Looking forward to a new year, a year to sustain and continue the development of a personalised and culturally responsive learning environment at Hobsonville Point Secondary School. Note: I do not mention furniture or technology, as is the focus when most talk to Modern Learning Environments. For me, my philosophy and my doing, I mean the pedagogical practice that I support, advocate for and hope to build the capability of, in myself and others, in an on-going and responsive way. I mean coming back to the why and then moving to principles and practice from here. Reflecting on the why I come back to the circles that we developed with Julia Aitken right back at the start of our journey. Here you find the circles related to hubs that was co-constructed by our LTL (Learning Team Leaders) team at the very start.
We are shifting to being LCL’s (Learning Community Leader’s) this year, with a focus on the community. Originally Yasmin and Megan and I worked alongside Lea our DP in charge of our team. This has shifted and Ros has come on board a year ago and Danielle also comes on board for 2016. While we work separately to support our own communities, we continue to work as a team to try to help support and lead the hubs (which I liken to small whānau groups). Therefore we continue to come back to they why? and we need to be very responsive to staff, with how they are leading this aspect of the HPSS curriculum. We also need to work with a climate of high relational trust with our colleagues to listen actively and be responsive as we would with our students. We are all learning as we go and I have acknowledged in the past that hubs and being a coach to a small group of students (15 max) is not always the easiest for some. So how do we go about building capability of all, when this is an aspect that we value highly?
Good practitioners everywhere are responsive to their students, knowing that students bring so much with them, they are not empty vessels for banking. The same must be said in an environment that creates “Pumanawatanga” -a beating heart. I am over simplifying the use of this word as Angus Macfarlane et al talk to the other four concepts of…
Manaakitanga (ethos of care)
Kotahitanga (unity and bonding)
They relate these four concepts into….
Pumanawatanga (a beating heart)
This concept involves pumping life into the other four concepts and sustaining their presence. Teachers are encouraged to adopt a position within their classrooms that is consistent with these concepts, and evidenced in their values, beliefs, attitudes and behaviour. The school, too, is encouraged to develop an infrastructure of care and support for students and teachers that are consistent with these concepts.
Many of these ideas are reitterated and developed within The Māori Education Strategy: Ka Hikitia – Accelerating Success 2013–2017
and also in Pasifika Education Plan 2013-2017 http://www.education.govt.nz/ministry-of-education/overall-strategies-and-policies/pasifika-education-plan-2013-2017/ it is all about relationships, with students, staff, whānau and community.
My point being that we cannot just create an environment that supports and nurtures the development of students, we have to model this also as teachers, with both students and our colleagues. I try to do this with my leadership and reflect on this in an on-going way. I listen to worries and concerns, I try to recognise strengths in my team as I would with my students. I try to support my team in different ways and inquire into my practice as a leader, just as I do as a teacher. I do not deficit theorise about staff as I would not about my students and I see the potential and have high expectations for all (Mana Motuhake) as I would my students. So how do I do this in practice? How do I ensure I am not creating a one size fits all programme for my coaches and allow them to consider the why? How do we bring new staff on board and how do we play to everyones strengths and weaknesses? How do I coach the coaches?
Well I have a mixture of both old and new coaches in my community, I need to allow all of us to support each other. Therefore for 2016, I am going to work with a buddy system in our community. This allows me to build capability in others, while not having to be the knower. For all of us to play a part in a coaching role within the community. I have paired people up on being both old hands and new, or pairing people with different strengths eg some more logistical thinkers, with more creative thinkers, introverts with extroverts, confident coaches with less confident coaches. Hopefully this allows everyone to play a part in the community journey and leadership and hubs to become a sustainable, responsive and agile part of our curriculum while supporting all to become more confident, connected learners alongside our students.
We have developed resources along the way, with a focus on my-being, my learning, my community, where we had a day on each last year. From both the LCL team and the staff voice we are shifting this. Resourcing and support can still lie within these areas, however, we are handing over the focus for each hub (in my community pair of hubs) to create this pathway for their hub time. Greater cohesion was a request from some coaches. For instance they talked of starting something on my-being and then waiting a whole week to return to this as not allowing for cohesion and feeling a bit bitsie. Others talked of still requiring support and not being left to flounder. Again, I was listening, how could I hear both these voices and do justice and be responsive to both? New staff find the hub aspect difficult to get their head around as it is so different to most Secondary Education. This does not mean that hubs should not be valued, this just means that it is different and difficult at times. This was where the idea of working in pairs arose. Also something my coaches talked to was with how busy hubs can be struggling to find time to conference and contact home. I am hoping with the pairing of coaches that they can work together to release each other allowing this important aspect of our role to be fulfilled. So my aim is to continue to develop resourcing and support the coaches in our school and in my community. However, to balance this with greater decision making and ownership over their hubs, yes support will be there, but coaches get back to the why are we doing this? and how can I do this with my students? What are their needs? Where is each one of them at? How can I be a better guide on the side?
If Robinson et al (2009) and Timperley (2008), Timperley et al (2007) have shown us that the biggest impact we can have on student outcomes is the on-going professional learning of teachers. We must ensure that this inquiry happens with hubs as well as modules at HPSS. Not to necessarily add another inquiry into the mix, but for staff to just work this way in all aspects of teaching and learning at HPSS. This will be supported this year by the Professional learning that Cindy Wynn helps to support in our school. As a reflective practitioner and leader she is shifting our inquiries to become more collaborative with small teams… the idea is that team inquire into their practice across the many aspects of our school, including hubs and big projects. This again will help make things more visible and inquiry based on evidence to inform practice.
So…. I hope to inquire across the school in my leadership and practice, always coming back to positive student outcomes, I have talked to how I want to look at this as not just being “academic” success, but also happiness and wellbeing of the students. If I am to truly be a part of a school enacting “Pumanawatanga” then I must also inquire into this with the staff I lead. Therefore, I wish to inquire into my leadership with my staff two-fold, into their success and impact on student outcomes as a learning coach and also into their happiness, if we are to model and practice what we preach and be responsive to both students and staff. In doing so, only then can we make the practices and leadership in our school sustainable.
MacFarlane, A, Glynn, T, Cavanagh T, Bateman, S. Creating Culturally-Safe Schools for Māori Students (2007)
Robinson, V, Hohepa, M, Lloyd, C (2009). School Leadership and Student Outcomes: Identifying What Works and Why Best Evidence Synthesis Iteration [BES]
Timperley, H, Wilson, A, Barrar, H and Fung, I (2007). Teacher Professional Learning and Development: Best Evidence Synthesis Iteration (BES)
Timperley, H. (2008). Teacher professional learning and development: Educational practices series