The title for this blog post originally came to me in the first week in my new role and was originally ‘Induction & Transitions’. The reason for that title was because it was the process I was going though at the time and procedure I needed to develop for new akonga coming into a new kura in 2017. A key task in my role includes transitioning new students into school and by being inducted into a new job I figured I was well placed to reflect & consider what needs to be in place for new learners, which of course we all are like it or not!
This blog is my reflections from my first few weeks in a new role including how to settle in after leaving a long term position. There are also some initial thoughts on what is important for akonga when transitioning to high school and how to begin to develop a sense of belonging.
1.The gift of time
I began this new role with two other team members and as part of the induction process, as well as usual procedural information & team building , we were given the gift of time. This something that teachers are always wanting more of, whether it is more time to teach something, more time for planning and marking or more time to take part in professional learning, there is never enough. One of the first obstacles to teaching that Grant Lichtman discusses in ‘#Edjourney: A Roadmap to the Future of Education’, from his research he claims that this is the number one thing that teachers want more of and one of the most precious resources. Interestingly with the gift of time at my disposal it was hard to adjust from the typical busy school day of interruptions to having the time and space to read and reflect
Who new I would have to come to grips with planning my day without the constraints of the bell ringing. I now have longer sessions to complete work with time to read, discuss, wonder and wander which has enabled me to go deeper with my thoughts and research widely in many different areas. With this major adjustment I am considering how this change of managing my own time could be difficult for learners coming from a highly structured primary setting where the timetabled classes are punctuated by bells and interruptions to learning due to the pressure on resources, spaces and people. For example going to the school library for 40mins as that is the allocated time for the week for your class. Researching using the pod of available computers for the allocated time that it was booked before the laptops are whisked off to another class who is in need of this valuable resource. Creating and building a project that you have designed in manual technology for that two hour session a week where you get to go to the local ‘technology centre’. “Students put your creativity and building on hold the bus is here, come back to it next week”. So if we give students the gift of time in the form of longer periods to complete their work how will they cope? 100min periods will be the structure of the school day and I wonder how students will manage their time initially when working on creative projects and self directed learning when they are used to getting stuck in before the bell goes.
Teaching persistence and how to overcome learning slumps and resilience will be an important part of the learning dispositions that students will need.
2. Be a sponge
Sit back listen, watch, learn and soak it all up. Having a growth mindset means being open to new areas of learning that may have never crossed your mind. Having the opportunity to see others lead the direction of the professional learning and to begin to understand a new philosophy of how to unwrap learning dispositions and principles of learning for a new context.
Yes we all know ‘one size does not fit all’ but what does the ‘fit’ look like in this learning context? Learning about the community I am in is imperative from my colleagues through to the wider community & also being aware of wider communities views within the region. This means what is do my colleagues (and soon students) expect of me? What does the community expect of the college? Where does this kura fit into the landscape of comparatively conservative education in Christchurch? (Disclaimer! yes massive generalisation here but my thoughts and views only zero research to back up this claim other than what I have observed in the pockets I have been in over the past 10 years).
So to be a sponge your mindset needs to be open to all the possibilities that present themselves. Part of being a sponge also means taking a break to let it all sink in, which is where the gift of time is coming in handy!
What needs to be in place for akonga to be able to be a sponge? A safe place where they belong and can take the time to explore what it means to be part of this new school community. A place where listening and watching is acknowledged and celebrated as much as coming up with creative challenging thoughts and ideas that you share with all immediately. How we set up this to ensure it is safe to share is key to the transition of all new students.
So to wrap up
Day 1: It’s ok not to know the answer
Day 100: It’s still ok not to know the answer but hopefully you feel safe enough try to find the answer under your own steam.
Take your time, be a sponge and help future sponges by welcoming them with a research based, well thought out plan of attack.