Schools work together to support future-focused learning

Issue: Volume 97, Number 11

Posted: 21 June 2018
Reference #: 1H9jKV

For the first time, seven South Auckland schools and staff have combined their knowledge and resources to hold an all-staff conference on innovation, future-focused education, and supporting student transition between schools.

A Future Education conference held earlier this month at Ormiston Junior College in Manukau and attended by 350 staff from seven schools aimed to build collaborations, share expertise, and show the community that there’s an effective and progressive education pathway for students.

Sessions run by teachers ranged from connecting with culturally diverse learners and utilising modern learning environments to using robotics in learning, building 21st century skills and play-based learning.

Mission Heights Junior College Principal Ian Morrison says the schools have been on a 14-year journey since the Flatbush Strategy 2007 proposed the establishment of a network of schools to support new housing developments in Manukau.

“The spirit of collaboration has been in existence for some time, with former Baverstock Oaks School Principal Mary Wilson as the catalyst.

“The landscape is changing so quickly that we all need to collaborate more and more to stay relevant.”

The principals agree that the real value of the day is establishing connections between teachers to support students on their learning pathway.

Feedback from the schools

Baverstock Oaks School Principal Genée Crowley says the connections made at the conference will be invaluable to her community.

“The great thing about having that expertise is that you know who to go to. Ultimately it’s about the children. From a primary school perspective, if we know what’s happening in the junior college, it makes us think what’s going on and what is that student going to need as they go on.” 

Mel Bland, first-time Principal of Te Uho o te Nikau Primary School, which will open in 2019, says, “I feel very lucky – I’m a first-time principal coming into this community – it’s pretty amazing. When I’ve talked to other beginning principals, they are not having experiences like this.” 

Mission Heights Junior College ESOL and English teacher Joan Clansey co-led a roundtable discussion about ESOL, and said she has not experienced such a collaborative event during her 30-year teaching career.

“It was great actually to have a whole day where you could go and connect with teachers from all the schools in our area. 

“You never get that chance in your normal teaching life to connect with seven schools at once!” 

Mission Heights Primary School Principal Veena Vohra says the schools are leaders in innovative practice they could share.

“…All of us are innovative schools in different ways, we all have personalised learning programmes going on, we all have learning frameworks and guiding principles based on research, and this conference opportunity brought all our philosophies and practices together for our teachers, as there are islands of excellence within each school. And this conference and common teacher only day actually brought it all together.”   

Ormiston Senior College Principal Diana Patience says one of the key themes was that the answer’s in the room. And it was about sharing those answers about what’s best for our children.

“That’s the powerful thing. We don’t have to wheel people in to tell us what to do. We have the expertise. And it’s sharing that knowledge.” 

Ormiston Primary School Principal Heath McNeil says, “We’re used to visitors from around New Zealand and the world, because we’re new and we’re doing things differently, but often it hasn’t been at teacher level particularly. It’s made it easier because you now know the person. You’ve got a relationship with them.”

Ormiston Junior College Principal Luke Sumich says as part of their collaboration, the schools have banded together to support students who have gone through their entire learning journey in the community.

“Each school also contributes towards a scholarship for someone leaving the senior college, someone who has been on our pathway. If you went to one of the primary schools, one of the junior colleges, and the senior college, you’re eligible for that scholarship.” 

Riding the wave of change

How do you prepare students for jobs that don’t exist yet?

It’s a question New Zealand Ambassador for Singularity University and TEDx curator Kaila Colbin helped answer at a Future Education conference held by seven south-Auckland schools recently.

With innovation and automation having the potential to replace the jobs we prepare students for, she says what success looks like will need to change if we are to prepare students for jobs of the future.

“I would suggest the opportunity is to shift our focus even further and prepare our children to be questioning the underlying assumptions that underpin our society.

“So assumptions like we have to have a 40-hour work week, or the idea that if you don’t have a ‘job’ you’re not a productive member of society.

“We need to be thinking about ‘work’ not as the thing you do to get a pay cheque but as the solving of human problems. If we dedicate our resources to addressing challenges like poverty, hunger, climate change etc then I think we’re going to be in a much better shape.”

What does this mean for teachers? Kaila says the World Economic Forum’s 21st century skills map is a good place to start.

“They have foundational skills like literacy and numeracy, but then they have additional skills which we learn in kindy, like curiosity, initiative, grit, teamwork and resilience.

Students will need to be adaptable so they can tackle fast-paced change in technical environments.

“When we’re little, we’re constantly coached on those things, but that active coaching starts to go away in primary school and really goes away in secondary school and by the time we’re at uni it’s really up to us to learn how to navigate our own lives.

“That ability to navigate is actually one of the things that is the most marketable skill going forward. How we manage our own emotional lives, this is the kind of stuff we need for the future.”     

What can you take away from the day?

Did you know games can be used to engage students in learning activities?
Gamification is taking a learning process and applying game principles (e.g. point scoring, competition with others, rules of play) to it. Game-based learning is taking a game and using it for learning. Find out more here: NZCER and elearning TKI.

Ready-to-learn routines can be used by students to calm the brain and create an environment conducive to positive, creative, productive learning. This can help students to perform better at school and improve their engagement levels. Pause Breathe Smile is an example of a routine that can be used.

“Hei awhina i nga purapura o ngā tikanga, hei whakapakari ki a tātou kaiarahi mō apōpō” – “To help sow the seeds of tikanga to strengthen our leaders of tomorrow”.

Strengthen numeracy achievement and NCEA results through the cross-curricular and collaborative teaching and learning approaches. For example, PEH and mathematics collaborative use of the Math AS91036 bivariate data standard.

Using the Teacher Led Innovation Fund (TLIF) to support development of innovative practices that improve learning outcomes especially for students who are Māori, Pacific peoples, have special education needs, or come from low socioeconomic backgrounds.

Reframe how we assess our students. [US educational expert] Art Costa questions: “How do we exist between the current paradigm of assessing the acquisition of content and the needed new paradigm of teaching and assessing dispositions?” (Dispositions Reframing Teaching and Learning). 

BY Education Gazette editors
Education Gazette | Tukutuku Kōrero,

Posted: 1:51 pm, 21 June 2018

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