Over the last few months I have been asked to explain what my job is. People used to understand that I was the Head of the Classical Studies Department but when I tried to explain that I was one of the Learning Team Leaders at Hobsonville Point Secondary they were stumped. So I tried to break it down, I explained what Learning Hubs were about and then said that I was leading a group of these in a Learning Community. As this point I either got glazed expressions or nods (usually polite ones). So then I tried using analogies (this worked with teacher friends) – “I’m kind of like a dean, who is also a head of house, who has some responsibility for professional learning, who still has a tutor group, who provides support for other tutors but doesn’t dictate what learning needs to look like”. What a mouthful and I’m not convinced that the description is 100% accurate.
So, what is a ‘Learning Hub’?
A Learning Hub is a structural part of our school organisation. It is a small group of students (maximum 15) who work closely with each other and one significant adult, their Learning Coach. Each Learning Hub is part of a larger Learning Community – the three inaugural communities at HPSS are Taheretikitiki, Waiarohia and Tiriwa. For the whole time the students are at school they will stay in the same Learning Hub. In doing so, they will develop positive partnerships with their coach, other members of the mixed age hub, other hubs in the community and whanau. Hub time is part of the school timetable – every morning hubs get together to co-construct learning and build relationships and there are two extended blocks of time in the week where students will engage in a variety of activities around learning to learn, goal setting, reflecting on learning etc.
Learning hubs are where the distinct aspects of our school curriculum come together. Learning in the hubs focuses around ‘my being’, ‘my learning’ and ‘my communities’. The student is at the centre of learning and the whole student is developed using this model.
- My Being focuses on the student’s well being (hauroa) and their individual learning preferences (quadrants based on Hermann’s brain).
- My Community focuses on the students manaakitanga (moral purpose), whanaungatanga (relationships) and whenua (connection with place)
- My Learning focuses on goal setting, gathering and using evidence, phases of the HPSS Learning Design model, learning to learn, and reflecting on learning
The aspects of the Learning Hub model are surrounded by the Hobsonville Habits which underpin all that we do at Hobsonville Point Secondary School – adventurous, creative, compassionate, contributive, purposeful, reflective, resilient, resourceful, responsive.
A Learning Hub essentially becomes a family at school for students. Learning Hubs are inspired by a range of educational research and practice, including the learning advisory model used in Big Picture schools.
What is a ‘Learning Coach’?
A Learning Coach is the significant adult for up to 15 students at Hobsonville Point Secondary. They are the academic and pastoral mentor for the students in their hub. Their focus is on the individual students in their hub – working alongside the students and families to create a caring, supportive, challenging environment, acknowledging and supporting personal interests and passions, guiding the students through their personalised learn path (co-constructed path through the big projects, passion projects and specialised learning modules).
Learning Coaches work with students in their hubs to reach academic and personal goals through careful support and guidance. Coaches will conference with each student in their hub once per fortnight – the focus ranges from goal setting, to co-constructing evidence of learning, to module selection, to ….? Liaising with family is a key part of a coach’s role – they will be in regular contact with parents. After each conference, parents will be contacted by the coach to share what happened and what the next steps are. This as a form of frequent reporting will be powerful for both the learners and their families. Once a term, the students will run an individual education meeting, with the support of their coach. In doing so, the coach supports the students to become empowered and active in their learning.
What is an ‘Learning Team Leader’?
A Learning Team Leader oversees all of this for a community. In 2014 there are three LTLs at HPSS – Sally leads Waiarohia, Yasmin leads Tiriwa and I lead Taheretikitiki. So my description above comes close to describing what we do… but it doesn’t do it justice. It has been a privilege to work with such enthusiastic LTLs to really shape what the Learning Hubs will look like here. We are led by Lea, as Deputy Principal in charge of Learning Relationships.
What does it look like in practice?
That is something that is still evolving, afterall it is only our second day with students! But what I have seen so far is that the students are already forming good bonds, coaches work with small groups to really spend time with each students personalising their learning. There is a strong sense of place – the experience of being overwhelmed that many students have on the first day of school were minimised. The focus of conversation is around fun, relationships and learning. I’ve yet to overhear a conversation about incorrect uniform – nor do I want to! Coaches are empowered to modify and change plans to suit the needs of their learners. It is pretty exciting stuff.
To sum it up in the words of Orakei hub (my hub in Taheretikitiki community) – awesome, fun and exciting!