Making a mess and muddling through

It has been a busy old time here at Hobsonville Point Secondary.  I try to convince others of the fact that this job is really challenging, we are busy a lot and that we work really hard. I guess, from the perspective of my really busy teacher friends, it may not look it compared to the usual term three busyness. But I am still loving the challenge of this new role, setting up the learning hubs at Hobsonville Point with Lea, Yasmin and Sally (and the other brilliant staff!) and when you are starting something anew it is much harder than working within the status quo.

Last week we continued in our teams and the LTLs (Learning Team Leaders) chose to take some of our essential practices and investigate them in more depth. Sally took ‘knowing the learner’ and ‘whanau contact’, Yasmin took ‘passion projects’ and I looked into ‘powerful feedback’ and ‘learning to learn’. We spent a few days pulling together resources on both the principles behind these and the practices we need to imbed in the learning hubs. I really enjoyed this, especially looking at things that I thought I already knew about. I loved looking at how to imbed ‘learning to learn’ – having taught around this concept in NZ and in the UK.  I came back to how the SOLO taxonomy can be so powerful. I had a real life authentic learning moment when trying to collate and present these resources. I created my first google site and made it work through trial and error. I love that I am absolutely a learner!

I must admit that I didn’t spend a great deal of time collating sources and resources for ‘powerful feedback’. I feel confident from my research that the most powerful feedback is from learner to learner, about their self-regulation which is dialogic in nature.  At some point shortly I will finish my second Google Site – I have a lot of ideas, tools and strategies to share and I see an opportunity for us here at HPSS to empower our students using powerful feedback.

The great Latin poet, Virgil, holding a volume on which is written the Aeneid. On either side stand the two muses: “Clio” (history) and “Melpomene” (tragedy). The mosaic, which dates from the 3rd Century A.D., was discovered in the Hadrumetum in Sousse, Tunisia and is now on display in the Bardo Museum in Tunis, Tunisia.

On Wednesday I went to the Classical Studies Scholarship Students’ Conference at Rangitoto College. I love that I am still involved in the subject I am so passionate about and it was brilliant to work alongside such empowered, passionate students. I was particularly impressed by the Northcote College students, naturally, as they challenged assumptions and were active in their learning. This is what effective learning is about and it was great to see so many students from different high schools in Auckland exploring their higher order thinking skills. Dr. Jeremy Armstrong from the University of Auckland presented on the rewriting of history in the Augustan age in Rome. I loved that I was making links between the Augustan principate and their revision of early Rome with what we are trying to do here at HPSS.  Augustus’ poets and writers rewrote, or hacked, history to make it work to reflect the ideals that they were espousing. What they put out became the vision. Nobody questioned the interpretation of the Aeneas myth because Virgil told such a good rendition that it became ‘THE’ myth. While we are not that ruthless here at HPSS, I could not help but make links between the idea of curriculum ‘hacking’ – a term oft used at Hobby High – and that what we are planning on doing (alongside other schools) could become ‘THE’ way for 21st century education. Just like Virgil, we are taking the best bits of history, in our case pedagogy, research and practice, and using it to shape a school which will truly put students in the centre. Pretty powerful stuff.

The LTL and SLL (Specialist Learning Leaders) teams shared what we had been up during the week on Thursday. This was brilliant. I loved seeing how each team approaches the different parts of our curriculum and how they are going to bring it to life. I would love to be a learner here!

I met a bit of an obstacle on Friday. I am my worst enemy and during a discussion with the LTLs got myself in such a muddle that I was speaking in metaphors, trying to explain something that was bumping around in my head which was proving to be as elusive as Alice’s white rabbit. The more I chased it, the more it dashed just out of reach.  I ended up getting a little bossier than I would like, I didn’t react the way I usually would and I found it difficult when working in a new team. In the weekend, I managed to reflect on both the process and my elusive thoughts… I found the white rabbit and was assured today at work that I was chasing the right white rabbit after all!

Monday was a teacher only day with Hobsonville Point Primary Staff. We had an unconference style day in the morning. Low and behold, I was presenting on powerful feedback.  I really enjoyed learning from Daniel, Kristyn, Erin and Lisa S.  I look forward to learning a lot more from them as we progress in setting up our school.