Thursday, 15 November 2018

"We shape our buildings ... "

It's my favourite Churchill quote again: "We shape our buildings, thereafter they shape us."

Image result for churchill creative commons

We began our Year 7 to 10 passion projects this past week. The passion projects are our third iteration of what began in 2016 as project based learning with Year 10 students. This evolved in 2017 to include Year 9s and 10s. This year we have attempted a new iteration that embodies what we have learned from the previous two years, but we have also incorporated what we learned from an inspirational visit to Campion College in Gisborne.

Students identified things they are passionate about. Staff did likewise. We then put these two lists together and produced a list that offered students many of their choices, run by staff who shared similar passions. All of that in itself is pretty amazing, and reflects fantastic creative thinking and commitment from staff.

What is also really gratifying are the comments from one colleague who observed the following. Students in our new building were 'working the building'. So, they might sit in a collaborative area researching aspects of their proposal. Already they have been seen to transition to science labs, creative arts spaces, and technology spaces, as they investigate and work on different aspects of their projects, perhaps seeing the different spaces that enable them to complete different aspects of their projects.

Now to me that looks very much like the real world, and it also looks very much like what we describe as the 'connected curriculum', where subject silos have been subsumed by the project. That is, it's not about the science, or the technology, or any other individual subject, but about how these 'subjects' merely reflect the skills and tools that they are in the world of work.  We all learn things when we see the need to do so. The projects are creating the 'desire to learn' as they reflect the need to learn specific skills and knowledge.

The building spaces we designed are enablers. Single cell rooms would act as limiting factors in allowing these connections to occur, but the adjoining spaces we now live and work in allow knowledge and skills to be seen, and learned, in context rather than isolation, and for a 'flow' to easily develop between these areas.

And perhaps most powerfully of all, we are seeing our 'Learn Create Share' pedagogy fully enabled by the spaces. In many cases, I think students begin with the act of creation. They are then finding that there are skills and knowledge that they need to learn. On a daily basis students are sharing their thinking and their progress on their blogs. And their ultimate act of sharing will take place on our 'Exhibition Day' on Thursday 6th December.

Even after the first week the levels of student engagement are clear and visible to anyone who cares to look. In term 4, when life for Year 9 and 10 students can become wearisome, when students are beginning to enter 'holiday mode', we are seeing students actively engaged in their own learning.

Manaiakalani (as I understand it) translates as 'Hook from Heaven'. Perhaps it might also be taken to mean 'Gift from Heaven', because it certainly is, and our buildings are enabling the pedagogy that IS Manaiakalani.

Big open spaces don't enhance or improve learning if we continue to do things as we have for the past 150 years. They do however enhance or improve learning when we, as educators, change our own paradigm, when we change our pedagogy, when we change the way we do things.

Our strategic plan for our kura has set our vision to be 'a centre of creative excellence'. That vision is an aspiration, it is our 'pole star' by which we navigate, in much the same way that our original Polynesian navigators shaped their journeys. And like them we know that we are taking risks. One of our strategic goals is to develop innovative risk taking leadership, because we know that the best in creativity requires us to take risks. Our staff team is proving to be magnificent in taking those risks, and I suggest that they are inspiring our rangatahi to do the same. Another staff member observed that several rangatahi commented that they saw staff as learners too.

We also seek to develop individualised pathways for our learners. When you are following your passion, that is exactly what you are doing. And we believe that that is enabled by Manaiakalani and our 'Learn Create Share' pedagogy. This is.

I could not be more excited. I could not be more inspired, as I watch our staff team, and our amazing rangatahi, develop their own risk taking, as they pursue their own passions, as they venture forth yet again on our quest for creative excellence.

Strong pedagogy. Amazing spaces. Risk taking staff and students. All combining to propel us towards that vision: 'a centre of creative excellence'.

Ka mau te wehi!!!

Monday, 5 November 2018

Principal's Prize Giving address

Tihei Mauri Ora!

Mā te huruhuru, ka rere te manu
‘Feathers enable the bird to fly’

Board Chair, Mrs Kaye Banks, fellow Board of Trustees members, Te Taumutu runanga, The Hon Dr Megan Woods, honoured guests, colleagues, parents and friends, ladies and gentlemen, students of Hornby High School  - welcome to this 44th senior prize giving of Hornby High School.

Kaye Banks, Jonty Ward, Donna Sullivan, Rochelle Jackson and Penny Devine have served on the Board this past year. George Wharerau was elected as the new student representative in September 2017. George relinquished his position part way through the year and was replaced by Shardey Harris who completed the term. In the 2018 student election we welcomed Crystal Edminstin to the Board as student representative. Thank you to you all for for your time, work and wisdom.

The year has seen a number of staff movements. Mrs Helen Boothby left us to work in the United Kingdom early in term 3, and was replaced by Mr Daniel Reizinger. Mrs Jane Turner (History) left on maternity leave, and was replaced by Miss Nicole Eastwick and Mr Sam Stokes.

Mrs Janette Merrin left us for a position with the Ministry of Education, and Miss Alex Aitken gained permanent appointment as HOD Health. Mrs Carla Gibson left us after 4 and a half years to pursue a career in the hospitality industry as a small business owner.

At the beginning of the year we were joined by Tracey Allen, Chelsea Birtch, Raewyn Davis, Aaron Heath, Abbie Keene and Sam Tisch. At the end of term one Ms Keene took maternity leave for terms 2 and 3, and was replaced by Mr Michael Collins.

Mrs Laurie Tafau left us for one year to take up a fixed term position as Assistant Principal at Avonside Girls’ High School, and was replaced by Ms Annabelle Simpson. We also received the resignation of Mr John Minto as he prepares for a well earned retirement. John, I have to say I cannot for a single instant imagine you resting, I cannot picture you sitting still. Thank you for your powerful contribution to our kura, and for your powerful ambition for our rangatahi.

Mr John Simons who has lead the Hornby Technical Centre of Hornby High School since 2014 announced his departure from the end of the year. Thank you John for your sizeable contribution to the learning and development of tamariki from across and outside our cluster.

We also received the resignation of Mr Jon Rogers who looks forward to retirement from 2019. He was replaced by Mr Jack Goodfellow who joins us from Lincoln High School at the beginning of 2019. I will have more to say about Jon later in our prizegiving.

Much of our attention over this past year has been occupied with our school rebuild. Stage 1 of the  rebuild was completed at the end of term 2, and we moved into those buildings for the beginning of term 3. Everything about the design of those buildings was deliberate, and once more i’d like to express our gratitude to the architects Del Love, Abbie Whangaparita, and Simon Richmond, from Stephenson and Turner for their wonderful work turning our vision for curriculum adaptation and change into our physical reality. I’d also like to place on record our thanks to our project managers from OCTA, and Mr Robert Lyall from the Ministry of education, and to the team from Leighs Construction for their wonderful work in helping us to realise our vision.

But a school is more than it’s buildings:

He aha te mea nui o te ao
He tangata, he tangata, he tangata

What is the most important thing in the world?
It is the people, it is the people, it is the people

To our wonderful staff, thank you. You have taken on board a huge workload, you have embraced change, you have been prepared to try different ways of doing things. As I mentioned in an assembly address to the junior school just last week, if we are to realise our vision as ‘a centre of creative excellence’, we must all be prepared to take risks, and your responses to our new environment have shown your willingness to do that, with project based learning, and passion projects, with collaboration and the acceptance that classrooms don’t always need walls and closed doors (although sometimes they do).

And to our wonderful rangatahi, well done. I’d like to read a poem that I also read to the junior school last week. It is one of my favourites, it is a poem that well describes the need to take risks, the need to push boundaries, the drive to find new paths.

The Road Not Taken
Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;

Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,

And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

You too must take risks, you too must be prepared to look at the world with fresh eyes. You too need to see things in ways that have perhaps never been imagined before. Your academic and sporting achievements which we celebrate here tonight continue to ascend the heights of excellence as you push your own personal boundaries.

One thing I can say, one thing you as students may not realise, is that our new buildings have changed you. They have changed you in a profound way. Parents and whānau, you need to know that at school your children have changed. They are still wonderful human beings. But they are also now ever more respectful, they are now ever more confident, they are now ever more willing to take those calculated risks that are essential to growth and to creativity.

Over this past year we have witnessed perhaps the most powerful force for change, the force of student passion and desire. It is you, our rangatahi, who said “Hey, stop deriding our school”. It is your, our rangatahi, who said “We are good enough”. It is you, our rangatahi, who said “We are proud of our school.” It is you, our rangatahi, who began our #manahoromaka, our #hornbypride, campaign. And it is you, our rangatahi, who have pushed that campaign out to the remainder of the school. Well done .. ka mau te wehi.

Let me tell you a short story. At the beginning of this term we began our interviews with new whānau and their children prior to them entering our kura at the start of next year. I was interviewing a father and son, both of whom were new to the school. The father said “You are proud of this school, aren’t you”. I replied ‘Yes we are”. He then said “When I dropped our enrolment forms off at reception, I could see it in your kids.”

There is one area of change at Hornby High School that does not represent risk, but rather an evidence based shift in teaching and learning that is more powerful than any other I have seen in my 40 years in education, and that is the Manaiakalani philosophy on which everything we do is founded.

The evidence base for the efficacy, the power, the impact, of ‘Learn Create Share’ grows month by month, year by year. The evidence is robust and authentic, the impact of the pedagogy so huge that it accelerates learning by up to twice national averages as measured by standardised nationally normed tests. This is not some piece of fanciful educational hope. This is real, palpable, and world changing.

To parents and whānau I make this plea. The Manaiakalani evidence offers the same conclusions as a much wider range of robust evidence: your connection with your child’s learning has a massive impact on her or his learning. All students across our kura are expected to be active bloggers. A blog is a way of making learning highly visible and accessible to the world, and we know that visibility promotes clearer thinking and active learning. Whānau - your engagement with those blogs is vital. Every child feels a huge sense of achievement and engagement when parents and whānau make comment on their blogs. Please Please please get involved. To paraphrase that wonderful African saying says ‘It takes a village to raise a child’, I would say “it takes a community to educate a child”. Your presence in your child’s education is a great present, a great gift, for your children. Get involved, get commenting.

And in that regard I want to acknowledge the support and confidence of the Greater Christchurch Schools Network who have given a significant grant from their innovation fund to support our innovative initiative to employ members of the community to work with you in your homes, one to one, giving you (we hope) the skills and confidence to get involved with your child’s learning. Being ‘A centre of creative excellence’ requires us to take risks, to try new things. This is new, this is a creative way of helping to improve learning outcomes for our rangatahi. GCSN - thank you.

This all leads me to repeat my words from last year: To the originators and principle drivers of Manaiakalani itself - Mr Pat Sneddon, Mrs Dorothy Burt, and Mr Russell Burt. Your work that has gone before us has truly created a hook for heaven, a force for educational change and improvement that addresses the issue not only of equity, but as you often remind us, of liberation for our learners in New Zealand in a powerful and compelling way. If I may take your words, Manaiakalani does more than remove barriers to our learners watching the game, it places our learners squarely on the playing field of their learning. Again, as I said last year, you are trailblazers in what at times can feel like a bleak landscape. Keep your lanterns lit, keep your voices strong, keep that spring in your step. Tamariki across New Zealand need you.

To my fellow Principals and teaching colleagues across our cluster, thank you for the amazing work you do. The ways in which you enable work across our cluster, the ways in which you practise and model collaboration, are a powerful force for our tamariki, and by doing so you create a rich educational landscape in which our tamariki can thrive and prosper.

To my wonderful colleagues at Hornby High School, regardless of whether you are teaching or non teaching staff, you all do a wonderful job. Teaching staff cause the learning, but that is not possible without all of the many support functions that sit alongside them: grounds and maintenance, security, administration and accounts, community and pastoral support, all completed by wonderful people. Thank you.

I would again like to acknowledge and thank the trustees of our Uru Mānuka Educational Trust: Mr Garry Moore, Chair, Mrs Janine Morrell-Gunn, Mrs Rose Crossland, Mr Jason Marsden, Mrs Daisy Laveo-Timo and Mrs Jane Ross.  You have all seen the potential for change that is Manaiakalani, and have freely and willingly given of your time to make the world a better place. Yet again Mr Gary Roberts, Principal of Hornby Primary School, is deserving of special mention for the drive and passion that he has brought to the pursuit of this amazing educational vision. Thank you. Thank you for your energy, your passion, your commitment, and your support.

To our many supporting organisations, thank you. As always, a special mention of the Hub, The Hornby Rotary Club, and Hornby Working Men’s Club as long term supporters of our wonderful tamariki. Actions speak louder than words. By your actions you demonstrate your understanding of the desirability of investing in your local community and our collective futures by supporting our tamariki. Please be assured that you do make a positive difference.
Thank you to our many supporters:

CERT Trust
Mainland Foundation
CSG Konica Minolta Limited
ISS Facilities Services
Westpac Trust - Hornby Branch
GCSN - the Greater Christchurch Schools Network
Orica Chemicals
Hornby Residents Association

Finally, to our prize winners, well done. Tonight we acknowledge and celebrate your attitude, your persistence and your achievement. The prizes we award acknowledge only one part of the wonderful achievement represented here tonight, and throughout the school.

To our 2018 Prefects, thank you for your leadership and your commitment to the school, and to all of our leavers - please know that you take with you our best wishes, and the knowledge that at Hornby High School you have your turangawaewae, your place to stand. You are an outstanding group of young men and women. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.

Noreira tena koutou tena koutou tena koutou katoa

Saturday, 3 November 2018

Collaboration ousts competition

Last week I was privileged to attend the annual Manaiakalani wananga, hosted by the Manaiakalani Education Trust. Representatives from every Manaiakalani cluster in the country are invited, and this year our Uru Mānuka cluster had not only our seven principals, but also other senior leaders, and leaders of learning, from our seven schools.

These wanaga begin with some inspiration, and some update, on the progress of MK across the country, and then include some fantastic examples of progress that has been shown to accelerate learning at different schools across the country. These 'slams' are always informative, the presenters humble. One of the many foundations for the success of Manaiakalani is the identification of what works using robust data, and the sharing of this with other participating schools.

This sharing represents the best in collaboration. No school keeps good practice a secret, good ideas are freely shared. This is refreshing as we (hopefully) emerge from an era of competition. The market model has failed children in their tens of thousands. In particular the market model has failed children who are not European, and who are not from middle and high income households. The result is that we have one of the longest tails of 'under achievement' in the OECD, a tail dominated by our Māori and Pasifika children. We ought to be ashamed that we have allowed this to happen, and I look despairingly at the political right that still thinks that competition amongst schools is an ideal to which we should aspire. Our children are NOT economic units to be consigned to this pile or that based upon standardised testing.

On the day following the wananga all of the members of the Uru Mānuka cluster who had attended stayed on for the day and sat together planning cluster goals, focii, and events, for 2019.
As we worked, I stepped aside and took this photo. I know that what I was seeing was the best in collaboration. One of the things that makes this 'the best' is something that is missing from this photo. What is NOT at the table here as we worked? What are you not seeing?

It's very simple: there is no 'ego'. Every individual 'at the table' was focussed on what we need to do next to improve learning outcomes for our children, and to improve the lives of our children and whānau. There was in 'I' in the conversation. There was plenty of 'we'. NO-ONE said 'my school' at any stage. Everyone was focussed on the children in the cluster.

This level of care and concern doesn't happen in an environment riddled with competition. Our children can only flourish in a climate of collaboration.

Manaiakalani not only supports the 'liberation' of our children as learners by magnifying a common pedagogy using digital devices, it also liberates our children as learners by ensuring that choices are made, resources allocated, in  the best interests of the children, not in the best interests of the school, or its Principal. Manaiakalani is a collaborative, a culturally responsive, approach to liberating ALL children as learners, to allow those children to reach their potential.

There was no ego there. Collaboration will oust competition. EVERY TIME!!!!