Kia ora everyone and welcome to 2016.
This year will see us take significant steps forward with regard to the quality of teaching and learning happening within our school.
Our junior hub will function from the hall as a collaborative team and the seniors will be likewise, doing the best they can given the spaces in the senior block. As we continue to learn, a lot can be achieved regardless of the space, I look forward to seeing how this develops.
A trip to Waitakiri school yesterday was the ideal way to kick our year off and get the brains thinking about how these teams might function.
The following were some of the key messages I took from yesterday :
1) Maintain a strong focus on ensuring that we have a high quality teaching and learning programme, collaborative teaching, technology etc... all play a part in this but as with any system, it relies on the people to use the tools in effective ways in order to maximise learning.
2) The notion of private honesty and public unity was discussed, I loved the way that Neill put this. We must have strong trusting relationships within the team, we must feel that we can try new things, make mistakes, voice opinions and that they will be confidential to the team. When talking with parents we are a team, we are united and always speak positively of the rest of our staff. Private honesty and public unity...I like it!
3)The roles of the adults in each collaborative team must be explicit, these roles should be made clear to the students, systems and structures are vital in these environments, they must be visible and clear to everyone. I liked the notion of a "learning coach" and "learning assistant". Student learning coaches where possible is also a fantastic way to promote leadership and utilise the skills of the students. Peer teaching has be found to have huge impact on student learning. Done well it can up to 5 months of value over the course of the year *http://australia.teachingandlearningtoolkit.net.au/toolkit/
I loved the way Neill presented, it was easy to follow and entertaining. He asked some great questions e.g. Does co- teaching work? Does teaching work? The answer....yes and no. Again emphasising that the people and the way in which the environment is set up must "cause learning" if not, we are wasting our time.
So what are some of the aspects for us to mull over here @ Gilberthorpe...
1) Co-teaching strategies, Neill shared 5 that they are using. All teaching staff have the book the co-teaching book of lists which provides a detailed explanation of several strategies and how they function. I think we need to look at how to trial these. Do we use one over 5 weeks or a term, allow everyone to experiment with it and monitor its effectiveness?
2) Ensuring our priority learners are at the forefront in these environments, they should received significantly more instruction and support in this environment. We have already begun work on using google slides to show that we "know our learner", I look forward to seeing this develop.
3) I'd like to begin hosting a regular afternoon tea, a chance to chat with whanau about what we are trying to achieve, why we are using these environments as well as other topics that are relevant throughout the year. I will welcome parent feedback into what these might cover.
4) The staff have already done a lot of work on setting up groups for the year, using prior knowledge so that we can begin teaching and learning from day one. Part of this process will be the use of anecdotal notes, looking at the content of these will be important as they may be able to be directly transferred to reports....
But most importantly, let's give things a go, try things out, evaluate their effectiveness, make mistakes and use each other to create the most high quality teaching and learning environment possible!