Monday, 26 January 2015

We begin again.

So in less than a week we kick off year 3 of Hobsonville Point Primary. Big thanks to Lisa and Sharyn for all their work and support. Big thanks to the establishment BOT who have just finished their term as governers of the schools. Maurie who supports challenges etc (very warm and demanding) and to those on the front lines (the amazing teaching staff).

What makes the start of the year special is that for me, holidays, elicit thinking, wondering and endless possibilities.

We will be working collaboratively over the next few days and I am looking forward to seeking out the why behind learning decisions. Making sure nothing has been planned to far ahead (they don't know all their learners as yet). Getting them to the point of engaging, inspiring and innovating to help grow amazing learners.

Collectively our roles in the school is to look at ways of creating the most positive impact on our students. In recent workshops around the future of both our schools, Maurie and I have driven lots of our thinking through the starter of "How might we....." 

On our staff retreat this is the focus we have, for example our first "how might we" on the list is

How might we foster ownership of the "why" in our learning values so we can have a shared understanding of the practice?

The question allows us to dig deep without any preconceived answers and our hope is full collaboration into the conversations we have together.

It allows for the generating of ideas, it means we can go blue/yellow (Hermanns stuff) to start and to dig deep. We can follow with the green/red once we have been generative.

Like many, my goals of holiday reading have been not as robust as I would have hoped, my excitement lies with the conversations ahead. It lies with leading these through the lens of the learning values, it lies with growing the new staff we have (see Reid's blog for info on what they went through). It mostly lies with action, lets get doing this.

Reflecting on what matters

While in the process of starting a new learning community, reflection has been key.

But, how do you develop this practice in teachers, parents and students?

Why should we reflect and through what lens?

What part do the key stakeholders in this play? i.e the students

How does it impact on practice and outcomes? Does it?

When thinking about developing a learning community based on solid purposeful reflection, I was determined to make it impact on practice the most. I often think the practice link is the one missing from the equation, pedagogy can get in the way! People talk MLE/MLP etc but not at the grassroots level of learning and teaching. For me the movement needs to become about practice and the more reflective and sharing of it we are, the more powerful it becomes.

At a recent GPC we discussed "the art of teaching" and how this needs to be a focus. In Maurie's latest blog he references it as well with the strong push of just do it! I fully agree, but what do you "Just Do?"

You need a lens to think reflectively through. In a recent post I wrote about the importance of learning values, this to me is a good lens to look through when reflecting.

It works because you can target your reflection to an area, that as a team you have co-constructed the meaning of. There is a common understanding of the why, how, what. It means you can reflect, celebrate and question through a shared understanding.

We reflect using this lens around everything we do, whether it's questioning student engagement, asking students for feedback around our practice, reflecting on the learning design process, everything!

The framework allows staff to feel safe and ok about being challenged as it's through a lens we all own. They are now open to more critical conversations and challenge and can share celebrations in a concise way.

Another area that we have begun to reflect on is our essence of learning statements. We have asked ourselves is this the essence of learning are we living it out. Great conversations around the "why are we doing things" have continued because of this. Is the practice we are using actually getting us to the essence of learning and the outcomes we expect.

Honesty, courage, questions, growth mindset are keys to this reflective equation. Building staff capacity to see how it can increase student learning and engagement, as well as growing the staff as a learner.

An interesting aside is that we are seeing more and more that unless you engage with all of the learning values and link them, learning/reflection/design isn't as powerful.