Whangaparaoa College caters for years 7-13 and has been in operation for 10 years. As part of their job application, our principals completed a Myers-Briggs personality test to ensure there was a balance of personality styles and skills. Recommendations from the Curriculum Stocktake (2002) were also considered, in particular, the review and refining of outcomes in essential learning areas. The principal at the time told everyone planning the curriculum to ‘chuck everything in the bin,’ metaphorically, and then plan based around themes. Once all the curriculum skills were chosen, they then asked what was crucial that was missing, added it in and ditched the rest.
Hattie’s research was influential in the planning of the school. His identification of the teacher as one of the most important factors in successful learning guided the teacher selection. However, many did not want to teach junior classes only so it was a challenge to find the right staff.
Academic Counselling is a key value. Learners spend one hour on a Wednesday with their Academic Counsellor. The focus for Term 1 was goal setting and in Term 2 the focus has been planning for the Learner Led Conferences happening in Week 10. Learners are asked to reflect on each subject with the guidance of the AC. They are then coached on how they will present this information to their family.
The school motto Together, Believe, Achieve reflects the importance of relationships and learner achievement. Our principal, James Thomas, believes in encouraging an Atmosphere of expectation. Boundaries are important: the teacher/coach sets firm boundaries but is not an authoritarian, or a teacher with a laissez-faire style. Communication is valued in the sense that a message is not truly communicated until it has been received. Hattie (2003) found that principals “…who create a climate of psychological safety to learn, who create a focus of discussion on student learning have the influence.”
My goal is to foster a positive, professional environment by role modelling the ABC and encouraging others to do the same. As I am a new HOL and new to the school, my priority is to build positive relationships with my department members. I have a vision for my department to be the leaders of the school in technology-enabled pedagogy but I am mindful of earning trust before mandating too much change.
Changes in the Profession
In the last few years Whangaparaoa College has been introducing BYOD to successive year levels. This has encouraged many teachers to reflect on their pedagogy and think about how they might incorporate the use of technology. The Teaching And Lead Learning group has been formed to address this challenge. I joined the TALL group this year and we have interviewed learners to find out what teachers are doing well and what could be improved. The results were then shared with staff by the learners. We are currently working collaboratively to create resources that will help teachers incorporate technology into their teaching practice.
In the English department and we are addressing these changes by sharing ideas. Each meeting, someone will share an app or website and show how they have been using it. We have learnt about School A to Z, Zaption, Google Sites, LitCharts, WordPress and MindMups. My department members seem to be enjoying this and we have all tried something new this year.
1. Hattie, J., 2003. Teachers Make a Difference: What is the research evidence? Retrieved from http://www.educationalleaders.govt.nz/content/download/501/3926/john_hattie.pdf
2. Recommendations from the curriculum stocktake. Retrieved from http://nzcurriculum.tki.org.nz/Archives/Curriculum-project-archives/Developing-the-draft/Recommendations-from-the-curriculum-stocktake
3. What Is Laissez-Faire Leadership? Retrieved from https://www.verywell.com/what-is-laissez-faire-leadership-2795316
4. Thanks to James Thomas, Lisa White and Jason Pocock for answering my questions and providing useful information for this post.