Gilberthorpe school

Gilberthorpe school

Tuesday, 24 June 2014

@Waimairi with Mike and Carol...

Well, what a great visit to Waimairi this morning for half of our staff.

Waimairi have been developing there beliefs, values, MLE's and teaching practice for 6 years now and are approaching things in a very methodical manner.

The biggest emphasis today was placed on the WHY?

Why are we creating new environments?
Why are we changing the way we think about teaching?
Why are we using MLE's and MLP?

This lead me to begin thinking about ensuring that as a staff we have an understanding as to why this is happening and what it looks like within our school community?

Once we have a shared understanding of this, it will be more meaningful in our practice.

It was also highlighted that @ Waimairi, what we saw today is part of a 6 year process!!!  We have master planning happening at the beginning of next year!

We must not panic about this, begin to trial things and when the time comes to design spaces, ensure that these are flexible enough to adapt as our thinking adapts.  I was impressed with how at Waimairi they have developed flexible learning spaces from very basic buildings but the teaching and learning that is happening is the real strength.  The high levels of engagement and student ownership was fantastic.

A big thanks to Mike, Carol and their team for hosting us and being so open about their journey so far...I am very excited about beginning ours!

Below are a few photos from today.

I love the third photo- this is a girl teaching herself to draw a cartoon by watching a you tube clip!


  1. Hooray, there's already a post here - thanks for being so speedy with this, Andrew, and thanks for arranging the visit today.

    Two more thoughts from today :)
    I like what you've said about ensuring we keep the spaces we develop flexible enough to cope as we continue to adapt/evolve our practice. Driving home today, I was thinking about how the building is really just the resource we use to 'facilitate' rather than 'define' the learning process. It's a subtle shift in my thinking, but it feels significant. I really love the explicit "design/prototyping" phase that Waimairi is in, and I'm thinking our building resource will need to adapt to our own ongoing teaching/learning design phase that will extend after the build is completed. I like that the building is no longer the destination (although it's certainly a significant, fast-approaching milestone on the journey).

    I was challenged by the application process the teachers take part in, submitting their proposal as to WHY they want to work collaboratively before they begin, and how much more important it is compared to the shaped of their tables or the layout of their rooms. We are fortunate in a lot of ways because there is an expectation we will all be working collaboratively, and I'm pleased to be part of that. Today I started thinking about what I would say if I was asked to justify "Why?" - beyond the quick "because we're being rebuilt" answer. The answer to that question started to become clearer today, and I'll continue to refine my response as we move forward. I can't wait for everyone else to visit Waimairi too.

    I was also impressed by the ongoing analysis they are doing about their effectiveness as a school, and the way it helps them to guide their craft as educators. Among so many other things they mentioned today (checking student data 4-weekly, reflective 4-minute walk-throughs etc) the Educational Positioning System (EPS) looked like a great tool for reflecting on their ongoing progress as a school, and the visual representation was great - kind a "circular pie graph" to see which 'wedges' were developing well in the school and which were needing some attention. We had our progress expressed like this at the end of each teaching practice at Grad School, and it was extremely helpful. Could something like this be useful for checking in on the big picture of our journey as a school, and help us continue to be strategic as we move forward?

    Sorry... that turned into three thoughts...

    1. Good grief... I promise I'll write less next time.

  2. I came across your blog via a Twitter link. Thanks for sharing your reflections as you go.

    I have taken the liberty of adding this blog to my shared MLP bookmarks that may be of interest to you also.

  3. Thanks for the link Allanah, definitely something for us all to read.

    Andrew, I am inspried to come along on the next school visit here with the next lot of staff. On speaking to some of the staff that have been, they are all enthusiastic and have each taken a little bit back from the trip to try and implement in their own classes. I am looking forward to watching and being a part of the progression.

    1. It would be great for as many board members to visit as possible. Great to have photos here too as it gives people who can't visit, an idea of things anyway. Looking forward to visiting some schools and their learning spaces.

  4. That's a great idea Penny. Waimairi was a real inspiration as you learnt when we discussed it with Lorraine from the Ministry later that day. It's probably really important that we will be refreshing and growing with all these ideas as we try many of them out and seeing what will work the best for us.

  5. So inspiring.
    So many thoughts going through my head even a week after the visit.
    Making sure we know the "Why" and this being the basis for what we do makes so much sense. Ensuring we have spaces that complement how we are teaching rather than teaching because of our given spaces is obvious yet vital.
    The best part for me was that the way they have provided opportunities and 'experimented' with change. Small steps, practical ideas and solutions... and even better strategies and programmes that I can actually start to try implementing now!!