Thursday, October 20, 2016

Conscious Thought

Over the last two weeks we have been running an induction programme for 32 of our new staff-an induction programme that will continue for the majority of this term and for two weeks in January before our ākonga begin.

Every activity we've run has been very intentional and had conscious thought put into the purpose and outcome of the activity. It would have been very easy to just create a set of activities that would be enjoyable and fun and/or a set of activities that would "tell" our new staff all about the curriculum framework we have developed and the way we want to work at Haeata but that's not what we wanted to do.

We created a set of four guiding purposes for our induction programme and we have used our curriculum framework learning principles- which have a direct link to our school values to design the learning we have been doing together. Relationships are at the heart of our learning principles- but also important is authenticity, connectedness, culturally intelligent, inclusive, social, open and personalised learning.

Induction Purposes:
Build excitement in who we are and what we do
Getting to know the rest of the team- personally and professionally
Understanding Haeata-tanga- the way we will do things at Haeata, our identity at Haeata- individually, as a collective and as a Haeata team
Make connections- individually and as a team- within the team, and out in the community- whānau, local community, Christchurch

The term began with a mihi whakatau followed by kai and mihimihi so that connections and introductions were formed. Day 1 saw a myriad of icebreakers designed to help people get to know each other on a superficial level quickly and as a whole team. 

This was followed by our SLT presenting their digital korowai for ten minutes each. Staff were asked to sign up to a timetable to present their own digital korowai over the next fortnight. We know we will be a school that makes continual and regular use of technologies, but we didn't want to put technology training as such into the programme but rather consciously require people to build their technology skills by using technology to complete certain induction tasks. We've been blown away by peoples presentations- staff have been sincere, and honest and shared more of themselves than we had any expectation of- given we've only known each other a few days. We've laughed and cried with people as they have shared their journeys- both professional and personal.

Day 2 saw a workshop conducted by the EBOT on the well established values for the school. In the afternoon our kaiārahi (leaders) ran a passion unconference. Again this was a conscious decision to introduce staff who were not aware of the concept of an unconference, and of the language and expectations that come with an unconference- smackdowns, making choices on the spot, not doing how many people will attend a session etc. We expect to be working in a future focussed area of education and unconference is a big part of the PLD scene in future focused education currently, so we wanted to expose all staff to this early on.

Day 3 saw more icebreakers introduced- but this time rather than in the large groups- splitting into our hapori (learning teams), so that we could begin building deeper relationships with those other kaiako they were going to be working the closest with. The SLT ran a workshop titled unschooling and led some thinking about the importance of using the privilege of the time we have this term to de stress, to revive, and to read and reflect- to revisit our assumptions about learning and schooling and to build new beliefs together.
This afternoon saw staff introduced to their own Managing My Learning google site, so that they could begin reflecting and gathering evidence of their learning from the start. A practice we expect to be ongoing and continual for all staff and ākonga.

Day 4 saw our hapori leaders run their own session- a combination of icebreakers and some general chatting about excitements and fears, and some question gathering. Everyone was also led through a workshop around the learning principles we will use at Haeata for designing learning.

Day 5 was an Amazing Race. We began with a shared breakfast- 35 people who didn't know each other 5 days before all working together in a very small space in a very small kitchen to prepare and eat kai together. And it worked.

Again, conscious thought was put into creating Amazing Race teams to bring people together across the entire staff again, as the last two days had been spent a lot in hapori groups getting to know those people better. We are very consciously building opportunities to build relationships across the school as well as within hapori. We know that people might need to move hapori at short notice in February- when enrolments are more clear. We also know we have 10 more staff starting over the next four weeks, and another six who will begin in January. We need to very consciously build relationships now, but ensure those relationships are able to bend and sway and welcome new members to their teams easily as the term goes on.

Teams were given instructions and set off on their race while the SLT prepared and cooked a BBQ lunch. In the afternoon teams created a digital presentation of their race and the weekend with the presentations being shared over refreshments and some prizes being awarded as we all reminisced on the first week together.

We have used the frameworks our kaiārahi and kaiako will use with ākonga- learning principles as a design tool, breaking our time up into Kauapapa Ako ( the large group all learning together based on some of our big kauapapa, Puna Ako ( smaller groups working together to consolidate and extend some of the concepts from kauapapa Ako, and some MAI time (for people to follow their own lines of learning and wellbeing). We have integrated wellbeing activities throughout the weeks, just like we expect kaiārahi and kaiako to do with ākonga.

SLT modelled karakia, waiata mihi and tuku mihi all week and now hapori have taken on responsibility for that a week each over the remainder of the term.

Feedback from staff was overwhelmingly positive. They have relaxed, they have got to know each other in multiple ways. They have connected. Developing cultural intelligence has been a constant theme. Things have been social and open- everyone has shared honestly with each other. We have given some space for personalised learning. Staff have begun to be exposed to some of the backbone of the Haeata curriculum framework in a really authentic and inclusive way. And relationships have consciously and intentionally been at the heart of everything we have done.

"Conscious, reflective, intentional action is the bridge between theory and practice. " Jan Robertson

A video summary of Week 1:

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