Learning Spaces Aotearoa

Last week, I attended the first Learning Spaces Aotearoa conference put on by Learning Environments New Zealand (thanks to winning a ticket through their facebook page). It was a really inspiring day and the conversations were slightly different than normal edu conferences because of the mix of people present – teachers, Ministry and architects. Across the speakers I heard, conversations I had and the site visits that I experienced, there were some key themes to emerge from the day.

Welby Ings opened the conference with a provocative keynote, with key points that resonated across the rest of the day. By the end of our schooling, students have learned in more than 30 formal classroom spaces all of which impact our cognitive, social and emotional reactions to learning. As people are neurodiverse, we will all interpret and process information differently within these spaces. Welby set out 3 key themes to consider when designing learning spaces, which apply whether it is a traditional 4 walled classroom or a newly built innovative learning environment. Continue reading


Three Thought Sparks

A bit of a different post to my usual ones where I unpack things going on. In this post I simply want to share 3 things that have sparked thoughts for me this week.


These sparks are on very different topics but have all kicked my brain into overdrive at different times this week. Enjoy: Continue reading

Educational Exploring and Seizing the Opportunities

We have an awesome opportunity at Hobsonville Point Secondary School to be part of a team looking to redefine secondary schooling. And I really mean awesome – in all senses of reverence, admiration, fear etc.

It is an opportunity to do something completely out of the ordinary which sounds great but at times can be scary, uncomfortable and unsettling. Now, for me, I see this more on the excitement level of awesomeness but I’m also someone who is scared of heights but absolutely loved the Sky Dive I did a couple of years ago.

As teachers we expect students to be ok with being uncomfortable, learning new things every week and embracing the opportunities that exist. But, at times, we aren’t ok with being constantly in that situation ourselves. This post is essentially about encouraging teachers to embrace those challenges and be ok with being uncomfortable whilst you do so. Continue reading

Creativity as Disobedient Thought

Today we were lucky enough to have Professor Welby Ings speak to us as an end of year inspiration. This post will try to (briefly) cover the hour and a half master class on Creativity that we were treated to. (For an 18 minute version see Welby Ings’ TedxAuckland Talk here).

Learning outside school is not within traditional houses of thought (subjects) that schools put in place. For example when learning to drive we are not taught completely separate aspects of this without thought to the connections that exist. The hierarchies of disciplines that exist in schools are bollocks but unfortunately embedded in people’s minds.

Too often in schools we require students to Continue reading

Enabling Constraints

Snip20131031_3Seeing your Principal send a tweet like this is so incredibly affirming and validating of the work you have been undertaking. Especially when it comes on a day where your team is sharing the outcome of weeks of work putting together the structures for learning to take place in your school.

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The time spent on the vision, values etc. last term was the foundation for the structures coming into place over the past 2 weeks. All our decisions in putting these in place are well grounded in the school vision and values. Then in one day this week we introduced the staff to all the structures supporting the delivery of our curriculum: Continue reading

Mapping, Hacking & Designing

I haven’t posted in the last week due to being deeply involved in mapping the New Zealand Curriculum to enable us to hack it into a better design for learning. This is still an ongoing process so I will blog about it in depth later on but here’s a few photos that may give you an idea of what us Specialised Learning leaders have been up to:

A New Design?

A New Design?

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Ensuring Values Endure

Yesterday was a day where thoughts of making our educational values endure was in the forefront of our minds. We had Mark Osborne visit as one of Hobsonville Point’s critical friends. All the Leaders of Learning (LoLs!!) introduced ourselves to him and welcomed him with our ukuleles before we got stuck into the big thinking.

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Deschooling and Time as a Resource

According to wikipedia, deschooling “refers to the mental process a person goes through after being removed from a formal schooling environment, when the “school mindset” is eroded over time. Deschooling may refer to the time period it takes for children removed from school to adjust to learning in an unstructured environment.”

In this case it is the time for teachers to adjust to that unstructured, no bells environment where we don’t have to rush our thoughts in amongst catching a cup of tea while moderating an assessment, preparing a lesson and chasing up a missed attendance all at once. I should have been prepared for this to hit as Claire Amos had signalled it earlier in the year when she started as DP here in blog posts such as this and the other Leaders of Learning who started a week and a half before me had warned me I would hit this stage as well.

It is just such a foreign feeling for teachers to have the privilege of time to truly reflect, plan and think deeply that I was itching to rush a task along today and caught myself becoming frustrated with the (perceived) lack of progress. Today I have really struggled with deschooling and really taking the time the time to develop what are actually very important matters that deserve time.
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Curiosity and my brain

Today we were lucky enough to have Julia Atkin spend the day with us at Hobsonville Point Secondary School. First of all working on articulating our core learning values and then discussing our results in the Hermann Brain model.

This diagram shows the model that we used with Julia to develop a clearer articulation of our educational values:


Working through this model gave me a clearer picture of why I have seen value in Guerrilla Geography over the last 12 months. Initially I thought this looks really interesting and a fun way to engage students with their learning but I intuitively knew there was more to it. Today I finally drilled down to what is underneath this idea that gives it such value for me.
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