Reflecting on my journey so far I must admit that I didn’t realise how completed exhausted I would be in this new role.
We have spent the week looking at the values and vision of the school, visiting the new site and the school zone, getting to know each other – which is really, really, really important – and trying to begin to make sense of the reality of starting a school from scratch.
After our work on the values of the school on Wednesday, I couldn’t stop thinking about values in general. Schools are very upfront about what values shape their philosophy, pedagogy and everyday life. I have been so impressed so far is the fact that the values and vision of Hobsonville Point Secondary are going to be to the fore in the school. I was thinking about what a society would be like where all institutions were held accountable against their purported values. Throughout history there are numerous examples of leaders/ societies stating their values, their vision and how they are going to be achieved. Yet, often this is not the case.
The session we had on values reinforced why I made the decision to leave my old school and apply for a job here. I truly believe in students/ teachers/ whanau/ community working collaboratively to foster and develop opportunities for authentic learning. I love the idea of student centred learning and everything that it encompasses.
Having being reassured on Wednesday, we went over to the building site on Thursday. After donning hard hats and high-vis vests, we were led through the site to really imagine all parts of the school. While I really loved the architecture of the specialised learning areas, it was the learning commons which really excited me. Structurally, the building reinforces the values of the school – personalised learning, powerful partnerships and empowered learners. Looking straight through the site was brilliant – the light, use of glass and openness will demystify the teaching and learning – something I am really looking forward to having been in ‘Nelson Block’ for the last 9 years. I am really looking forward to moving from being restricted by the four walls of the classroom and teaching within my curriculum area to working alongside others who are doing a range of different types of learning.
It is impossible to work at a level of continued excitement. By Friday, I was absolutely drained. Thankfully we were given just the right task to work on. We were sent out on a ‘zone discovery’ day to explore the four areas which make up the Hobsonville Secondary School zone. Our mission, should we choose to accept it, (and we did) was to find out about local cafes, the feeder schools, the neighbourhoods and document it all so that we could begin to build a sense of our community and present it as a video. Being teachers, we over-analysed the situation, with my only contribution being that we needed a story of some kind (I was feeling rather uninspired). Sally’s vast knowledge of iPad apps was quickly utilised and we settled on iLapse driving shots and whatever took our fancy at each location – including ‘history factoids’. The video was great fun to make and it looks quite good!
Monday back at school after a relaxing weekend was spent visiting the senior learning commons at Hobsonville Point Primary School. We had an opportunity to introduce ourselves to the students and pick their brains a little bit about the teachers (perceptions and expectations), learning (how/what they like to learn, their project-based learning, collaborative learning) and expectations (of high school, about co-curricular activities). This was great and we gleaned a lot of information which we will now do something with.
I am still feeling overwhelmed by the challenge of what we are about to do but the feeling of ‘why did they hire me’ is beginning to fade. One of the hardest adjustments is to work with so many like-minded people. I am so used to being in the position of the blue-sky thinker who tries new/odd things by myself, it is so unusual to have those same ideas mirrored back during discussion. I still feel the urge to pinch myself about the opportunity afforded here. After nearly 11 years of teaching, I am really enjoying learning again.
My current learning:
- Slowing down the pace – not everything needs to be done in a few minutes
- Taking time to read, think, reflect – my manic pace of the last few years will take some time to unlearn
- the Ukulele while small, is not an easy instrument to play