Gilberthorpe school

Gilberthorpe school

Thursday, 28 January 2016

Welcome to 2016- A visit to Waitakiri

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 *

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!


  1. I agree, this was a worthwhile experience for us all. I feel like Neil made me more comfortable with the ideas I already had for these co-operative spaces.
    The Senior team had already began to discuss the importance of open communication and how it was important that we were seen as on the same team. Hearing the way it was discussed, private honesty and public unity was fantastic.
    This workshop also made me feel a lot more comfortable about the Senior Hub being able to dip our toes before diving in. I was feeling like a lot of places were all or nothing.
    I really loved the way Neil spoke about the importance of good teachers - that it takes 3 good teachers in a row to make significant difference for a learner. This makes a lot of sense.
    One of the main benefits I can see for the future is the ability for the students to always be 'on' - they don't have to get to know a teacher each year (wasting 5/6weeks), they don't have to worry that one person may not get along with them, they are given the best possible opportunities to develop what they are interested in (3 teachers offer more choice, ways to do things and opportunities).
    I am really excited for week 5 to get here so that the senior hub routines can really start to take place!

    1. I tautoko that completely. The direction we are heading is exciting and sure to grow.

  2. I thoroughly enjoyed our visit to Waitakari School. All the information given in the presentation was relevant to our current situation at Gilberthorpe School with all the new and exciting collaborative spaces beginning.
    It was nice to hear that we are on the right track, having dipped our toes into collaborative teaching last year and the Junior hub beginning this year in full swing.
    I really enjoyed hearing the teachers also speak and share their learning experiences and what has worked for them in their learning spaces.
    I am really excited about the year ahead and trying different collaborative teaching strategies and working together as a strong team in the junior hub.

    1. I also like how all we are doing has this synergy to it. The start to the year in the junior hub has been positive and I am looking forward to seeing how it progresses and expands.

  3. This was the second time of hearing Neill present his findings, research and experiences with teaching and learning in collaborative settings. Both times were incredibly informative, enjoyable and thought provoking.

    Neill is easy to listen to and paces his presentations in a way that keep you engaged and enthused. His research and findings have been thoroughly explored and he really does know what he's talking about. The staff and how they are functioning as a team are testament to this as they are walking the talk.

    Key messages that resonated with me were around ensuring that we are focussed on the pedagogy and quality of our teaching, the personal and public relationships, the need to try things and move along at a pace that ensures you are aiming for quality and the need for teacher learning and development throughout the process. The S8 to Collaborate chart highlighted the need to be a whole school journey. Being student centred is paramount to all that we do.

    The power of teacher collaboration is well documented and has a range of positive outcomes for all involved. Again the message here was to focus on the learner and about having effective teaching practices. When done well, the benefits for the students are evident and students achievement and success rises. Two heads are better than one.

    The next steps in this journey for me is to continue to work in the way we have started with co teachers in the senior part of the school and to continue,clarify and consolidate learning of our team by reading the books Neill referred to which are Innovative Learning Environments and The Nature of Learning. I want to look at and trial different co teaching strategies within our team and ensure that we are all competent an confident when choosing when and how to implement these.

    I think we can all be very enthusiastic and confident in how we are moving forward as a school. As we move in this direction, we can confidently say that our school vision will be our reality...
    On the pathway for success, growing confident, collaborative, lifelong learners in an ever changing world.

  4. 'It's all about the child.'
    'The purpose is complex. It is about equipping people with the skills, knowledge and attitude to enable them to become life long learners.' Margaret Ready .N.Z.E.I .Auckland.
    'The purpose is to make change. If we want to move past the problems we are facing we have to look to education to do that.' Nicole More.
    These words from other teachers resonated with me when we went to hear Neil.
    It was good to see a passionate, enthusiastic person such as Neil.
    He is a person who has gone before us in this new phase of education, that is being implemented. It felt like he was a learning coach or personal trainer and I was learning.
    He was one of those people who makes you ask yourself questions, rather than just giving you the answers.
    As a person who is just dipping his toes in the new educational philosophy for the first time and trying to catch up with what is happening, Neil took me through a black hole at light speed and made me ask myself, 'How do I fit into this phase?'
    What I heard was that Rome wasn't built in a day. If we want to turn the ship around, it will take a whole crew working together.
    He advocated we should try things and then reflect, upon them, then take what is good and celebrate it.
    I heard him say that mistakes will be made as has happened in all phases of education but communication was a front runner of the new phase. Not only communication but active communication and listening to one another.
    Other things I heard were that we should be looking at other areas such as digital technology, which should be used as a tool rather than a replacement of things that already work.
    Unity is a big thing. That doesn't mean we have to agree on all things but as a group we work as a team to get the best job done.
    Our job is to assist the children into the different phase of learning, that doesn't stop when they leave school.
    The thing I felt the most about with what I heard was, it is up to us to sail the ship and set the course.

    1. Unity is a big thing for sure. If we are united in where we are heading, the communication and support for us all at whatever stage we are at, will flow. Of course we do need to be deliberate at times to check in and maintain those open lines. Our ships will move in different ways and rates but it's good to know we can sail together.


  5. 28/1/2016
    PD: Collaborative Teaching in a Flexible Learning Space @ Waitakiri by Neil

    I really enjoyed this session. It made me think about my practise and how we need to have a change in our growth mindset.
    I personally believe in the co-teaching, as I enjoyed this last year with Rebecca and saw the real benefits in student learning and my own personal learning.
    The strategies: I could understand as they related to the book I have read “Co-teaching…..”
    It was powerful hearing from the teachers - especially one who was really apprehensive at the beginning and now would never go back to single cell teaching as the benefits for the children's learning and their own is so much more.
    With our own Gilberthorpe journey I feel we are on the right track as we have developed smart systems, structures, shared beliefs and understandings.
    I feel the key to making it successful is:
    making it student centred and learning focussed
    Having Clear COMMUNICATION
    not having a rover but a Learning Coach and defining their role...will they target specific children?
    It has given me lots to think about and ponder over.

    1. I also like hearing from experienced teachers who have been in the single cell classroom from for many years and are now in collaborative teams and loving it. I think this enthusiasm improves and our own teaching gets better as we are able to watch and learn from colleagues. It's refreshing and exciting.