He aha te mea nui o te ao, He tangata, he tangata, he tangata

He aha te mea nui o te ao, He tangata, he tangata, he tangata from Sally Hart on Vimeo.

I made this video at the end of the term. The visuals are a summary of my time at HPSS. I have recorded many posts along the way reflecting and acting in an on-going way.

The whakataukī…
“He aha te mea nui o te ao, He tangata, he tangata, he tangata” is the main thing I will take with me.

What is the most important thing in the world?
It is the people, it is the people, it is the people.

I am already missing the students and colleagues who became a big part of my life, in all honesty, I could not really talk about how much they all mean to me, so I used photos and a video as a way of showing this. I did talk to this at my farewell assembly… I am just starting a new journey as Deputy Principal at Rototuna Senior High School. I hope to continue recording and reflecting on my new journey here….

My girls are starting their new journeys as well as their new schools…

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Also check out the journey on this blog http://rshsjourney.blogspot.co.nz/ by Natasha Hemara the Principal of Rototuna Senior High School.


Walking the talk…. Relationships….Whanaungatanga…


Tangata ako ana i te whare, te turanga ki te marae, tau ana
A person who is taught at home, will stand collected on the Marae (meeting house grounds)

Meaning a child who is given proper values at home and cherished within his family, will not only behave well amongst the family but also within society and throughout his life.

So what has this got to do with school you may ask? Maybe a better question could be where does the whare end and what part does a kura/school have to play here?
I would say if we are practicing and enabling true whanaungatanga, then the kura/school has a a very important part to play here. Returning to school for another year, twittersphere has been alive with people talking of the importance of relationships and knowing the learner. With ideas on how to do this, often I see neat things that primary educators are up to where they in action this and prioritise this and give time for this. There are many secondary educators attempting to do this in their own classrooms. Educators that make a concerted effort to do this and ensure they also build those important relationships. However, there is often institutions at play that can be a barrier to this. For instance how many students came back to secondary school, meet their new form teacher, got their timetable and got to it. Arriving in their classrooms to be handed their year plan, when topics would be, when assessments would be…

I have been a part of this…many years of this…surely there can be a better way…

What if a whole school can break institutions like timetables, give time to relationship building like our primary colleagues, what if they can truly get to know their learners and really start to personalise education. This week more than any other week at HPSS, have I truly seen the shift we are creating around this. We never pretend to have the answer, or the right way of doing things, but we are trying very hard. This moves, evolves and refines along the way and I don’t think we will ever think we have it “done”. I hope that we never think we have it done! We reflect and act each year. It is sometimes difficult to explain this from where we have come to where we are now. But one thing I know is that this week was pretty special and it is only from not getting things “right” that we have got to this place.

So all talk?? Here is a bit of a record for my own thinking on shifts…

Over the past couple of years we have had Individual Education Meetings where students lead the meeting and dialogue happens around learning with students, whānau and coaches. In the first year we had an evening where we met the families, the second year we met those who came to the Waitangi Celebrations, see here… https://sallyhart72.wordpress.com/2015/02/05/something-truly-special-is-brewing-here/

What we have realised is we need connections to start earlier than when we talked about the students learning part way through the year. We need to gain an understanding of who they are, through both their eyes and the eyes of their whānau. The SLT had already set about doing this as they enrol the whole whānau. However, we were missing that step with the coaches. Here are some of the questions that were discussed in the first IEM this year.

At initial IEM/Catch up with Student/Parent, Coaches complete Initial Interview. This initial interview can be used as a reference point for the duration of their time at HPSS. Questions include:
What are your interests and passions?
What sports do you play or would you like to play?
What are your main strengths?
What do you find difficult?
What are you most worried about?
What are you most looking forward to?
Favourite food and drink?
What is your favourite learning area(s)?
What was your favourite thing about your previous school?
Anything else…
Parent – Looking forward to…
Parent – Worried about…
Student aspirations…
Parent expectations…

All of this was collected in KAMAR. Not the usual data that is collected in KAMAR??? Why??? Just as important as what level they are sitting at on the curriculum! If not, more!!!

Seeing the coaches in my community and the powerful partnerships they were developing at such an early time in the year, made me a little bit like Maurie for a second! #tearsinmyeyes Maurie and the SLT have recognised the importance of this and collapsed the timetable to allow for these meetings to occur across the first week. Many can have a vision, however to walk the talk, you need to enable some shifts and be courageous in leadership. I believe this was one of those. This was continued into the second week, where once again the timetable was collapsed, for relationship building as well as introduction to the “Hobby way” if there can be such a thing 🙂 Learning about Big Projects, the Learning Design Model and more…

Most importantly was that relationship building with the coaches and the community..Here is an a summary on the focus of our hubs…

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Here is a collection of resources that hub coaches were using to develop these relationships. This is a collaborative website, which will develop over time… The week prior to this as a group of coaches in a community, we took part in many of the getting to know each other activities, so that coaches had a kete to take into the first week… this was important as some of the coaches are new to HPSS and this is quite a different aspect to our curriculum.


Maurie also introduced the idea of “ako” to all and showed his staff the true meaning of reciprocity by showing this…

Kai/ako/nga- with “ako” in the middle and Kai”ako”-teacher and “ako”nga-student… which was cool as I had not really seen this before.

The importance of community is another important aspect of whanaungatanga at HPSS. All three communities headed off on an exploration of who they are on Thursday and Waiarohia- who is the community I lead took to the waters of the Waitemata Harbour. Screen shot 2016-02-14 at 10.30.27 AM

Here is some visuals of our exploration of Waiarohia and learning about our local iwi, Te Kawerau a Maki and Ngati Whatua o Kaiapara.

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In the afternoon we explored Te Tiriti o Waitangi (The Treaty of Waitangi). Looking at the importance of partnerships and aligning this to our school vision of powerful partnerships across everything that we do. Students lead these activities…

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Then onto connections with “whenua” in a bivouac team building activity, putting partnerships into action with hubs and coaches…

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I was also proud of the community when we received this email after our day of exploration…
Hi Sally,

Please see below some feedback from the master and the crew of Discovery 2 from your Harbour Cruise yesterday.
Not often we get comments like this from our Masters and Crew so please let your students know how much they were appreciated.
Just a little bit of feedback about the Hobsonville Point Secondary School charter today.

My crew and I were thoroughly impressed with the way the students conducted themselves onboard this morning. All very pleasant and polite.
It appeared they all enjoyed their time with us today. As much perhaps as I did learning more about the Hobsonville area whilst listening in on the commentary.

Please extend my thanks. Not all school groups are as good to deal with!


I feel proud to be a part of everything happening at HPSS, when you see the “relationships and whanaungatanga” in action it is truly special. This was highlighted at the Whanau picnic, held with and at the Hobsonville Point Primary School, where the conversations with whānau showed how important this time was, that these relationship building aspects are a huge part of our vision in action. Even though it can be quite a full on time for all involved, I believe this is hugely important in walking the talk and bringing students (old and new), staff (old and new) and whānau (old and new) along on our journey. Then also as the whakatauki spoke to at the top, we can start to merge the connections between “whare/home” and “kura/school” and the school community “whānau”.

Tangata ako ana i te whare, te turanga ki te marae, tau ana
A person who is taught at home, will stand collected on the Marae (meeting house grounds)

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Sustainable Leadership…Pumanawatanga….a beating heart….my take on this….

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(Angus McFarlane et al 2007)

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 also unpacked about learning hubs more here…

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…
Whanaungatanga (relationships)
Rangatiratanga (self-determination)
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.

Then this can come to light….
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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

More reflection….less action…. Happiness and the Hobsonville Habits


As we come towards the end of another year, it is a time to slow and reflect…
Educators around the country will acknowledge the fact that sometimes you are so heads down, bum up that you need to ensure you come up for air, breathe and learn from all that is going on around you. A time for reflection before action again in the new year. I find it good to try this while things are still fresh. Hence this post…

This year I have been working on a teaching inquiry that has looked at making learning visible in HPE. Working on a project collaboratively with Alex Smith and her crew from Rutherford, alongside Anne McKay and Kylie Thompson from Unitec and Margot Bowes from the university of Auckland. There has been some tutuing with this and we have manged to pull out data to analyse and use as baseline data for exploring positive student outcomes for our priority learners. Here is a presentation that shows some of the tools and strategies we have used, student voice and data we have pulled. However, this is a separate blogpost to come….

So why am I writing this post then???
I have recognised that I am missing a major aspect in my teaching inquiry. While positive student outcomes are what I always come back to in reflecting on what we are doing and why? I am missing a part of what we are doing at HPSS that I am passionate about. Yes we want academic excellence, but where is the personal excellence that underpins what we are doing here. If you have read my posts before you will know that we have the “Hobsonville Habits” that we teach explicitly to and try to make visible to our akonga.

Hobsonville habits

I talked to this earlier in my leadership inquiry…In a world where knowledge is ever changing and easily accessible, shifts are occurring in the way teaching and learning occurs. Many talk of developing dispositions, working learning muscles, learning to learn, key competencies, capabilities, metacognition, making learning visible and more…

What I am recognising now is that while I have explored supporting learning coaches around their coaching of the dispositional curriculum and how they are supporting our learners around this. That I have not actually inquired into how this is impacting on positive student outcomes.

When a Year 9 boy is reflecting on their learning like this, you know that there is something special developing…

To development in his reflections for the second semester…

Semester 2 Overlook

My Being:
I have learnt over not just this semester but the first one is that school isn’t just about scores and test but also how you have to work others and it’s about getting along with your peers and teachers because in a real life situation such as work you aren’t going to be judge on how smart you are at maths and you aren’t going to be given multi choice tests about maths but you will need skills such as communication and other social and interpersonal skills.

My personal achievements have been to be able to work more independently without help from teachers and I have achieved this, it’s just I need some guidance such as this blog post here. I’m doing it independently but there are guidelines to help me so I stay on the right topic. Another achievement is that my grades improve which in some aspects of learning like science and technology they have but in reading and maths I got the same scores as my mid-term e-asttle test and I even when down in some aspects of reading like language features but I did go up in other aspects such as my understanding of the text.

I have been inspired by a lot of things, some of the main things being art and design. Because of my dream to be a graphic designer, seeing all these different pieces of art and design work just wants inspires me to follow that dream. For example when I saw what the students did last year for big projects and how they created those banners, I thought it was really cool how we can do art and design but it is also helping out the community and when I got a chance to do it my self I took it up immediately.

When people like Johnny (a school/public speaker) came in it gave me a real good understanding of how other people and teenagers think and the situations they go through and now I have a better understanding of why some people do things and also I have better understanding of things that seem cool but can really harmful because they can say it in a way that everybody can relate to. So now that I can understand why people act the way they do I can find a way to help or at least try to help if its a bad situation.

This semester I have been thinking about my future such as what I want to have as a job and I am working towards that by taking class learning how to use tools for graphic design and I have been In contact with my uncle (works for a web design company) and he has said that he could give me a small job and maybe an internship and the business which I am really excited about to see what the work space is like and how to work in the environment.

My Communities:

My place in the world and how I make a difference, now and in the future. The connections I bring and the connections I make.

One highlight of working in my community is how I have created new friends through working with people I don’t normally work with, it’s not just in the school but outside like the primary I have created new friends and I get along with a few of the primary kids. I also made some friends when the year 8’s came for there orientation day. In my classes I have had to work with people I don’t really get along with but I have been forced to get along with them and now we are sort of friends. Being able to get out of the class and help out people from all around the community really brings out what this school means and how we are extremely community based.

Manaakitanga: I have shown Manaakitanga by respecting other equipment by using my own stuff and not relying on others to from equipment, for example at the start of the semester I would always forget my maths book and would have to use pages out of my friends book but now I have been more purposeful and have just kept my book in my bag so I don’t need to use anyone else’s.

Whenua: I have shown Whenua in my big project because it has been all about sustainability and they way I am showing it is by creating movies and documentaries about the topic “sustainability”. For one activity we did, we went to the city and filmed things like cars, buildings and rubbish to show that even though New Zealand is considered “Green”, Its really not and we are creating lots of pollution and rubbish.

Whanaungatanga: I have shown Whanaungatanga when I have had to help out at the primary and teach LC4 how to play a certain sport, my crew and to teach a group how to play tee ball, different skills used in tee ball and how to practice those skills and incorporate these skills into a game of tee ball. I have also shown it in big projects as I had to work with Flynn and Jack, two people I had never worked with before, and we ended up working really well together and we came up with some good ideas for documentaries and then put those ideas into action.

My Learning:

This semester I have learnt a lot from things like why chemical reactions happen and why they split the way they do, things about geometry and angles and other areas in maths, in maths I have also done some Pythagoras theorems and other level 5 stuff. In technology I have expanded my knowledge on prototyping and creating a brief for a product. I have also learnt skills on Adobe Illustrator as a lot of web and graphic designers use this tool and if I am going to peruse my goal of becoming a graphic designer than it is a good skill to learn. Those are just some of the things I have learnt but a highlight of this semester has been that in my e-asttle reading test in some aspects I have progressed and achieved level 6 beginner which is at year 10/11 knowledge. Another thing I have done really well in was science and how I have been doing a little bit of year 11 science work independently, one example of this was when I stayed back after class and asked about why the chemical worked the way they did and Cindy, my science teacher, explained what was going on with the quickeze and why when added to the hydroelectric acid it lower the Ph level. She also explained why the chemicals bonded they way they did. I have enjoyed the class Lunchbox because I have learnt lots of skills that I wanted to know like how to design a product and brief as well as more complicated maths techniques and I have expanded my maths knowledge. They way I learn best is either by myself with no distractions and that way I am complete focused on completing the task or the other way is in a group doing each thing to make a whole but working together to make it get done quicker, for me there is no in between otherwise I would get distracted. I feel more confident about speaking in front others because of my class ABBS, in ABBS we have to go to the primary school and teach sports there and most of the time I have been the leader. This has boosted my confidence at talking in front of others.


Three habits that I showed this year are Resourcefulness, Contribution and Reflective.

My first habit Resourceful, means to use the materials/situation that are provided to come up with a solution to a problem. Some examples of me using this habit are when I have been able to sort out conflicts between friends such as when there was a bit of misunderstanding and one of my friends and I got into a fight but we talked it out and found out that we were thinking abut two complete different things. Another way I have shown this habit stepping outside my comfort zone and worked with people I don’t normally work with and I have shown this by in big projects working with Flynn and Jack who I wouldn’t normally get along with but we worked well together and it was a lot of fun working with and I got to know them better. This habit has helped me to make to best discussions in a unexpected situation and has also helped me make new friendships and I has made me more confident to try new things. My next steps in using this habit are to use the skills I have acquired to help me in everyday life and take it with me into everything I do.

My second habit is Contribution. This means to help in anyway possible and give things a go. Some examples of me using this habit are when I helped out at the primary school for my class A Brief Skill Session. For this class we have to help one of the primary school classes learn some sports such as tee-ball, football, touch, etc. This helped because it got me out and being contributive with the primary school, and in big projects working together as a group with people I haven’t worked with before to create documentaries about sustainability and this was good because I learnt who to be contributive in an environment in not used to. This habit has helped me to understand the needs of others and how to give things ago even when I’m not used to the environment or the activity that is happening. My next steps in using this habit are to contribute more in day to day life and getting out and helping out when the opportunity arises.

My third habit is Reflective. This means to look back at what you have done in the past and use that to make better choices in the future. Some examples of me using this habit are when I do most school work like in my spin “PROD” and in this spin we learn to create a product with the laser cutter using Adobe Illustrator. The way I used my prior knowledge on this was that I already knew a lot of skills in Photoshop and because the two are both made by Adobe the tools worked very similarly I pick up on how to use it really fast. Another way I was reflective was when we went to the city to film for my big project I already knew my way around the city and suggested where some good spots to film would be and in my smaller group of Jack, Flynn and I, I kinda took charge and worked as the navigator. This habit has helped me to draw from my prior knowledge to help me when needed for example don’t jump over fences because there could be a sharp pole in the ground. My next steps in using this habit are to before I do anything, it be a test, sports or just having fun always think about what happened last time and what the consequences are going to be.

BUT…. what do we value when we talk about positive student outcomes… it is more than academic…it is the personal excellence we talk of. However, do we revert to the curriculum and SOLO levels to see whether the outcomes are having a positive influence? Why would we do that? Well it is easily measurable quantitative data. So how can we measure success in other ways. This has been the difficulty of tracking habits. Not measuring them as you don’t become “extended-abstract” in being “resilient”- a habit. Speaking from personal experience, there will be times in your life, in your year, in your weeks and in your days, when you will be more resilient than others. Times when you will need strategies to do this, develop strategies to do this and learn along the way. What is important is that you recognise when you are doing this, recognise what you did and what you need to do in the future. Again this is something we are working on.

We have explored teaching explicitly in hubs to the habits, however, this is sometimes out of context, so I know that I need to embed the habits in everything we do, in reflections in class, in “speaking learnish” in all aspects of what we do. Catching the habits in action, or the need for the habits to be enacted.

So alongside reflecting against the habits, making explicit the habits, collecting evidence of the habits in action, setting goals where habits need to underpin the success of these goals, what else can we measure? Why do we need to??

I am going to go to a personal level here…I am lucky enough to have shifted my older girl to the Hobsonville Point Primary School. Who are part of us and we are part of them. We have a reciprocal relationship and powerful partnership we are developing all of the time. We are two schools with one vision. Sitting in in my girls IEM last week, I am blown away by the how lucky I am to have a girl who can lead her own IEM, talk to her learning, set her own goals, talk about her own dispositions and drive her own learning… She is being empowered in a way that I can not believe… However, do you know what I really care about? Is it the curriculum level? Is it that she has met National Standards? Is it that she can do her basic facts????? No I care that she is HAPPY!!! I know that most parents would agree, but I am serious, this is all I really care about. Her hauora, wellbeing and happiness… So…. yes I am going to continue to inquire into making learning visible…but what is my shift. I am going to add a second inquiry into the mix next year. It is going to involve qualitative data not quantitative data and it is going to be along the lines of…

How might the Hobsonville Habits support happiness and in turn positive student outcomes?


Everything is nothing with a twist…I am not a non existent teacher who just lets students go!

everything is nothing

Everything is nothing with a twist…

Even after a wonderful performance by the All Blacks this morning, I cannot get out of my mind this article in stuff.co.nz re: modern learning. Riddled with assumptions and possibly fuelled by an agenda to fight MOE changes to classrooms of the future, I feel to stay quiet on the article would be to agree in a passive manner. Here is the article… http://www.stuff.co.nz/national/education/73042309/Top-schools-give-multi-million-dollar-classrooms-a-fail-grade

I never judge a colleague, a practitioner, a teacher, a learner, by what school they are in. I never make judgements about what might be happening in a persons classroom, how they are helping their learners to grow. I never make judgements about how school communities are trying to ensure positive student outcomes, academically, socially or emotionally. I always assume that no matter where a person in education works, both in and outside/alongside the school community, that they have the best interest of the students at heart.

So… how is it when it comes to modern learning environments that many choose to make assumptions and generalisations about what is occurring. As I said in the title of the blog, I am not a non existent teacher who just lets students go! I feel that I need to stand in support of my colleagues working in a modern learning environment and challenge what has been said.

This is my 20th year in education, I have taught in a variety of decile schools and have seen quality practice in every school I have ever worked in. Passionate colleagues who have the best interest of the students at heart. Teachers who have put the students at the centre and personalised learning for them, working with them and not doing education to them. Personalised learning is not therefore just letting go and letting students go. There is a power shift required. However, this is nothing new, this has come in educational theory for years…see this old post on going old school in a new school. https://sallyhart72.wordpress.com/2013/10/20/going-old-school-at-a-new-school/

Colleagues at HPSS are shifting education for sure, however, they are excellent practitioners, who are differentiating and connecting learning more than I have ever seen before. As I say, not to take away from any other school or setting as I believe there is good practice everywhere. Yes we allow students to explore, make sense, focus and more… (aspects of our learning design model, that allows for cohesion in the language of learning across the school) see post by Steve on this in more depth… https://stevemouldey.wordpress.com/2015/02/22/empowering-language/

Teachers are getting also to deep learning at school rather than just surface. Teachers are working to make learning visible and meaningful to their learners. https://sallyhart72.wordpress.com/2015/05/30/what-are-we-really-learning-making-learning-visible/

Oh of course a teacher in a MLE is going to say these sorts of things…they must not believe in assessment, they will never get in the league tables, do we care about that? No. Do we care about positive student outcomes? For sure! What are those? Now this is something up for debate? Who decides what positive student outcomes are “we do!” our school, our community, our learners, our whānau.

I believe that I have a good handle of curriculum, assessment and pedagogy, here is a link to my MEd (1st class honours) http://researchcommons.waikato.ac.nz/handle/10289/8984 show off putting that here! No proving that there is depth and an understanding of education to be challenging the view points put forward in the article. Also working as National Assessment Moderator for NZQA for 5 years, I also have a reasonably good handle of what is required to achieve success as is currently measured. We are looking to shift things and transform things in our context. However, we are well aware of constraints and work to see these in different ways, how can we collect naturally occurring evidence? How can we align curriculum, assessment and pedagogy and ensure that assessment is not the main driver?

It is not a dichotomy… modern learning vs traditional learning. Maybe it can be seen more as a dialectical relationship for your Marxists out there. Where hegemony and counter-hegemony work against each other to create a new hegemony. Where things do need a radical shift, but not to throw out the old, but to truly re-vision what success in education is and can be? It does not have to be a dichotomy…


I want to paint a picture…I am currently teaching collaboratively in a module with Tanya, who has many years under her belt as a Mathematician, she is an amazing practitioner differentiating more than she has ever done before. Working hard to put her students at the centre and achieving not only depth in learning, but also extending her learners more than she has ever before. Yes it is in a MLE, however, she is pushing herself as a practitioner more than she has ever done before, scaffolding and supporting along the way, not just letting go…however, that will come more as the students move further along the school pathway. She is also connecting with HPE, who would have thought that! Here is a write up on that module and the awesome social action taking place within it by @Sarvnazz http://attitudelive.com/blog/sarvnaz-taherian/opinion-exploring-disabilities-gain-empathy

Then we have https://twitter.com/CbwynnWynn our awesome SCT (specialist classroom teacher) who supports SCT across the region, has been an advisor and also a National Assessment Moderator for Biology. An amazing practitioner in any setting. She always has the student at the centre, more than any other practitioner I know, she always has, no matter where she has taught, she personalises learning constantly. However, she too scaffolds, supports, differentiates all the way. She is responsive to the learners and listens to their voice. This is good practice whatever school you are in.

I could go through all my colleagues at school and give you a brief on them and their teaching and learning programmes in their classes in the same manner. They are awesome practitioners, constantly inquiring into their own practice striving for positive student outcomes. I could have also done this when I taught at Onehunga High School, Takapuna Grammar School, St Cuthbert’s College and in London. Why, because I always see the best in my colleagues, I don’t run down other schools for what they are doing, I don’t see education as competition, I see it as collaboration to get the best for akonga/students across the nation. For allowing schools to work in their context in their way, with their communities, akonga/students, whānau to work out the best way to achieve “positive student outcomes” in line with their vision. If we are all working towards the same goal only then… Everything is nothing with a twist…

engage through powerful partnerships ….contribute confidently and responsibly in our changing world…

Engage through powerful partnerships ….Contribute confidently and responsibly in our changing world…
Parts of our vision and not just rhetoric…

I truly believe that we are making a difference more than ever before. Many people are talking about MLE (modern, learning environments) rather than about the pedagogy. Here at HPSS, the thing that is apparent when you come into our school as an outsider is that it is all about the pedagogy, not just the environment.

I would like to focus in on the above two aspects of our school vision. In the past I have gathered anecdotal evidence on what “taking action” looks like in the context of PE in schools. My take on things is it is often just to meet the requirements of a standard. Often not really underpinned by the underlying concepts in the NZC. These underlying concepts are..

Hauora – a Māori philosophy of well-being that includes the dimensions taha wairua, taha hinengaro, taha tinana, and taha whānau, each one influencing and supporting the others.

Attitudes and values – a positive, responsible attitude on the part of students to their own well-being; respect, care, and concern for other people and the environment; and a sense of social justice.

The socio-ecological perspective – a way of viewing and understanding the interrelationships that exist between the individual, others, and society.

Health promotion – a process that helps to develop and maintain supportive physical and emotional environments and that involves students in personal and collective action.

Also often with a token relationship with Strand D of the HPE curriculum.

“Healthy communities and environments, in which students contribute to healthy communities and environments by taking responsible and critical action”.

As the National Moderator for 5 years for PE I saw a lot of work on taking action where it was often a one off event where it was difficult to reflect and act in an ongoing manner as would be expected by taking action models such as the action competence process (Tasker 2009)…


Action competence learning process

The action competence learning process is a process for engaging in health promotion. It provides a framework that enables students to take individual or collective action. The term “action competence” means the development of those competencies (understandings and skills) that enable students to take critical action. The issue selected for action should be one that students have chosen so that it has meaning and relevance for them. Issues will emerge out of the themes or contexts that are currently being studied. (TKI-HPE online)

At HPSS our students are only year 9 and 10, so we are not being driven by assessment to take action, rather by a belief and vision that involves…engaging through powerful partnerships ….contributing confidently and responsibly in our changing world…
Well I really want to reflect on the amazing impact that the akonga/students in our module MATHH is making for the akonga/students from Arohanui (the special needs school on site here at HPSS).

In this module we are working towards the following…
Modification and Equality for Arohanui Through the Hobsonville Habits (MATHH)

We will work closely with Arohanui in this module. We will explore how disabilities can effect peoples participation in physical activity. You will make sense of this by experiencing how it feels to have a variety of disabilities. You will innovate games, activities, equipment, space and rules by using and developing your knowledge of geometry and measurement. You will explore the specific needs of the students in Arohanui to allow you to transform participation for them. In all aspects of this module you will do this through the Hobsonville Habits.

Our learning objectives are..

To TEST by applying concepts from measurement and geometry to model physical education equipment and activities to transform participation by Arohanui students.

To REFINE physical activity and sport for Arohanui students by transforming games, activities, equipment, space and rules.

Along the way students have taken individual and collective action within this module and are taking action every week for two terms in an on-going way including reflection and action…

Students got to know their learners…
Gina's google drawing

8 tips (1)

Libby Arohanui questions

They plan in an ongoing manner, where there is individual responsibility for stations but collective action…

Week 3 Stations For Arohanui Students

Hurdles - Stations For Arohanui Students

Copy of Stations For Arohanui Students

(Katherine and Rebecca) Stations For Arohanui Students

There is also on-going reflection and action about individuals that learners have worked with…
Copy of Copy of Arohanui Reflection

Petra - Arohanui Reflection

As well as personal reflections on the disabilities that they are experiencing through their own practical PE and how modifications are required from here, gaining understanding and empathy for others…
Inclusion for all

Pictures speak louder than words so here are the crew taking action…














In conclusion, taking action does not need to be token, assessment driven or one off experiences… it can be meaningful, authentic and truly make a difference and the highlight of my year to date is seeing these kids (both HPSS and Arohanui) developing the powerful partnerships we talk of and allowing our learners to be fulfilling the school vision of…contributing confidently and responsibly in our changing world…alongside showing our Hobsonville Habits in action, including, being compassionate, contributive, purposeful and resourceful.

Doing things differently is not always easy!

Doing things differently is not always easy!

Coming back to the kaupapa! Things are pretty busy on the ground. Many different aspects to our model, how to have cohesion, develop capability and support. It is all a balancing act as a leader… Today I got the coaches to reflect back on our initial kaupapa doc and key parts to our role. Here is the two docs…

HPSS Kaupapa of the Learning Hub

The Learning Hub

A Learning Hub is a small group within a Learning Community. Each Learning Hub has a Learning Coach. They are central to the school’s goal to empower learners by “Innovating through personalising learning, Engaging through powerful partnerships, and inspiring through deep challenge and inquiry .

When the school is at full capacity, students will remain with the same Learning Hub for their time at school. This is so they will get to understand and know each other and their Learning Coach well. In the first few establishment years there will be some shifts due to growing groups. However, this will always be done by involving students and their families.

The Learning Coach is to act as the academic and pastoral mentor for each of their students. In this way, the Learning Hub is a support system for the learner and is a bit like an extended family. Within this system every student has an adult in the school who cares about him or her deeply.

The Learning Hub is a time for students to be exposed to a wide range of ideas, interests, skills and experiences which support their learning. During Learning Hub time students develop skills around learning to learn, and the habits to be successful inquirers and self-directed learners.

The Role of the Learning Coach

The Learning Coach has the opportunity to be a teacher of learning and to radically change the entire schooling experience for their students. An important role of the Learning Coach is to create a caring, intellectually stimulating and well-organised Learning Hub.

The Learning Coach is responsible for guiding each one of their students through their learning journey. The Learning Coach works with students to identify passions and link their interests and needs to their learning. Learners negotiate their LearnPath (personalised learning programme) with their Coach to ensure that what they are learning is relevant to them.

The Learning Coach supports learners to reach academic and personal excellence by supporting them to set learning goals, constantly revisiting them and revising them and to seek ways of supporting each learner to enjoy the success of achieving their goals. The Coach also works with learners to track their learning journey, to discuss learning issues and find solutions, provide pastoral care, provide guidance for life beyond school and build on learners’ capacities to take responsibility for their learning.


There was a lot of reflection by the coaches in my community, concerns over one on one time and how to facilitate this without just giving busy work, also still the difficulty of being in a new role and developing things on the ground. Finding a balance between time for developing capability and making things explicit, between teaching something separately or catching it in action -eg our habits and dispositions…How much is in the moment and how do we learn as we develop our understanding, it won’t just happen, we need to take the time…

To support but not too much, to build their capability…the interesting thing is that I made the shift from resourcing all to us all building our capability as coaches, by dividing up and sharing our resources around the habits and my-learning. In the reflections today hubs were coming back to wanting to do more on learning to learn and specific processes such as goal setting, how to skim and scan etc…

So…..it is all about balance, while returning to our kaupapa, a shift away from support the coaches, to actually WHY hubs!!!!

It was not long enough for our meeting so I need to revisit further… after the meeting I clarified our discussions with this email…

Kia ora all, just while it is fresh in our minds, I feel like we rushed past it this morning.

It was good to have time to reflect on hubs and coaching this morning. Thank you all for your honest reflections on things. As you are aware, it is a new role to all, that we are working on refining and developing as time goes on.

Hubs are an extremely important part of what we do with the learners/akonga here at HPSS.

I am also aware that there are a lot of parts to the model, these are parts that were co-contsructed early on in the process of the school as being important for developing the whole learner, their being, what they give to the community and how they go about learning in a time where knowledge is ever changing and readily accessible.

The way forward…

1. My learning is your responsibility as a hub coach…you had some very important feedback re this and learning to learn and what the kids need… it is finding a balance of this just in time teaching and supporting each other and growing our capabilities to talk about and recognise the habits in action, across all aspects of the school…as Martin said “capturing it as it happens”. The balance though is that we are all developing our understanding around this and it is different to anything we have done ever before.
So you decide what is best for your learners on a Monday, is it focusing on a habit, is it goal setting? Is it different things for different learners???

2. My communities is a time to draw on whanaungatanga in action etc… this does require what we have done with a bit of up front teaching of what this means… we can then as Jill said, use the students as teachers “Tuakana Teina” in action, try not to worry about the terms, however, I don’t think we should shy away from using aspects of Te Reo with our learners, even if it is new for us.

3. My-being is structured I realise (it took a while!!) But it should not be seen as something we are doing to learners….when you work with the learners on these activities, we are recognising their stresses, their worries, this truly is about knowing the learner.

This morning was not to stress you out about what you are not doing well, in the scheme of things it was mainly the one on one that came up as an issue. We can develop our skills in doing this better…but we must hold tight with the good things you are doing as coaches, that you do know your learners, that you know how to support good learning and that we are all developing in this role.

I believe you are all doing an amazing job and we can continue to refine and tweak to become even more awesome hub coaches. Remember also what we build now in our learners, they will be able to support younger learners later on.

Keep up the good work.


Where to now…. for me to rethink how I support, with the kaupapa always in mind, what do the akonga/ learners need, not what do the coaches need and how can I support the coaches to provide that….

Even though I have not been the best about the coaching with Suzanne, I often have reflective conversations with a mentor of mine at school here (guru and SCT Cindy), it is hard yakka on the ground leading in an environment where everything is so new, Cindy used the metaphor of trying to cut your way through the bush and making new paths with what you are doing, while it could be easy to revert back to what you know, sitting in your subject silo, doing what you have always done, we must hold strong to the why??? Keep coming back to why we are doing what we are doing.

It is about the akonga…