Hauora – a New Zealand Perspective on Wellbeing

My twitter feed lately has been full of tweets and blogs from the UK with the hashtag #teacher5aday. A movement started by Martyn Reah it is all about bringing teacher wellbeing to the forefront of people’s minds. His initial blogpost (along with Teach Meet presentations) that started the movement spoke about how teachers always worry about students wellbeing and then challenged teachers to look after themselves more under the headings of:

  • connect
  • exercise
  • notice
  • learn
  • volunteer

This reminded me of last year when my colleague Bryce challenged Hobsonville Point Secondary School staff on our wellbeing in an Ignite talk during Staff PD.



In New Zealand we tend to use the Maori perspective on wellbeing – Hauora. Continue reading

Ungoogleable Questions Update

By far and away my most read post on this 2 year old blog is a post on Ungoogleable Questions from almost 2 years ago. I have been meaning to update this for quite some time and #28daysofwriting has finally given me the prompt to do so.

Since I ran the workshop with staff and generated the questions shared in my earlier post I have focused on helping students develop their ability to inquire into ungoogleable questions (major shout out here to Ewan McIntosh who set me on this journey). I have used a variety of prompts, provocations and question development frameworks over these last 2 years. I have continued to read blogs (Kath Murdoch and Bo Adams blogs have pushed me in this) and books (Can Computers Keep Secrets by Tom Barrett, The Falconer by Grant Lichtman and A More Beautiful Question by Warren Berger being the most influential for me) to further my thinking and practice and it is about time I share my tips now. Continue reading

A Buzzword Ban



A couple of weeks ago I spent the 1st 2 days of my eFellowship at a retreat in West Auckland. To ensure we properly explained ourselves as we discussed inquiry ideas for the year we had a ban put on the use of edu-buzzwords.

We collated a list of commonly used buzzwords in education and were given 8 poker tokens. Each time we said one of the terms we had to pay a token into the “Swear Jar”.

It was an entertaining addition to the 2 days but also played a big part in ensuring we explained what we really meant and didn’t rely on jargon. Continue reading

Powerful Partnerships in Action

Our school has the phrase “powerful partnerships” in it’s mission statement and to me this is the aspect of our school that sets us apart as quite different from other Secondary Schools in our area.

We (aim/try to/do) live out these powerful partnerships in:

  • Learning Hubs – partnerships between Hub coach, student and parents to support each student to pursue their vision of academic and personal excellence
  • Learning Modules – partnerships between learning areas to enable connected, more powerful learning for our students (as detailed in yesterday’s post)
  • Big Projects – partnerships between our students and local community to pursue PBL opportunities

Today was a great example of Powerful Partnerships. We held our 2nd annual Waitangi Celebration Day. Students from Hobsonville Point Secondary School combined with Hobsonville Point Primary School to learn together for the day in 90 minute workshops run by teachers, students or community members. Truly living out the Partnership Principle of the Treaty of Waitangi. Continue reading

Constraints Causing Creativity

I first came across the idea of enabling constraints when investigating Complexity Theory for my thesis. The book Engaging Minds gives great examples of how the right level of constraints are required to truly cause creativity to occur. This was echoed recently in a post by Tom Barrett in his post about setting the right level of constraint for learning in your class.

As this school year started, Hobsonville Point Secondary School was entering it’s 2nd year of operation and that brings new levels of constraints. 2 Year levels to plan for so double the students and some (nowhere near double) new staff on board. So, how to evolve our structures.

First of all, the 3rd generation timetable:


Specialised Learning Modules are co-taught by 2 teachers and last year had 2 teaching blocks, we wanted to deepen this so worked a way for each to have an extra hour this year. We also wanted to leverage teacher-student relationships more to enable learning so students will stay with the same teachers for a semester (2 terms) even though the focus concepts shift in the 2nd term from Culture and Diversity to Relationships. Continue reading

What If?

One of my favourite lesson starters is to give students a What If question and give them a few minutes to generate multiple answers. This serves a couple of purposes. 1) they immediately have something to do when they enter class rather than waiting for everyone else to arrive. 2) it gets the brain working in a creative, divergent fashion to start the lesson.

I have spoken about this a few times online and people seem to like the idea. Natasha Low asked if I had blogged about these but I hadn’t so here are some examples of what I mean.

I try to give between 3-5 minutes and set a target of at least 7 ideas written down in that time. Some prompts work better than others of course and students do range in their generative capabilities. Continue reading

Getting to Know My Learners

Day 2 of #28DaysofWriting and it was Day 1 of school for the year. That meant that today was spent with the 12 Year 9 and 10 students in my Learning Hub (our HPSS version of Learning Advisories). Part of the day focused on getting to know each other and part of the day on a challenge introducing them to one of our Hobsonville Habits.

I have 2 aims in the first few days of school every year:

  1. Get to know my learners
  2. See them go home happy

Today I got to know my Hub through a range of activities involving them speaking to each other, writing answers, drawing pictures and creating sculptures out of material such as play doh, paper, straws and pipe cleaners. I also learned a lot (possibly more) by watching how each of them approached each activity. Continue reading

2015 Was A Great Year

Creative Commons image sourced from: http://pixabay.com/en/sylvester-2015-fireworks-435376/

Creative Commons image sourced from: http://pixabay.com/en/sylvester-2015-fireworks-435376/

An ex-Principal of mine (Prue Kelly at Wellington High School) used to start the 1st Teacher Only Day of the year saying that it had been a great year. By setting that expectation from the start we just had the ‘simple’ task of proving her right. I am facing a year looking completely full of awesome (yes in the true sense of the word: reverence, fear et al) challenges: Continue reading