Moving curriculum design from teacher-centric to student-centric

Moving innovative practice and curriculum design from teacher-centric to student-centric without devaluing what we have to offer the learning journeys of our tauira We opened our Year 7-10 Junior High School in 2016, with 636 tauira across all 4 year levels. As an ILE (Innovative Learning Environment) school, we had the privilege of designing a curriculum that was not constrained by some of the issues faced in existing schools, and we were encouraged to do so. In 2015 as a leadership team, and with our teams on board in waves throughout the year before we opened, we visited a range of educational institutes from ECE through to tertiary, and engaged in professional learning. Throughout this time we developed a 3 layered approach to our curriculum.  The structure of our Learning Modules encouraged teachers to be creative, effective, and efficient in delivering learning experiences to tauira that took advantage of connections - between ideas, between prior learning experienc


Much like Sally Hart ( see her blog post here ), I could not spend the rest of today revelling in the All Black's glorious defeat of France, having read this article .  The danger these days is that scare-mongering fluff articles like this, that previously were consigned to the back pages or local rags, are now available free of charge online, to a potentially world-wide audience.  @Doctor_Harves has correctly pointed out that the journalist made no claims, that all claims were from interviewees. My response is that surely the author has some culpability by bringing the views from one side together, in one place and publishing them. My first, and strongest, response to this article is that it once again focused on the physical spaces in which learning occurs, as if that is the defining factor for the pedagogy that occurs inside.  How many tweets, blog posts and hashtags do we need to be able to be heard as a profession - it's about the pedagogy, #notaboutthebeanbags.  The art

Collaboration - what do we want it to look like?

In our recent round of interviews for our teaching staff, we asked only a few, but quite in-depth, questions.  One of them was on how applicants viewed successful collaboration between teachers in an ILE and how it enhanced student learning - because it needs to, otherwise there is little point in doing it. Most of the responses spoke about collaboration in the way it was currently done in traditional schools settings - what Farjana Ferdous (Jazan University, K.S.A.) describes as Grade Level Collaboration "Teachers working with other teachers to develop and implement instruction"  We think that in our environment where 3 teachers will be working together on a curriculum module that covers 2 learning areas of the curriculum, collaboration must be much deeper than this.  Their responses were understandably a product of their environment, as most are coming from traditional schools. Ferdous goes on to describe Co-Teaching/Collaboration Teaching and Cross-Curricular Collaborati

Road Trippin'

One of the most privileged parts of our job right now is having the time to visit other schools during instruction time, to see them in action.  While we have learnt different things from, and focused on different things within each school, a common thread throughout each visit is the warmth with which we are welcomed, and the generosity of people's time when there is already so little of it. We spent 2 days visiting Hobsonville Point Secondary School.  The welcome and (again) the generosity of time, resources (and food and coffee) was amazing. Maurie, Lea and Di each spent time with us sharing their journey, their ideas and their vision (Claire was in Wellington - but I'm sure would have been just as generous). The most value, though, came from Maurie standing at the whiteboard wall asking us "So what are you about? What do you want to be?" It made us articulate how much we valued a dispositional curriculum and wanted to give it as much essence in our dai

A new journey

How do you start a school in the way that you mean to go on?  You'd have to argue that creating a learning culture that values a dispositional curriculum as much as an academic one is easier than changing a existing and embedded culture, but where to start? Last week was the first 'official' one of my new job.  Over the past few weeks we have been working with the EBOT on the emerging vision of the school.  We refined their ideas using a hierarchy chart and post-it notes.  We valued the most, ideas such as, a sense of belonging, recognising the uniqueness of all learners, being connected, having motivation and confidence, being part of a community, resilience, creativity and curiosity.  From here we started developing our Vision: Connect, Inspire, Soar: Empower our people to be connected, collaborative, community-minded learners inspired to soar to their potential.  We have taken inspiration from the kāhu - a bird frequently seen in our area and that our hapu see as c

Blurring the lines - my exciting term with Year 9 Science

You may have seen from a previous post that we have been working towards aligning our junior curriculum across the 'core subjects' to offer more opportunity for cross-curricular learning.  At the whole school level, we assigned themes to terms.  This gentle approach allowed for buy in, and buy out. An English teacher and I, who teach the same class, decided to buy in.  It started with conversations over morning tea (it helps that we tend to gravitate towards each other in the staff room). Innocuous conversations around "What are you doing with 9xx at the moment?" On one fortuitous day, we could see a link, she was doing poetry, I was doing planets, and she suggested they do poems about planets. She had a cool example of a Magic Box poem lesson , and wanted students to be imaginative about what it might be like to be on the planet.  They got to work on their poems in both English and Science, and thought that was pretty cool, as they got to ask us both questions.

I am humbled....

I am once again humbled by my students.  This year has seem some significant change in my classroom.  I have new furniture, we have become a compulsory BYOD, I am using SOLO taxonomy and Google classroom like a manic, and have changed assessment practices to be more intuitive with learning. My students haven't skipped a beat. They have taken everything new in their stride, getting on with it as they always have. The furniture has been a wonderful addition to my room.  I had the "cowards castle" front teacher's bench removed, making the room more open and accessible.  There is no more barrier between myself and the students, and no laptop to be distracted by while my students are working independently.  Now I am forced to wonder around the room bugging and distracting them (as they would say) - it's been one of the best thing I've done in here.  I am lucky to have a large room, there are more seating spaces than students. This gives them the opportunity