Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Our incredible staff

After a  long morning at my PLG  today, I wasn't too sure how I would get on sitting on for another hour and a half while we shared back about our teacher only day experiences. I couldn't have wished for a more engaging session. I couldn't be more proud of each person, the way they had prepared their thoughts and the thoughtful questions following each talk. We are all deep in our own learning pit. It's  fascinating hearing people make sense of their learning and establish their own next steps right in front of us. To date this year, it has been my favourite moment at school.

Two weeks ago we had all gone off in different directions visiting people that would support our professional learning. At this point in my post I must point out that staff had been given freedom and a budget to go wherever their funds could take them. Two of us ended up in the same schools, everyone else went different places. Schools visited were Tamatea Intermediate and Richmond School, in Napier, Parkland  School and Whakarongo School in Palmerston  North, Parkvale School and Mahora School in Hastings, Tokomaru School and Shannon School in Horowhenua and Resource teachers of literacy in Feilding and Palmerston North. I shared about my experiences, thoughts and wonderings after visiting schools in Christchurch - Hallswell, Waitakiri, Pegasus Bay, Clarkville and Breens  Intermediate.

Why not take the whole school staff to the same place? Because I don't believe this would have met each person's learning needs. It also would not have led to the diverse range of experiences, thinking and follow ups. Through having choice, engagement followed. Teachers were highly motivated because they could choose something that was relevant, topical and meaningful to them. They weren't having to tag along because someone had organised the day for them. I won't keep going on - those leaders who are implementing personalized learning in the school, I hope, are extending this pedagogical approach to the adult akonga in their own places of learning. We know that young learners enjoy having choice and adult learning theory supports this approach too.

While the majority of our experiences were supporting our work to implement personalized learning, so many other outcomes have come from these professional learning experiences. Thank you to the schools and people we visited. If we are able to action even some of the many, many ideas that came from our experiences, our school and therefore our learners will benefit greatly.

Thank you to the incredible staff at our school. Today was a highlight.

Monday, June 15, 2015

Measuring what we do.

A question I asked as part of my sabbatical was how schools are measuring the impact of the actions they are taking in personalising learning.
For me, taking a personalised approach supports the development of the KCs - so we needed to establish a starting point on how we might monitor learner progress in relation to becoming more skilled in the KCs.
Our school has a strong and relevant model that brings KCs and values from the NZC together.

We needed to add clarity for our learners so they could see what each of the "flags" really meant and then how to improve in each of these key areas. We've introduced the terms; dependent, assisted, independent and self-guiding to categorise the stages that learners might move between as they become more competent.

Teams have developed rubrics that allow learners to see where they are on the Bridge to Life and learners have used this rubric to self-assess and place themselves in their 'best fit' stage.
It's an exciting development for our school - we have some common language that extends across the school and clearly shows a progression for our learners. It's a great starting point and I know that these will be refined and further developed over time as we use them more. Each class has these displayed and classes have adopted different ways of having learners "show" where they fit best, and therefore what their goal is in becoming "the best me I can be".

The rubrics will be a tool we can use to monitor learner progress and hopefully as evidence that our approach is further developing learner capability in the KCs. By gathering in sheets that learners have assessed themselves on and tracking them over time, we will be able to see if they are progressing or not and also establish if the rubric is learner friendly.

Is school just preparation for life?