As you would expect of a new school, all of our attention and effort for our first term was directed totally on our learners. The induction of our first cohort, establishing a safe and inclusive learning environment and developing a sense of identity and culture were our top priorities.
Our focus was on establishing appropriate relationships and a readiness to learn amongst all members of our community. It was an exhausting and exciting term culminating in our Exhibition night.
In the brief lull between the end of Term 1 and the commencement of Term 2 there exists an opportunity to reflect and to assess our progress thus far against our vision. As educators we have to constantly reflect on what has just happened and what we need to try to make happen next.
I was forwarded the infographic below [from the Global Digital Citizen Foundation] about a week ago and found it a useful starting point for this process of reflection and planning. As I read through these 28 skills I could easily match them with numerous learning experiences that have taken place at Rolleston College so far this year. The more I read the more my sense of satisfaction increased.
I could reflect back on our Hauora programme and see how that developed aspects like social and emotional skills, self awareness, life management and relationship skills.
I could think of the learners who ran small business ventures like customising play station hand sets, manufacturing and selling candles, cakes, Rawena bread and slime and easily see how they developed their innovative and entrepreneurial skills as well as their project management skills.
The development of e- portfolios definitely ticks off the digital citizenship aspect and the need to be reflective.
The individual Quest projects, which learners have identified as the most enjoyable aspect of their learning so far [according to an article produced by one of our Journalism learners] demands self direction.
The robotics class requires perseverance and a sense of logical reasoning. The learning of the Taumutu waiata is an example of cross cultural learning. The large numbers of learners who have participated in the celebration assemblies has provided the opportunity to enhance their communication skills.
The very physical design of our school means that our learners are nimble. I could go on, I could go through all 28 skills and tick them off against our first term’s learning experiences, I could feel smug and self satisfied.
But that would be wrong and delusional.
Instead I found myself asking three questions;
- So what?
Matching the experiences our learners have had with a list of desirable skills is satisfying but what does it mean? Have they learnt what they need to? Have they understood it? Are they now driven to want to know more, to take greater risks? Have they gained genuine self awareness or at least the beginnings of an awareness.
2. Has everyone benefited?
Being able to list examples of these skills does not mean that all of our learners have been subject to the same experiences. Are we making sure that we are not basking in the reflective glory of the achievers and losing sight of those that need extra support? Are we as inclusive as we want to be or can be? Are we making a reality of our desire that every learner can stand and succeed as the individual they are?
3. What next?
Whether we have been successful so far or not is not as important as dreaming of how much better we can be.
Of course I don’t have the answers to these questions yet but the following two infographics [from the World Economic Forum] are certainly a good reference point to start identifying a process for ‘where next?’
I really like the first one below. The Competencies and Character Qualities are very similar to the 28 Skills above and relate to our Rolleston Spirit Values but it is the Foundational Literacies column that I find the most inspirational right now. Again I could find a symmetry between Literacy and Rolleston Reads, ICT Literacy and our use of Technologies etc. but I prefer to see something else here.
What we have to ensure is that we continue to develop the core skills so that our learners can enhance their development in the other two areas [Competencies and Character Qualities]. I am not saying that we are remiss here but what is vital is seeing the connection between the three ‘worlds.’ We need to ensure our learners are developing their key literacies so that they can go ‘deeper,’ so that they can pursue their passions and take them to a new level, so that they can set their personal bar higher and feel confident that they have the literacies to enable them to push the boundaries of their personal learning. Part of the ‘where next’ is to push the acquisition of relevant and appropriate core literacies to empower our learners to face and overcome increasingly complex tasks and situations.
If that is the next goal. If having created a culture that values the individual then we now have to challenge that individual to take learning risks. The obvious question then is ‘how?’
The second infographic, again from the World Economic Forum, provides some guidance here. Once again I can see much of what we do reflected here. The Kiwiana games that culminated a section of learning in Connected certainly incorporated play based learning. The Initiative quality neatly sums up the intention of Quest projects and so on.
If we make sure that our learning of core literacies takes place within the guidelines contained in the central circle then we will ensure that these skills are transferred to the development of qualities and competencies.
We need to see the interconnection between literacies, qualities and competencies and be aware that the focus in the core literacies is there to allow the growth of an individuals confidence, competence and understanding so that they can continue to grow their grit, leadership awareness etc.
To sum up we have to continue to develop a learning environment within which everyone wants to learn, feels supported in their learning and is recieving the learning they need to make the progress they are capable of.
Finally I draw attention to the link below. It is a recently published article capturing the planning process we went through last year in preparation of becoming a ‘real’ school.