Over the course of this term, SENCOs have been meeting with Across School Lead, Libby Hainsworth, to collate the anonymized learner needs and support for our ākonga, across our cluster of schools. In our recent hui held on 25 March, we came together view the pooled data of our primary schools and intermediate. This hui has begun the process of identifying patterns of strengths and needs across our schools and identifying what other information do we wish to glean in our analysis of the data. In our next hui which will be held early in term 2 we will look deeper into the pooled data, which will include that of our college.
We were pleased to have attendees from five out of seven schools and the participation and contributions of the group strongly set the path for how we can respond to our challenges:
We began by exploring stories of how we foster the competencies of managing self and thinking in the classroom and then created a visual pathway of the stories from year 0 to year 10.
A hexagon exercise offered the opportunity to unpack definitions of our collective understanding of key competencies, capabilities for learning, learning habits, learning dispositions, and values. And a jigsaw reading exercise provoked us further in our quest for common understanding. The slide show from the session has links to the readings for the jigsaw exercise.
We are looking forward to continuing our discussion about the capabilities for learning over the course of the year.
This week, we brought together our WSLs, ASLs and members of their Senior Lead Teams to begin to explore aspects of leadership. Building on feedback from last year, we are strengthening our leaders' ability to effect change with their colleagues through their inquiries and projects. Supported by Evaluation Associates, we began this year with a hui that focused on relational trust as a foundation for leading change.
"Trust is the connective tissue that holds improving schools together"
With this key idea from Bryk and Schneider in mind, and with our own rich experiences and prior knowledge to the fore, we:
“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” Maya Angelou
A big thank you to all of the participants in this session. A big shout out in particular to Ashwini from Capital Montessori Preschool of our ECE community. Great to have everyone together.
To frame up this session, and to put this in the context of future sessions we looked at Stephen R. Covey’s Circles framework.
The complexity of our circle of concern raised questions about the challenges facing schools, and teacher capacity – this is a demanding job with lofty aspirations and can be a heavy load to carry emotionally. Some great questions emerged considering the importance of relational practices within our wider communities, and the challenge of ‘how to build relationships whilst doing the work?’. The tensions between the wellbeing of teachers and students, alongside organisational constraints, are big questions that will be good to explore further in future sessions.
The groups discussed the relationship between our own behaviours (what we have control over) and intrinsic influences. How teachers and students manage themselves relationally within the classroom are influenced by a variety of factors. Hidden values and personal belief systems, emotional states and thoughts all influence behaviours.
Teachers (and students) are also often triggered emotionally by the behaviours of others. The group looked at Nathanson’s (1992) ‘Compass of Shame’ and how the behaviours we exhibit, or see in students, are often ‘the acting out’ of responses to feelings of ‘shame’. With a greater awareness of some of the ‘warning signs’ we can be better placed to navigate these challenges with increased skills, kindness, and compassion.
We rounded out the session by considering the shift from ‘Circle of Control’ to ‘Circle of Influence’ – a shift from teacher centred relationships to relationships between students. This has provided us with considerations to build into the next sessions around issues of exclusivity vs open inclusivity, creating opportunities for social connectedness, and some of the factors affecting individual students and their social isolation.
The next session will offer an exciting opportunity to continue our journey towards building relational capabilities both for teachers and students.
Titiro Whakamuri, Kōkiri Whakamua
Looking back to reflect, in order to move forward
Thank you to everyone who attended the session - we appreciate your willingness to share ideas and to think critically about both our histories and our responses to them. For those who would like to dig a little deeper into the Doctrine of Discovery, or the documents we looked at - the link to the Presentation is here. We are looking forward to the ongoing journey of this Community of Practice and sharing our learnings with you all.
Popoia te kākano, kia puawai.
Nurture the seed and it will blossom.
Browse our summary of all the different workstreams and projects that have been underway this year below...enjoy!
“There needs to be constructive alignment between the methods of the teacher and the opportunities and potential offered by these new spaces. You start with the teaching, you train people how to teach differently, and then move into the new spaces.”
Thank you so much to Newtown School for your generous welcoming of Kāhui Ako teachers to explore your modern learning environments and talk to the teachers who use the spaces.
We began with some provocations, led by Nicki Read (DP at Newtown School). She challenged us to place ourselves on a continuum based on some of the myths of collaborative learning spaces (that they are too noisy, that they only meet the needs of some students etc). Nicki finished her introduction by asking us to think of the collaborative space as an extra teacher. How would we plan for this specialised extra teacher?
The conversations Nicki’s provocations initiated were then carried through into the exploration of the spaces themselves. Participants were free to explore the modern learning environment at Newtown and had the opportunity to ask Newtown staff questions as we wandered around. It was great to connect to other teachers and share Newtown’s learning, such as room organisation and self-directed learning.
“Peel everything back to see the "why", so options for change become clear. The "why" is important – there can be many versions of "what" you build. There has to be a clear purpose for each learning space – a general purpose space ends up being everything and nothing. Plan for deep understanding of the rationale behind your space – this takes time.” Waimairi School case study
Resource links that we shared:
The morning session on cultural responsiveness led by Lynette, Claire and Mitch challenged participants to consider how they can create a curriculum that actively acknowledges Māori. Beginning with ‘A call to action for Aotearoa/New Zealand schools’, we were introduced to the https://putatara.education.govt.nz website, a resource to support schools and teachers to develop learning opportunities for sustainability and global citizenship that are place-based, inquiry-led, and focused on participation for change.
“The stories and histories relating to your school’s geographic location will assist you to instill a deeper sense of personal identity and belonging for every student. Focusing history learning in a familiar place allows assumptions to be challenged and new perspectives to be explored. While you may choose to show the links between local, national, and global history, place-based history also acknowledges the different experiences of Māori across Aotearoa and allows students to explore local tikanga and the events that have shaped their own community.”
Professor Wally Penetito, Ngāti Hauā, describes place-based education as having three strands:
We were all encouraged to think about how we can incorporate Māori culture and identity into our teaching practice.
In the afternoon session on Inclusive Student-Led Learning, Chrissie explicitly made the connection between Universal Design for Learning and student agency. When teachers actively embrace the UDL principles and planning cycle, they will be helping students to be purposeful and motivated, resourceful, and knowledgeable, strategic and goal-oriented - all aspects of student agency and all vital themes in the key competencies.
The overlap with our wellbeing work is becoming clear. Knowing our students and putting them at the centre of our planning is the first step for any planning.
The discussions and sharing of practice at both of these sessions have been both rewarding and challenging. We look forward to continuing our communities of practice next year.
This title completely sums up the provocative presentation Sarah Te One (Core Education) presented to WSLs and other interested educators last Thursday. After a brief outline of current thinking about children’s rights, Sarah focused on the word ‘agency,’ “Agency is often thought about one-dimensionally as only being about the child’s voice but it means much more than that. Agency is really about whether or not the child/learner can influence what is going on around them. Unless the child is able to exercise choice, then there is no agency.”
New Zealand has been a signatory to the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child for 27 years. The Convention is a balance between three potentially conflicting ideas - children as autonomous; the role of the family to raise children in their own ways; and the State’s responsibilities to ensure that children can access social services, like health and education and justice too, so that they experience a good quality life growing up to feel a sense of belonging and responsibility to society.
The major points we took from Sarah’s presentation are that when we are working with children they need to be included from the beginning to the middle, to the end. Voice is not enough. Our job is to help children understand that they have rights. The Lundy model shows how we can spread students voice so they have influence:
Sarah has challenged the WSLs and teachers in our Kāhui Ako to revisit the way we engage students in our inquiries. She reminded us that the way we inquire into students’ needs could be far more reciprocal. The design of an inclusive local curriculum that is a key feature of our collective work is an ideal space for us to exercise our thinking around the ideas Sarah shared.
You can view Sarah’s slideshow here and please contact us if you’d like to know more.