Tuesday, July 24, 2018

Learning Opportunities

Term 3 2018 sees us enter into our seventh term of operation - Week 61. That's Pretty tiny in the life of a school.

As we enter into our new term we continue to evolve and grow our programmes- trying to stay true to our vision to create extraordinary learning for every student. To personalise the learning experience and redefine success at school for each and every young person.

This term we have done some very purposeful thinking about how we are using staff and space to the most effect. To this end we have merged some of our Year 7-13 programmes. 

Until now we were operating in a Year 7-10 and a Year 11-13 silo with two combined blocks of time a week where all teachers offered MAI time options to all Year 7-13 students. This was a good step along the journey of joining these two age groups and groups of kaiako together. This term we are trying to further merge these groups.

While these students are mostly still opting into learning options separately from each other- and have maintained their own separate Puna Ako groups we are sharing space and staff more purposefully across both groups of students.

At the start of each block of time during the day students go back and touch base with their Puna Ako teacher to check in with what they are going to be doing and to be accountable for what they said they would do in the last block.

This morning in one hour block of time there were workshops occurring on:

Sustainability- using the Earths resources sustainably

Playlab- a game based workshop to explore the development of motivation skills

Chemical Changes- a kitchen based workshop looking at chemical changes that occur when we mix substances

Positive Changes- a goal setting workshop looking at setting plans for individuals futures

Step and Pump- a physical based fitneess workshop 

Projects Workshop- students needing help on their individual projects could attend this workshop to develop their project plans.

What an amazing array of learning opportunities- and there will be the same range offerred over the next two blocks as well.

In addition there were a range of other students working independently- one space is particularly designated for independent working that is social and collaborative and another is particularly designated for independent working that is quiet and focussed. 

A number of teachers were roaming and conferencing with these learners. Another set of teachers were staffing particular spaces the makerspace, the performing arts area, the wet space, the garden- so that students wanting or needing to work in these spaces had some support.

The big mindset change this term has been in redefining the roles of teachers and students and in how we use space.

At Haeata a student cannot passively turn up to each class and compliantly go through the motions of listening to a teacher, regurgitating information and succeeding. they need to actively plan their day and their learning, using their various teachers as experts for different parts of their learning.

At Haeata a teacher may deliver a workshop to a group of students 4 or 5 times during the week. 

They also have a close relationship with their Puna Ako group- both with direct teaching of social and emotional skills, and in helping them organise their learning and stay accountable to their planning of their learning.

They spend some time staffing various spaces around the school so that individual students can easily go to these spaces and get the help they require for their own planned learning, rather than have learning delivered to them by teachers.

And they also spend significant time during the week conferencing with individual students about their learning. This is as important a part of their position as delivering a pre planned workshop is. 

In fact I would venture to say it is probably going to become the most important role of a kaiako at Haeata as we continue to evolve.

It's been exciting  to be part of and witness the next learning evolution step at Haeata. After attending such professional learning events as the Future of Learning in the recent holidays it is indeed rewarding to consider that our kaiako are working hard with our young learners to set them up for a very different future than the one schools have set up young people up for in the past. 

These students are not guinea pigs; they are not being socially disadvantaged- as recent critics of schools with modern learning environments claim. 
Instead they are being helped understand and prepare for a future- their future- that requires some very different skills and attributes- academically and socially.  

It is not, and cannot be about what our adults feel comfortable with giving control over of. It must be about developing these young people to best be a constructive part of their own futures.

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