New Zealand as a nation has some very concerning statistics about the wellbeing of our young people. Whilst there has long been talk about our teen pregnancy rates and heart breaking ability to top youth suicide rankings, in 2017, Unicef still found major concerns around aspects of wellbeing including work prospects, suicide, health and bullying (https://www.unicef-irc.org/publications/pdf/RC14_eng.pdf)
New Zealand, far down the list in terms of childrens’ wellbeing
“What do you think will change for schools under the new Labour Government?”
I have lost count of the number of times that I have been asked this question over the summer. The immediate response of teachers online was joy but it’s not going to be an open cheque, so really I don’t think much will change.
Political ideologies may have indirect impacts on schools by the social and economic policies they enact and the impacts these have on learners’ lives, but the pedagogical approaches of teachers have so much more of an influence in schools. Teachers and schools have always looked at the constraints placed upon us by governments and then continued to design curriculum and learning in the best way they see fit.Continue reading →
After a wonderful summer with my family and plenty of time to reflect on last year, I have set myself some targets for 2018. While doing so, I stumbled upon people sharing their “One Word” for the year. I had done this in 2016 as I strived for Balance. This year, my one word will be: OPTIMISTIC.
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 →
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.
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!
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!
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.
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 →