HPSS 5.0 - The Journey So Far

This week marked my fifth anniversary as Deputy Principal at Hobsonville Point Secondary School and more importantly the first year that we will operate as a fully fledged high school, offering programmes for Year 9-13.

It has been an incredible journey, one that involved an incredible amount of work from an evolving team of committed educators who have not only reimagined secondary learning at HPSS but have influenced changing educational models around the country.

It is heartening to see when we reflect on where we started with students in 2014, that much has remained the same. This was taken from the introduction to the school  which I wrote back in our first week of operation:

HPSS is a co-educational state school located in Hobsonville Point, Auckland. We are a MLE (modern learning environment) which means we are a large open plan school, typified by open flexible learning spaces, break out rooms and specialised learning spaces. The furniture is varied, including high bar leaners…

The Joy of Teaching - 20 years of teaching and 20 reasons why this is the best career choice ever!

Next week marks my 20th anniversary as an educator. In 1998 I began my teaching career as an English and Drama teacher at Rangitoto College. Twenty years and I still freakin' love this job and really do struggle to understand why more people are fighting to join us in what I believe is one of the most rewarding, challenging and bloody entertaining jobs and careers you can have.

I also promised my critical friend Steve Mouldey that I would begin blogging again. His word/theme for the year is #optimistic, I've decided my word/theme for the year is #positivity. To this end I thought I'd celebrate my 20th teaching anniversary with a blog about the twenty reasons I believe teaching and education is the best career choice ever.

1) What we do is important
There is no question. Being a teaching is one of the most important roles in our community. We are not only fantastic caretakers and babysitters for much of the year, we are also trusted to provide young people with the knowledge…

Introducing City Senior School at The Launching Pad

In November last year I was lucky enough to attend the SingularityU Summit in Christchurch. It was an awesome three days. It reignited my love of futures thinking and served as a swift kick in the pants.

I wrote this blogpost. 

I went back to school.

I felt unsettled.

I needed someone to help me process my thinking.

So a week or so later I called up my friend and now business partner and co-founder Brett O'Riley. I knew Brett had attended the SingularityU Executive Training in the US and I also knew he shared my frustration at the seemingly glacial pace of change in education. I shared my thinking and a vision for a school that was part school and part innovation co-working space. I wanted to know why we weren't leveraging digital technology to support more self-directed study in a social learning environment. I wanted to know why schools weren't more like GridAKL? Why are young people still in uniforms "PAC-MANing" their way through disconnected and fragmented t…

Communities of Status Quo: Is there enough disruption in your Community of Learning??

Over the last year or so I have thoroughly enjoyed being part of the establishment of what looks to be a particularly fabulous West Auckland COL - Te Whiria te Tangata. It is great to see school communities of schools coming together to collaborate to improve student outcomes. It is great to see school communities of schools collaborating, full stop.

However I do have a concern. I am not concerned that communities of learning won't see schools coming together to improve learner outcomes, what I am concerned about is that they may not, because of their very structure and achievement challenges, actually change much else. When scanning the endorsed achievement challenges and in the conversations I have had with many colleagues from a range of communities, I keep thinking, is there much within COL plans and achievement challenges that move beyond the paradigm of business as usual? Or are we simply going to see communities of schools holding hands, singing kumbaya and patting their r…

Teaching as Inquiry: A mechanism for leading meaningful and manageable pedagogical change (and integrating Digital Technologies)

In light of this week's announcement from Minister of Education Nikki Kaye, it felt like the right time to re-publish this post. As pressure ramps up to integrate digital technologies and strategies, I heartily encourage you to use e-learning infused Teaching as Inquiry or Spirals of Inquiry within your school or COL as a way to lead meaningful and manageable change! It is so important that schools find a way to tackle the integration of the Digital Technologies head on, but do so in a way that is firmly focused on the learner rather than the tool or technology.  Issue An important leadership issue that exists at a micro (school) and macro (systemic/national) level is that school-based, episodic and initiative-focused professional development does not support meaningful and manageable pedagogical change to occur.

This is particularly important as many New Zealand schools have been expected to design and implement a school curriculum based on the New Zealand Curriculum from …

Future Focused Assessment - imagine if schools did no high stakes assessment...

Today I was lucky enough to attend the Ministry of Education Cross Sector Forum where they were launching the Digital Technologies curriculum draft (check it out here and provide your feedback). 
It was an excellent event. The Lynfield College Robotics group kicked off the event, charming the room with their articulate argument for technology across and within the curriculum. Then our new Minister of Education, the Honourable Nikki Kaye, provided an excellent insight into her vision for education, I got the sense that the Minister is well positioned to prepare the sector for the exponential change that is closer than we think. Her vision for digital transformation was bold (the need for which was excellently articulated by Frances Valintine's keynote) and her message was clear - we need to act and we need act now! It was also clear that the Minister understands that there are very real issues with teacher wellbeing and workload and intends to address this head on as well. Good mo…

It's not about our students not being school ready, it's about our schools not being 21st Century child ready

In one of the many fantastic staffroom chats I get to have every week at HPSS there is one that keeps coming back to me. Last week I was chatting to my lovely colleague Heemi McDonald (make sure you read his blog) about the growing regularity of school leader meetings I seem to be sitting in on where educators are voicing concerns about increasing numbers of students coming in with more learning needs than before. Principals now more than ever are struggling with meeting the diverse needs of young children and young adults with increasingly complex needs. I myself have engaged in discussion where we have tried to find the source of these "issues". Is it the development in medicine that has seen more premature babies survive who may have experienced all kinds of complications? Is the increased screen time? Is it the sugar and processed food? The increasing amount of time toddlers spend in daycare?? The reasons, and ultimately the excuses, for children not being "ready&q…