Update on our Waka journey at RSHS/RHS…

Ko te waka mātauranga he waka eke noa…

We are all on a new journey here at RSHS and that journey is also interlinked with our colleagues at RJHS. In some ways if we were to use the metaphor of the waka, these visuals help. It is like working in a two hulled waka, where all need to focus not only on themselves and their learning, but also all those others in the waka as well. I should note this is speaking from experience of being the highly functional waka team on Waikato te awa for our team building day with local Tainui….or maybe we had some learning to do on our rhythm!!

This is pertinent to my reflections as I believe this also aligns to our development as a school, you do need to think about what your role is in the team but also about everyone else that is paddling away at the same time (or not).

Well I do feel lucky to be a part of a journey from the ground up for a second time after working previously as a foundation staff member at Hobsonville Point Secondary School. It is from this previous journey that I do recognise that building the plane as you fly it, is not always easy. I think we need to open and honest about that as educators, so that others can see that second order change is not always smooth sailing.

Here is the SLT that I am a part of…

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Working alongside our Tuamaki/Principal Natasha Hemara who came previously form being deputy principal at Southern Cross Campus. Natasha is a highly student centred educator with a moral purpose to make a difference, she is good strategic thinker, who is steering our waka, while allowing others to lead along the way…and my fellow Tuamaki Tuarua/DP Megan Barry, who comes from Waitakere College, where she was the Assistant Principal. Meg is a good systems thinker and brings experience of working with PLD, Helath and Safety, policies and more…We are extremely luck to be a part of this journey and have some awesome colleagues that we are working alongside across our school. I will explain some of the teams and functions within our school in this blog, to give you insight into our place. Below you can see the Senior Exec that sits across RHS.

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Fraser, Paula, Mel and Gareth have a huge job on their hands and have done so since their school hit the ground running last year. I am in awe their whole school has developed in such a short time frame, with an intensive around 1000 students across four years in their second year of being up and running. Often new schools have time to bring a cohort through from the start and develop along the way. In contrast they have had all year levels from the get go. We are lucky enough to bring through our first cohort into Year 11 this year and develop as we go…If I am to be honest that does bring a slight guilt that we do have time. However, it is what it is and what has been put in place, so not to dwell on this, we should be grateful and do the best for our students to create an environment of Mana Motuhake (high expectations) while still building those relationships and whānaungatanga… Even though we have small numbers, that does not mean that we do not have to have systems and processes up and running. In addition, even though we have a small cohort of 100, we are doing things a bit differently and we still need to ensure we have cohesion between the schools, while still building our path with input from our team.

So that you can get a feel for our place of RHS across the board, I always feel visuals set the scene for the culture being created…

Above is some photos from sports day, the quality photos are care of the amazing RJHS photographer Anna Pratt!!

Those above are our students across RHS, linking in with our Mana whenua, Tainui and Ngati Wairere at the Hukunui Marae for the Kingitanga celebration of the Pokai. Our students were awesome, helping set tables and work in the kitchen and Ngati Wairere are excited about on-going links with our school. In addition I feel lucky to be working with a project group taking action to help ensure that the culture and environment is sustainable for the local Marae. See a few photos below…

The projects at school are being led by Chris Langley a passionate Social Scientist who came to us from Fairfield College. Chris has been doing an amazing job of leading projects and is helping to build the capability of all our staff to sit along side students in their project learning journey. I am grateful I get to continue working with projects, as I truly believe that project based learning is authentic, real world learning that is engaging and meaningful. Taking action is one of the focuses for us as a school and I believe that this also helps social and emotional learning and growth of empathy.

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In addition to projects we have our team of Kaihautū and Kaiurangi helping to support and lead the whānau programme at our school. Similar to the advisory model at RJHS and also at Hobsonville Point Secondary School. Philisophically drawing on the ideas of the big picture schools. The importance of this model within our school cannot be underestimated, with a focus on the whole student/ākonga. We have Anna Marie Keighley and Andrew Marshall  leading and steering the Waka around this aspect, supported closely by Hannah Lerke and Chris Scarlett. All of the staff are developing strong warm and demanding (care of Maurie) relationships with their ākonga and the valuing of these relationships has been acknowledged by our staff, students, whānau and is helping develop the culture on the ground.

So that you can put a name to the face here is some of our awesome crew…

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Other responsibilities across our team include the SCL’s who are the Specialised Curriculum Leaders, these are Vicki Ladd-English, Anna-Marie Keighley HPE, Shannon Brown-Performing Arts, Jenny Mangan-Technology, Jatin Bali-Science, Lianne Moore-Visual Art, Chris Langley-Social Science andAndrew Marshall-Mathematics. All of the innovative leaders are pushing boundaries to engage students in connected real world learning, while ensuring Academic and personal excellence for our ākonga.

We also have Jatin and Jordan working with Natasha and Meg on PLD and this is being developed as we fly the plane. There is a slight tension here and one we need to work through as a group of educators and a waka team. We want the PLD to be responsive and personalised for our staff, which Arinui does allow for in terms of reflection and action. However, we also have systems and processes being developed that need to be shared by all if we are to enact our vision. My hope is that we can reflect and act in an on-going way and be responsive to our staff, students and community. In addition to this Jatin is leading the school relief system alongside Louise at RJHS.

Vicki is leading literacy in the school, so that it is not seen to sit inside the silo of English and is seen as the responsibility of all educators. Vicki also brings a wealth of knowledge form her time at Ngaruawahia High School, on pathways and doing things differently and has been a past PN so has a good understanding of tracking our learners. Bijendra wears a similar hat for numeracy, with strengths in physics and mathematics to bring to the fore.

Jason Sharma is leading e-learning and he brings his “blue” thinking (Hermann’s Brain) to the table supporting Megan with timetabling. We have quite a few other techy people in the school, thinking about the pedagogy of why as well as how to use tech. These include, Jordan (A mind lab graduate), Chris, Anna-Marie and many more…

We also have Matua Anaru, leading the way in developing tikanga and understanding within our staff. He and Robbie, Nadine, Amy, Mel and I are working with Manaaki Tauira and Anaru is also working alongside Robbie to work with the ever growing Kapa Haka group.

Matua Robbie started the way with the huge focus on Haka Pōwhiri last year, see the video here…

In addition we have Amie Kiely, Susan Hill (inclusive learning) , Chris Scarlett (sport), Paula Moneypenney (guidance) and David Green (pathways) working as a wrap around service with our ākonga across RHS.

We are lucky to be in a new environment but again it all comes back to the pedagogy..

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I am lucky to be in this position, I want to acknowledge the awesome work of my RJHS colleagues in paving the way down here. If the waka starts to go crooked, or we get out of time (which I actually do acknowledge happened to my crew on Waikato te awa that day). Also metaphorically speaking, we are needing to do this for our staff and across both schools and hope we are doing this through the water cooler that we are hoping opens dialogue around concerns or worries. Then we all need to support each other, to find balance and find our rhythm again. To do this we need to all listen to each other, be responsive to each other and know that we are all in this together….