put together a proposal. The proposal was to combine the skills of staff at Lynfield College with outside specialists to deliver a programme covering topics such as mental health, careers, digital citizenship and sexuality which were considered useful for student’s lives but which they might not get the chance to be developing through their normal curriculum.
Principal Steve Bovaird sharing his Time Management tips
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.
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 →
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 →
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!
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?
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.
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 →
Last week I was lucky enough to be invited to Google Hangout into the awesome Fuse14 conference happening in Atlanta. After many twitter discussions with Grant Lichtman (author of The Falconer) and Meghan Cureton (Director of the Innovation Diploma at Mount Vernon Presbyterian Upper School, Atlanta) we decided it was time to chat ‘face to face’. The discussion also included Claire Amos and Karen Melhuish-Spencer here in NZ and ranged from the state of Design Thinking in our respective countries, how to grow student centred approaches through to the intersection of student passions and community needs. Watch the full video below:
Another full on week at HPSS where I really focused on continuing to make sure the learning was authentic. This was the next step up as I try to continually improve the learning occurring and much of what happened in the week was due to what had occurred the previous week.
The Galileo Educational Network have an awesome inquiry rubric that I regularly refer to. This image below is of the section on Authenticity that I have looked back on whilst reflecting on the weekend:
Week 1 of Term 2 and Week 1 of #HackYrClass. I entered this term excited about the possibilities and also by the challenge set by Claire Amos to hack our classes. 2 aims for Hacking my classes came naturally – they were already my goals for my teaching this term: becoming student centred and increasing the use of design thinking.
Goal 1: Becoming more student centred
On Monday I sat in each of the Big Modules being taught in our school and filled out empathy maps for what it is like being a student at our school. Continue reading →
Entering this term I had set myself the goal of improving in my role as a Learning Coach as I felt this was the area of of teaching I was least proud of in Term 1. Our Learning Hubs at Hobsonville Point Secondary School are a version of Learning Advisories as seen at Big Picture Schools and we see our students every day ranging in time from 30 minutes to 2 hours.
In these hubs we are developing students’ Hobsonville Habits (our learning dispositions) their metacognition (which we are using Hermann’s Brain as a focus on this) their hauora (wellbeing) and also being an active advocate for students in their learning. I had done all of these things well in Term 1 but thought that I could make this more powerful for them by personalising our activities to be more meaningful for these specific students.