School Reborn 2020: Part 12 – Time and Visuals

High school graduation and thus college/university admission is under review in New Zealand. Yesterday I attended an event for those looking at ensuring the review culminated in an outcome relevant to the 21st century. One thing the government has highlighted is that New Zealand high school graduation will still be achievable in a non-subject-siloed approach. This is a relief to my school who are trying to adopt new approaches to learning that don’t simply adhere to the divisive ways we have always done things and take into account what the majority of the world is asking for.

Change isn’t hard, it just feels hard.

As the months go by, decisions get made, and conversations continue, the focus for teachers struggling with change shifts. As each piece of the puzzle gets confirmed or understood, the worry turns to the next piece. This is human nature. It is important to note here that as human beings, we are visual creatures. All of the leadership team in our school have been challenged up until the point they can present a picture of what something will look like. This has happened with learning design, reports, room usage, planning, and resources. For people struggling with change, the challenge is to create a picture of the whole new situation. This is difficult when you are still confirming parts of it and people can get impatient. All willing participants are inputting into the shape of things and so it will always be an organic process.

In 2019, change feels hard because most of the people having to implement changes were born and conditioned by the last century. To a person born into 20th century’s fixed hierarchies and pathways to success, the new agile world feels scary and uncertain. But even in these circumstances, people are reassured with every picture, graphic, map, and timetable.

Visual communications

We have a full day of teacher professional development coming up in two weeks where the expectation will be for our 16 integrated learning design teams to finalise the following things they have been working on:

    1. Integrated learning unit summary for teachers
    2. 18 week unit learning plan (Covering what each subject specialist will focus on to integrate their subject into the bigger issue)
    3. Integrated learning unit summary for students (including why, what, and how they will be involved in leading the units)

To this end, we’ve produced agreed examples of the minimum expectations so that teams can shape their current work to a workable template that other staff can work with next year.

Only In Transition

It feels important to me to highlight that as a leader in a school, our aims for next year are merely the first of a number of steppingstones to truly 21st-century relevant learning. Within the integrated units, we will still be reporting on progress in specific sub-areas of traditional subject disciplines (see above). Teachers within these units will only be asked to teach their own specialism. We have added a significant focus on the development of values and dispositions, which will be monitored by learning development mentors (Ako Kaiako/Tutors) allocated 4 hours a week. The aim of the student summary (in blue above) is to outline clear reasons for experiencing such a unit in creating and to display need for the three traditional disciplines and how they are of equal importance and any ‘real’ situation.

Next steps:

  1. Ensure subject specialists are comfortable with the aims of all 6 units their subject is involved in
  2. Timetable, connect and develop the team of Leanring (Ako) Tutors before December
  3. Run a student survey indicating possible uses of “Mai Time” (Interest/passion time)

Here’s a link to the official school page on the changes developed so far: