Saturday, 1 September 2018

Modern Learners

I was lucky enough to be involved in a couple of workshops taken by Bruce and Will from Modern Learners with our kaiako at Haeata. This was an opportunity for us to talk about what we are doing at Haeata and for us to pick their brains. These are some of my notes from the 2 sessions. I have left a lot of the discussions in around change for staff and students as many schools are going through this at the moment and it may be helpful for them to get an understanding of how and why some struggle with change. Because we are a new school there is also conversation around the time it takes to set this up and how we can keep moving forward and tell others about what we are doing.
Exciting times.

Moving staff mindsets
Why do some staff struggle with change? Why do you think they are like that?
We have challenged what teaching looks like
Most are really excited - doing what we talked about
About loss - personal adult loss - for spaces and for routine
Answer to focus on communal beliefs and values, not practices
Need a shared sense of mission
What are you trying to get to  - how does everyone own and live that?

What is the measure of success?
Succcess to be shared with triangle of school, students, whanau
Shared outcomes they are pulling towards. Individual success can be unique.
What is success when they leave us - our dispositions
Confident, can navigate though life
Empowered in your own learning at any level
Easier to move teachers if they are clear in the sense of what you are achieving. People create own definition

Power of everyone sharing the mission - dispositions
Mission - when they leave you, what are you aspiring to
Vision is what happens every day that moves students to outcome
Example from the US:
Mission - all students go to college
Vision to prepare all students for college - not ours, but is a vision

Easier for staff to move through . If incoherence then can create anxiety
Shared belief system around what learning is and what kids are capable of

Context - how do we describe the students. Taking them back to go forward. What do you believe in
Why are we doing this and how we are going to get there.
Draw your students - what are their hopes, dreams, fears. What do they experience?
The way we interact - we probably have a clear sense of what happens in their lives.
Take a day and follow a child around in a normal school - our school is different. We are learning in the same environment as they are.

Even teachers who are scared and anxious - they all say eventually learning has to be relevant and what kids are passionate about.

Families in our community saying the norm is the structured way.
Schools need to communicate with community. Need strong lines of communication
Got to take parents with you. Parents don't know any better. They want to be reassured thir child will get the best.

Huge opportunity for performance and exhibition to community.
Have parents come in and see what we are doing. How to do a rolling exhibition. Finished for now attitude - talking about where we are in the process and what learning is still to come.
Setting expectations. Are they expecting to see a finished project? Got to be exceeding expectations.
Broader community invited in to see exhibitions. Exhibit in the city as well

Get our site out there - promote it.  Get links to student work on YouTube/ events
Need stories about what learning looks like.

Being out in the community at sport - explaining how we work
Parents want them to be good people, be confident etc - our dispositions
Learn best when passionate, have fun, do something that matters
Parents ask what you are doing? Ask them what/how the child learns, then say that's what we are doing.

Being happy and get stuff done - are not mutually exclusive.
What if schools were place where...... Kids could...
Then list - so if we want that then we need teachers who are like.... Leaders who are... Parents who are... Risk takers, learner, supporter.
ID what you want. ID what you have. Work the gaps.

Too many people are not intentional enough.
Specific things we can do.
Takes time
Moving molecules.
Biggest challenge to help people re-examine their assumptions about school
Third voice - not parents or teachers. What are industry leaders saying. By our community. Significant employers - vast majority are not looking for kids who can identify a simile.

LarryMarshall - STEM week came out and said he wanted kids who were learners, not coders
NZsite - wanting people who are self-disciplined, self directed,
The Valve handbook. Culture of working
What should I work on when I come to Valve - no-one looking over your shoulder.
Not just teachers saying this.
Get those on the NZ site to come in and talk to students and community

Communities of learning - like what they seek to do.
Get excited when Ivy league schools band together to make change. But we still feel alone in our kura
Some NZ schools looking at getting a bigger voice - should be one voice, will do in own ways, but trying to get a better collective NZ voice.

Emerging, aspiring, or people who lead from the middle in their leadership - this is where change leaders they started came from. Involved in a lot of drive by/one night stand stuff. Want to have it long term and sustainable - that's where Modern Learners came from - can share honestly and openly share feelings and mistakes. As time goes on. Gather strength by connecting - hasn't been sustainable in past because of pushback and it overwhelms. Space created by these two to share.

John Clements in Massachusetts principal of the year last year.  - open to a wide audience - follow him
Everyone outside of this room does not identify how you take arrows. Need other people to support and have a safe place to come together ad get therapy. Coaching sessions in change school just therapy. Place where you can say I'm struggling. It literally is that someone else has experienced it.

People are really interested and hungry for what we are doing. 
Schools flit in and out having a look at what we do.  Schools in Mumbai and Bombay - 2 days - every staff member gives presentation of their work. Other schools come in, but also internationally. Exhibition and presentation from staff- time to reflect.
Opportunity and challenge connecting online. Reach out globally. Challenge is time. Difficult to sustain the connversations. Face to face has power.
Opportunities to continue the conversation - how do you stay connected.

Zoom - video conferencing tool. See them online on a consistent basis.

Local and global community - how do you sustain the communication.
We need to realise that what we are doing here is rather extraordinary - what we are doing here is amazing.
Learning partnerships - tertiary providers - have to jump through hoops. Want to be out in our communities
Taking student teachers - most powerful thing we can do
Biggest barrier - aren't the companies or school, it's about some to organise and schedule. Have a look at Big Picture schools 
Students - wee put them into our schedule. Logistics? Attendance? We are taking away structure - how much can you take away and be successful. You really don't need lunch. Shift learners?
Schools only open 30% of the time - shuts down at 4 and weekends. Try to change that. 

Play - how students engage in learning through play and socio emotional.
Honours students when you have spaces llike this. Meeting students where they are.
Most schools want students to turn up and be what they want them to be. Haeata says turn up and be who you are.
The courage we have in taking the journey is awesome.

Where does te reo fit in - second language - being responsive to their culture.
Worked in duo lingual - Quebec - French and English, cultural consideration but not like Māori
In Aussie only isolated examples - they are looking to NZ more.
Calexico - Mexico/California - 300 mexican kids go to US school, they rent their address there for $100 month Local address - don't speak English when they arrive. Lots of places more a mix of cultures

Thoughts about explaining ourselves to our community?
To not give up. Keep going back to our critics and thank them for their thoughts, celebrating our successes.
2 groups - happy cos kids are happy, other group compare to other peoples kids.
Good to get ahead of new changes.
When you give kids a laptop - parents say they need handwriting and can't spell. Always go out early - how does a spell checker work. If poor speller it can help you to be a better speller. Allows reluctant spellers to be more keen to spell. Hard to anticipate.
Idea of reading age. Ministry says they will do better in life if they can read... Look at supporting evidence, not just research, but 3rd voice - industry, respected people.
Numeracy - everyone gets carried away. Want them to count change - don't do that any more. What does numeracy mean?
Poor or wrong assumptions about their own schooling.
Expect it and predict ahead of time.
Self directed - jump ahead. These kids are going to be in a working environment where no one tells them what to do - making decisions is the best life skill we can give them

Never been in a school that does too much community communication.
Sessions around that and how it looks different. Not about convincing them. More subtle. Building capacity. Helping people understand why change is required and why it's urgent.
How you change the script in people's heads. Most schools don't have to worry about it.
Slow drip - has to be consistent.
Most Likely to Succeed - showed it, and why don't they understand, it's ongoing
Inform and help educate, build ability for them to understand.
Playbased starting to get more mainstream. Weekly communication to parents about what they were doing. Parents were uneasy, every week they had a sentence about the students digitally.
What's the most effective way to convey this is a phenomenal way to educate kids.
Reggio - taking community along
Tension between urgency and patience. It takes years

Common language and understanding aorund what change is. Many definitions on what change is.
BethHolland podcast - dissertation and change and what got in the way. Lack of common language.
Learning - how do we define it?
What do you mean by play?
Is there one definition? At the end of the day it's about the vision. The picture has to be shared by people for change to happen and be sustainable.

Here - intense pressure to come back to more traditional school. Pressure by the system. The system will treat change with auto immune response. Will try to neuter it. Pressure to come back to they way it should be in their eyes. To fight that everyone has to be clear.
Incoherence is where the autoimmune response can take hold. Need to be on the same waka.
Open education in the 1970s - built around progressive ideas, knocking down school walls but continuing same practice - fell down through lack of common language.
Give computers and everything will change - but need to change pedagogy.
Tools for building shared language:
Language itself - conversation

What is learning - what do you believe about what kids are learning?
Amazing potential of children
World as it is today - what do you believe

Whitepaper - 10 principles of the schools for modern learners - going to add 5 questions for each of those things.
Make time for what you think is important.
Don't do stuff that isn't as important

Most of the conversations in most schools are about the architecture and organisational stuff
What is expected of them, the kids and the community.
Time commitment to whats important.

Conversations with kids, parents, community members, other staff .
Students can offer insight 
They asked students what they wanted to changed. Listen to what they would change.
Some of the older students want that security. If successful in the old ways would want to stay that way.
Ask about schooling, ask about learning and passions

People believe you can't have self directed learning when young, others believe you can't when they are old.
System wants 5/6 yr olds to be "schooled"
All about teachers saying we have the power and autonomy and you'll do fine.

Rationale of conformity and doing what you were told was common sense for factories - world changing now
Russell Ackoff - if he gave a TED talk this would be what he would say. Keep doing the wrong thing right. Shouldn't be trying to improve this system we have, need to change.
Computerisation of national testing in Aussie - rather than looking at the system, they computerised it. Went no where. Doing the wrong thing right

When parent ask to describe Play based Learning, what do you say?
It's messy and looks chaotic. Children are biologically design to learn. Self directed, able to use dramatic play, how to focus and go for a long period of time. With the help of adults they can help to add in and take out things at that time so they are learning the next steps.
Rehearse something into a really sharp tight script.
Can we answer what they are doing in 3/4 sentences so they hear it the same from all teachers?
We are engaged in marketing.
What does this word mean for that adult in this context. Explain learning to someone who lives in a different context. Need to rehearse it.

Learning is a natural thing we all share. Can always make connections with others.
Even though we know learning happens through play, but need to connect play to learning at school, it's different
Tinkering, inventing, creating, problemsolving, innovating.

All struggle with communication for parents. Ground your explanation in something they can relate to. Them as learners.
Exhibit what kids create through play so they can see. While you say play, they are looking at the work. Narrative assessment.
They are good at Exhibition. Public exhibitions. This is my learning, this is my journey
Learning narratives though video/audio more than narrative. 
Issue - access at school. Online or hard copy.

Revitalisation of learning for our students in poverty. School has stopped them from engaging - old school system.

Transitions - be careful at the rate you make the change. From structured change - could be random, month to month - why are you allowing the transitions to happen. About their learning.

Of the work we are doing - which part has the most impact on them. Which part do they find the most enjoyable.
A: being in the moment with them, not stepping them through. Enjoying the context they have chosen and teaching you something. Triggers them and sometimes you.
Why are you doing this?  The opportunities to be exposed to do things they couldn't do before
Learning from each other. Someone's pure joy pulls others in

Connecting through common passion and interest. 1:1 conference and listening.  Listening and take it in - don't step on toes when in creative mode

Working with others, with diverse other, collaboration. Didn't really happen in other schools. Negotiating all the time here at Haeata.
Ability to negotiate
Self direction

Bad press last year was quite galvanising - brought us together, and students as well.
Exposure and experience over more set activities. More mentor role than teacher role. Do we teach or do we allow?

Update: Modern Learners have this video discussion about their trip to Haeata. Have a listen.

1 comment:

  1. Love the last sentence- do we teach or do we allow?