In 2018, lead by then Deputy Principal Mr Jon Rogers, our teachers (from across the curriculum areas) worked hard to re-imagine what that technology experience might look like. They took themselves a long way outside their comfort zones, they took risks that they had possibly never considered taking before (my surmise, not their statement). The end result is currently one in which students begin their time with us by undertaking a small dose of 'Connect class' in which they work with a specialist teacher in the sciences, the arts, or the digital technologies, on work that is designed to complement the main technology activity that they will undertake. They do this while working amongst our own Hornby High School students (from across a range of age groups) who are engaged in their own explorations of the sciences, the arts, technologies, or foods, in the same spaces.
Amongst other things, children have been undertaking 'Connect' activities as diverse as experimenting with the colour wheel, and learning some simply coding with Spheros.
Early observations are encouraging and exciting. Here are some of the things we have seen.
A younger Year 7 student from a client school pushing the behavioural boundaries, and a senior Hornby student calmly and positively walking over and saying 'We don't behave like that here.'
A Year 8 student in an Art Connect class struggling with a small piece of work, and again a senior student reaching across and offering some advice and a helping hand.
These things are absolute gold, they are things you could never plan for, they are 'tuakana teina'.
Despite the relative openness of the spaces, there is a calmness and a quietness about proceedings. Noise levels are relatively low, and the work focus is high, despite the fact that there is often a lot of 'hands-on' work going on. This speaks highly to the skill of the architectural designers, and to the rangatahi working within the spaces.
This also says a lot about the professionalism of our amazing staff, and about the culture amongst our students. I have said to the staff that what we are doing here is all new, no-one has done this before. When planning it we often didn't even know what questions to ask, let alone what the answers would be.
Staff have captured our 'Learn Create Share' pedagogy in their own work. Activating prior knowledge, and coming up with new and innovative approaches to how we cause learning, are very clear to me. We share the thinking and the progress in many ways, this blog is just one of them.
The Manaiakalani pedagogy not only needs to permeate all areas of student learning. Student learning is strengthened when it permeates our own professional thinking as educators. I believe this makes the learning deeper, the engagement stronger. I believe that if we have the pedagogy more deeply embedded in every aspect of our work we are more likely to develop the types of engaging curriculum that our learners need.
This really is all about 'liberation' for our learners, and also maybe about liberation for our staff as well.