Citius, Altius, Fortius… “Faster, Higher, Stronger….or flat, distributed, collaborative? Recognising the history we are tied to…

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To create change in Society and more specifically in Education there should be recognition of the history we are tied to. To ensure change can be maintained, we need to be mindful of what has come before. In a school that has an abundance of “agents of change” with strong “growth mindsets”, it could be easy to rest on our laurels and suppose that change will occur with no limitations. However, as Friere would recognise we are not empty vessels for banking. We come with experiences and a history of Education based on an industrial model of Education. One where traditional leadership models have been about “Faster, Higher, Stronger” and who can get to the top. A teacher-centric model where the teacher has been the knower and the learner has been the student. As we shift (as we should) to a student centred model, there is still the tension to be the “decider” of what is the knowledge? What is the pedagogy and what are the skills we want our learners to gain? The temptation is to be organised, efficient, ready to roll when our learners arrive. However, it is far to important to wait for their voices, passion, interests and hooks. To place them at the centre and be responsive to them. To allow them all to flourish, without hierarchy, ranking and one size fits all.

The tension previously mentioned is not the only potential tension that can arise. Also one to be acknowledged, aligned to the traditional leadership model is one where there is a hierarchy of leadership. As opposed to the distributed leadership model, which we at HPSS are working within. One where everyone is a leader, leadership is spread horizontally and draws on the expertise of the staff. A model of high relational trust. I assert that there is expertise on this staff in abundance, I have never been in a school with so much passion and knowledge about Education. The potential is endless, I have previously mentioned that I find myself in the role of ongoing learner, drawing on the depth and breadth of talent, knowledge, experience and concern of the colleagues, I am both excited and proud to be working with. It could be easy to revert to old structures and models, however, I feel confident with the critical friends and Professional Learning Community we are developing here that we will hold strong to the vision and values that are driving us.

Distributed

If we were to consider the industrial model of Education as an institution in Society. We could then say that this institution was an element of “hegemony” (Gramsci). To create change (counter-hegemony) Gramsci would highlight the importance of action at Macro and micro levels. My take on this is that the NZC allows for the macro level to be covered, the potential of this document is limitless if used in the flexible way it was intended. The intent to personalise learning and pathways. Therefore, it is us at a school level that must ensure the micro-level change. This must include SLT, SLL’s, LTL’s, PLT, and the Project Team, as well as the learners and their Whanau. We need to engage our community and build powerful partnerships. We also must make sure that when everything is up and go that we keep an eye on the history we are tied to, that we do not revert to “what we are used to”. Keeping the learner and their Education at the centre, developing their pathways to suit and empower them.

While I am talking tensions to keep an eye on, it is pertinent to consider a staff who are passionate teachers who all come from their own silos in traditional schools. Maurie and the SLT have hired people on mindset that want to shift Education, create change and think outside the square. They have definitely done this. The SLL team have done an amazing job of hacking the curriculum and there is no hierarchy of subject evident anymore. All have been hired as they see the power and potential of showing learners the connectedness of our subject areas, with a focus on concepts and skills this is potentially a intended and actual outcome. So what may be the tension, not a tension as such, more another aspect to keep an eye on. The passion for their subject areas should be interesting, as we move into negotiation of who is in what module, what is the focus, how much time is allocated. I foresee that with the collegial, team, tribe and whanau we have developed, that there will be give and take and ongoing negotiation along the way.

So while there could be potential tensions as we shift from the old to the new, I feel confident in the amazing teams that we have developing here at HPSS, I love all the conversations, curriculum development, team bonding, vision and innovation that we are a part of and look forward to orientation day this term when we meet all our learners at the primary site. While we have met many of the learners as we visit our feeder schools, we are excited to introduce them to our Hubs, Specialised learning modules, Big Projects and Passion Projects. For their whanau to meet our whanau and take the next step in this amazing journey.

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