Visitations, urban racing and d.sign

Visiting two schools in a modern learning environment (MLE) was a real eye-opener last week.  We were fortunate enough to spend a morning at Albany Senior High School and an afternoon at Ormiston Senior College. Each school had their own approach to how they were utilising a MLE to work for their students. I really appreciated being able to see a normal school day – especially the tutorial time at Albany Senior.  After working in a bubble, away from senior school students, it was a dose of reality to see both schools at work. The staff took time to answer our questions, which ranged from far-reaching vision statements to mundane, pedantic matters, and the sense of collegiality and networking beyond their school hubs was apparent.

Friday morning was spent with Mark Osborne, HPSS’s critical friend, who challenged us on the work we had done so far. Poor Mark couldn’t get a word in edge ways, the LOLs are quite loud, but he did challenge us to make sure that we were living the vision we all feel so passionately about.  He had a few pearls of wisdom to share, my fave was ‘vision without implementation is hallucination‘. I am determined to do my bit to get the vision working in practice and to be brave enough to say that if we are ever just hallucinating, we need to get real (again).

We spent Monday moseying around the city on an urban team building adventure. The course that Lea (and whanau) laid out for us opened my eyes to parts of my city I overlook. I really love getting to know all of the SLT and LOLs in more detail and in greater depth. We explored the Auckland city sculpture trail and had the mission of taking ‘creative’ photos of our team at each sculpture. There were two clear highlights for me – one was when I managed to wangle our way onto a super yacht by asking (you’ve got to be in it to win it) and the other was Sally expertly calling over some Japanese youths with impeccable – to my ears – Japanese. Our team is full of surprises!

After a delicious Mexican lunch, we were whisked away by Di to a design thinking workshop. Even though my tummy was full and my brain feeling sluggish, I really enjoyed this.  Once we started on our design thinking course at NZ Trade and Enterprise (based on the Stanford model) I was in like Flynn!  I worked with Maurie on finding a more innovative way of solving our very specific ‘gift-giving’ issues. What I enjoyed most, aside from Maurie’s brilliant solution to my problem, was that we are going to embed this approach at Hobsonville Point Secondary. How exciting for all learners, students and teachers, to move beyond the obvious, staid means of problem solving into something which is a more creative process and where the skills can be applied to so many situations.

Today was back to business as usual at HPSS.  We spent time as a team (ukuleles, shared stories and shared pictures from yesterday) and also had time to complete our own work. I was pleased to complete one of my my professional readings – on supporting future focused learning and teaching . I have documented my thoughts in another page on my blog which I am hoping to update frequently. I really enjoyed this reading and came back to it on more than one occasion.  I found the executive summary the most useful but was repeatedly reminded when reading how the ‘future-focused’ part is really just common sense.  I took great stead in the fact that I thought this too. However, upon completion of my notes on the reading I realised that while it is common sense, I can imagine that it would be much easier to implement these recommendations when starting a school from scratch.

Currently I am reading Ken Robinson’s ‘The Element’ which is proving to be too hard to put down. I knew that I was in my element when I woke up this morning, after a fairly terrible sleep, and immediately picked up where I left off.  I feel so inspired to be working somewhere where we will encourage students to find, develop and extend their passions – to work in their element.

My thoughts this week:

  • Having time to read and think is so important – what a luxury!
  • there are so many exciting people / ideas to tap into to help shape what is going to be a brilliant school
  • Mark’s quote rings true – vision without implementation is hallucination
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