Perfect Day…

lou reed

…Just a perfect day
You made me forget myself
I thought I was someone else
Someone good

Oh, it’s such a perfect day
I’m glad I spent it with you
Oh, such a perfect day
You just keep me hanging on
You just keep me hanging on

You’re going to reap just what you sow
You’re going to reap just what you sow
You’re going to reap just what you sow
You’re going to reap just what you sow

In the week that Lou Reed the innovative, ground breaking musician passes on it is a timely reminder of how people; individuals and groups can make a difference and leave a mark on the world.

The lyrics above highlight the strength of my feelings in regards to the opportunity, journey and ground breaking steps we are making in preparation for the opening of HPSS 2014. I feel like today was a huge mark in this journey as the Specialised Learning Leaders emerged from their cave to present us with the structures they have developed to enable the Specialised Learning Modules. I have a hunch that I may not be the only one musing at this moment over the enormity of what we saw today. I felt inspired and empowered by the flexible structures they have put in place, where not only will the learners be co-constructing their learning, the teachers as learners, will also be negotiating and co-constructing the teaching and learning programme within the big modules, small modules and spin off modules.

It was a “perfect day” on multiple levels. Firstly seeing the structures being placed into hypothetical application. The excitement around the potential of what could be was clearly obvious to all in the room. The back channel on twitter was alight and there was virtual and physical handstands in action. This was taken a step further as we moved into our cross curricular teams to start the ball rolling with what that may look like in our teaching teams. Each team allowed the autonomy to develop as they see fit. The dialogue about how the team saw “identity” as a concept had both depth and breath as everyone sparked off each other.

This was developed further as we moved back to curriculum areas to throw ideas around. The time went so fast and people were struggling to draw themselves away from the inspired conversations they were having. We came back as a group and saw how the team had cleverly taken us through a mini version of the planning process we will be undergoing prior to each term for the cross curricular modules. Cindy reminded us that we also need to be mindful of allowing support through the possibility of big questions and allowing learners to move from there, bringing us back to not driving the learning to far and waiting for student voice, this was perceptive and timely.

Maurie was on a high as we all were, he reminded us that we need to not take these moments for granted, how we are right at the cutting edge and pushing the boundaries of what education should and can be. He also reminded us that this is one of the three components of our HPSS curriculum. The “hubs”, “big projects and passion projects” are held on equal pegging. These aspects will also bring the vision and values of the school to life to ensure we… “create a stimulating, inclusive learning environment which empowers learners to contribute confidently and responsibly in our changing world.”

Maurie must feel proud of the team he has developed and I believe that everyone in the team, felt it shift to another level today. The innovation and work ethic of the SLL team is amazing. I know I keep going on about it, but I feel very, very, very lucky to be a part of this awesome team of inspiring, innovative and boundary pushing colleagues. As Di has said in the past, this is a once in a life time opportunity. Today really drummed that belief firmly into my mind. Di, Steve, Lisa, Kylie and Jill made the vision seem tangible today in a way I have not felt it before, they should be extremely pleased with where they have taken the curriculum and where they are taking us. I hope that as a team Megan, Yaz, Lea and I can continue this in the “hubs” and I know that the awesome Sarah is well on track! The professional learning team of Claire, Danielle, Ros, Cindy and Georgi and the project team of Sarah, Pete, Martin, Liz and Bryce are also developing their aspects of the HPSS PLC and we all grow as we learn from each other. They are making huge inroads to the “Big Project development”, partnerships and potential to amplify knowledge to another level. The hope of cohesion seems a reality. Still a work in progress, waiting for further co-construction from SLT, teachers, and learners, the excitement builds. The hard work that has been going on in caves, corners, beanbags and outside the four walls aligned today on this “perfect day” and we are definitely showing it is true…”You’re going to reap just what you sow”.

Going old school at a new school…


This quote by John Dewey applicable to education today, even though it arises from many moons ago, the relevance for today is still clear. In a world that is ever changing, where knowledge is fluid, adapting and shifting as fast as it can be learned, we must shift the way education is being played out locally, nationally and globally. Luckily for me I am a part of an awesome team of educators that are looking to do just this at Hobsonville Point Secondary School. We are looking to shift education in a future focussed way, hoping that we can make a difference in the life of our students by taking all the best research, evidence and practices we can find and integrating and applying these in a way that has never been tried before. We are wanting to ensure that learning at Hobsonville Point includes strong relationships, rigour and relevance to the learners and involves student and whanau voice.

For these shifts in education to occur, we need a cohesive team with a “bias towards action”. We definitely have this in abundance, with the inclusion of 9 new staff members last week, we are well on the way to seeing the vision applied not only in theory but in practice. It is amazing to be around this full team of educators who all have the same strong desires to make a difference and shift education to ensure that it is truly personalised for our learners. We are all ongoing learners and you can feel the buzz as members of the team or “tribe” (@GeoMouldey) all thrive and feed off each other. In an environment that has high relational trust, the conversations are stimulating, challenging but never predictable.


Action indeed, you can feel the tension as members of the team are chomping at the bit to get into it, the difficulties in de-schooling is that inner monologue telling you… “I need to do this now, what no students yet? Ok I will do this now, but I will wait for the rest of it”.
As I previously posted it is that letting go that is a tension. However, we are all on the same boat with the fact that to be truly responsive we need to wait. We need the voice of the students, their whanau, if we are to practice what we preach. With our dispositional curriculum we are looking at the dispositions that learners need in this world where knowledge is ever changing. As Guy Claxton would put it, so that students can “learn to flounder intelligently at anything that life throws at them”. This alone is a huge shift, we are attempting to ensure that excellence at HPSS is both “personal” and “academic”. It is these dispositions “personal excellence” that will allow learners to adapt and thrive in this world of ever changing knowledge and allow them to take action and make a difference in the world around them.


Here at HPSS, we would see the later to empower and transform and I feel confident that we are well on the way to seeing this occur. With less than a term to go we are busy ensuring that the structures and systems are set up and ready to roll. While having the structures and systems in place, we are also mindful of flexibility and adapting to ensure our vision in practice. This explains why the flexible and responsive timetable is also ever changing and I feel lucky to be in a school where the senior leadership is responsive to the voice of the staff and have not come in with their own structures to dictate. I get excited every time I see a new iteration of this and how different this is to anywhere I have ever worked before.


In an environment with so many outstanding educators it could be easy to become an echo chamber. Especially as the mindset is also similar across the board. However, this collaborative and challenging environment does allow for a strong sense of collegiality, while still allowing people to bring their different views, experiences and backgrounds to the table and as seen in the picture, any conflict that arises is due to different perspectives. This is important in allowing innovation to occur and I see this occurring at a faster rate than I have ever experienced in the past. I also see it as us developing the start of a whole school culture that allows for this to occur once the learners and their whanau are here. The school that does education “with” the learner not “to” them.


Finally in the words of Friere above, you can see the similarities with the concept of “ako”, some times the learner, sometimes the teacher, sometimes the leader, sometimes the follower. Currently there are no students at school. However, I find myself in an ongoing manner, being predominantly in the position of learner. Learning from the leadership team, fellow leaders of learning and the new team, as we all are open to being lead, there is leadership and followship in abundance. While all the time we build on this environment of trust and challenge.

Why did I go old school on it you may ask? For me I find the words of Friere, Chomsky and Dewey inspiring. To know that these words are still pertinent now is even more exciting. The cherry on the top however, is that I am working at a school that is not only listening to this type of educational philosophy, but also putting into action the conditions, structures and practices to transform education and start with the learner at the centre. We hope to share with fellow educators on the purpose and process in a way that empowers others to do the same….Only then can we move education to ensure that learners are placed at the centre to be themselves and not be dictated to by the system. To be creative, critical leaners who are themselves. Where the system works for them and with them… To stop education from doing this….


Manuka leaves and the challenge ahead…


Kua takoto te manuka
The leaves of the manuka tree have been laid down.

This Whakataukī relates to the challenge ahead. The challenge of starting a new school from scratch with a visionary curriculum in mind is getting closer. An inspiring term of vision development, hacking the curriculum and developing a dispositional curriculum that will be integrated in a cohesive manner from the get go. We are well down the track to seeing this in practice for 2014 when our foundation learners begin their journey with us here at HPSS.

The dispositional curriculum is almost there… this is our model for dispositions which involves both the Hobsonville Habbits and quadrants that will insure rigour of learning occurs concurrently with the Habbits in action.


We are using advisories as a vehicle to ensure that both the dispositional curriculum and the personalised pathway using the NZC are implemented and allow for the structure and support required for co-constructed learning to occur in a flexible manner. With the advisor seen as that “warm and demanding” guide on the side, who develops the knowledge and relationship with the learner that has on occasion been amiss in Secondary Education in the past. This is not to make the assumption that these relationships with teacher and learner have not been developed or present. More, that the environment and institutions have not ensured that “every child has that champion”. We want to ensure that occurs.

Here is a diagram that the Learning Team Leaders have developed to show the type of processes and structures that will be involved in our ‘Hubs’ to ensure that this is achievable. With advisory time everyday as well as flexitime, time for passion project development and big project time we are shifting education at HPSS in a way that primary have optimised learning for some time.

Learning Hubs2

Our Senior Leadership Team of Maurie, Lea, Di and Claire has been awesome at both leading and allowing for collaboration and voice from the Leaders of Learning. It really feels like an environment of distributed leadership, with a high level of relational trust in action. Not just a team proclaiming to do this, but a team who is putting this into practice. I feel lucky to be a part of this team. It is exciting times, as the new members of the team come on board on Monday and we gain from their expertise and develop our vision further. With only one term until the foundation learners become the further dimension of the HPSS community. I time I wait for with excitement and nervousness.

Can we give every child a champion?

Can we allow true co-construction to occur?

Can we give as much kudos to the dispositional curriculum?

Can we hack silos?

Can we stop a hierarchy of knowledge and valued knowledge from occurring?

Can we be flexible enough, but supportive enough for truly personalised learning to occur?

Can we ensure that authentic, real world learning is occurring both in and outside the classroom walls?

Can we stop framing knowledge so tightly that the power is with the teachers and give that power back to the learners?

The leaves of the Manuka tree have been placed as a challenge, at HPSS we all come as friends (in collaboration) and accept the challenge. I look forward to the final term of preparation and foresee more invigorating and stimulating discussion and dialogue and action as we pick up the Manuka leaves as a team and move forward.