Monthly Archives: August 2013

Relationships, Breakdowns and the Power of Advisories…

A very quick blog! I’m impressed that it is less than 7 days since my last, but felt it was necessary to reflect on the emotional experience that was Friday’s book club and the effect my current reading ‘One Kid at a Time’ is having on me. 


I came into this feeling that one of the crucial things needed in order for this to succeed was an emphasis on personalised learning and relationships. This needs to be strong throughout the school, across all curriculum areas (and by that i am not referring to subjects but advisories, modules and projects). This has only been emphasised by the discussions, readings and site visits of other schools. 

For students to become life long learners, find personal and academic success their learning needs to be personalised, their ‘habits’ need to be developed as well as their academic capabilities. The Learning Hubs (advisories) will be essential in helping track and mould that students pathway. Everyone is an individual, their strengths and needs will be different. Their interests, passions and life journey will be different. Learning coaches will need to develop strong relationships, get to know their learner to the core, be a support but also a motivator, warm but demanding. If they do this they will help to foster passionate, contributive life-long learners. 

‘One Kid at a Time’ really lays down this message. What I like the most about it is the stories… Stories of a wide range of kids from different backgrounds, coming in to The Met with different strengths and weaknesses but all being found a path. No one should be left behind. Of course there are cases where it hasn’t worked. But there are miles more where it has. 

When I reflect on these stories the natural reaction is to connect it to your own experiences. For me this is connecting it to my last school. Which I loved. With kids that I loved even more. Leaving was hard but I believe so wholly in what we are doing that it is necessary to make a shift. So these kids don’t feel left behind, unvalidated, unsuccessful. 

I received a text the another night, that one of my favourite ruby teams was in the semi ‘whoop whoop’ lucky I kept my school supporters jacket. That was great, the second part was not. “Oh and I’m leaving school”. I was gutted. Although school isn’t for everyone. Why can’t it be? I had worked hard at exposing this student to new ideas and helping increase confidence in his own ability. It was working, but obviously not enough. The system and people, myself included had failed him. I felt gutted. 

So, Friday morning book club. As people were talking about ‘The Element’ and personal pathways, the lump in my throat emerged. I was keen to share what I had been learning from my book as I’m so into it. However, the minute I opened my mouth, the sobbing began. I couldn’t believe the message had affected me so much. I felt so excited about the possibilities that we will offer our students, but saddened that I felt helpless in the path of one of my previous students still dear to me. 

End of the story, I went to the rugby, they won!! Had a conversation about the course the student will be entering, I’ve heard it’s awesome, run by Michael Jones. Let’s hope it provides for him better than we had. Let’s hope they win in the semi’s next week – I’ll be there. That student will always be one of my students, our job doesn’t finish when we walk out the door and move on to the next place. It’s not just a job, it’s a mindset. I’m just glad I could offer some advise and support. Even just a sounding board.

At the end of the day, I learnt more from my students in the last two years at that school than they would have learned from me in a lifetime. I was privileged to work with them. 


It is easy for people to say we’re in a bubble and that when reality hits things will be a lot different. Yeah they will be, but different and changing is what we’re all about.

It’s not about if we will make it work. It’s about how we will make it work. It’s not a choice but a necessity. 



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Bonding, Circles and Being in the Zone!

Pretty cool week since my last blog (surprise). So much has gone on both activity wise and in my brain. Once again sectioning it out to help the process come along.  As didn’t achieve my goal of blogging more regularly. My brain was tired.


The two site visits to Ormiston and Albany Senior High at the end of last week were pretty choice. At that stage we had spent a good couple of weeks envisioning what our ideas and values would look like in practice and it was a great opportunity to see some of these in the flesh. I was really impressed by  the learning environment and came away with lots of questions. The teams were so open and reflective on their process and the opportunities and challenges that exist in such an environment. Having that opportunity to have such honest conversations with people walking the walk was great! Often schools can be really closed to each other and the  community. This was certainly NOT the case with either Albany or Ormiston. We have so much to gain and learn from each others experiences and it’s a great relationship that has been established early on! I came away impressed with how they have managed to tackle the assessment question but also VERY thankful to say that we don’t have to worry about assessment yet when our new whanau walk in the door early next year! This will give us the luxury of focussing on embedding our Habits and working on personal excellence as well as the academic.



It had been a busy week for Maurie, Lea, Di and Claire. So Monday was an wicked opportunity to come back together and explore. The art trail exploration set up by Lea and the design thinking session organised by Di were fun, challenging and pretty wicked. I even almost completed the trifecta of bus, ferry and train all in one day… almost.

Our competitive sides came out in the Waterfront Discovery art trail challenge! My knack for expression through body form and the teams creativity meant we were the clear winners (despite the disagreement of the other team). Our beautiful product is in the link below. However, winnings not important (wink) and it was all about participation on the day?!

The design thinking course at NZTE with  Peter Harrison from Better by Design was pretty challenging, and inspiring!! I came home wanting to take the design approach when approaching every situation within my renovation programme! So simple, fun and helpful! Wicked work by that team!

Finishing the ‘life explanations’ with the team on Wednesday. Was sad as it has been so fun and interesting hearing everyones stories and inspirations. The key to relationships is knowing people and we’re getting comfortable pretty quick which these opportunities to share have helped develop!


Circles & GPILSEO

Using the circle process or ‘our circles’ as some of us have begun to name it (although we probably should make sure we credit Julia) have become a regular appearance in daily life at HPSS. The perfect way to move from the values/beliefs to the principles and practices. Difficult at first but such a necessary way of making sure first of all..

  1. You know why your doing something
  2. How it’s going to look within our school/community
  3. The particular practices we will need to embed to ensure this happens.

Some evidence of those we have done can be seen below. A definite work in progress but such a useful tool!!

IMG_5775 Circles

GPILSEO was introduced to us by Maurie yesterday morning. What a productive session. A great way for us to get back together as a team and nut out what’s important to us and how we make sure our mission is sustained within the school. Also nice to see where all the bits and pieces we have been working away on sit within the puzzle. GPILSEO will now be on my wall (don’t tell Alison) reminding me that without all pieces of the puzzle it’s just an awkward picture that doesn’t feel right.


Being in the Zone…

If we didn’t have such a wicked day on Monday I would’ve said this mornings session was my fave so far. Man I love Billy Elliot and watching that clip really inspired me as to the importance of providing somewhere where students can explore their passions and get in their Zone. A picture collage of our representations of what we look/feel like when we’re in the zone is below. Even this was a great way to locate that feeling.

For me being in the zone is not doing Ballet…my mum (Debbie) said i danced like an elephant and was never very feminine…cheers mum. For me it’s sharing my passions with other people,  steam trains, cooking, laughing with my husband & brother (a regularity), engaging in someones history/experiences and bowling that wicked shot that makes my bumpy grin at Indoor Bowls. Even though I have many versions of my zone, the feelings are the same. I engage in my passions without anyone judging me or questioning the relevance, and if they do, i don’t care. Our kids need to feel the same. Ensuring our learning is truly personalised and responsive will help this happen.

In the zone

So thursday week 4…random pondering’s from my brain;

  • It’s about relationships!
  • Our team is really coming together, developing friendships, getting comfortable, challenging each other and still quirky 🙂
  • The book i’m reading…’One Kid at a Time’ Eliot Levine…AMAZING!! Blog summary to come soon. Everyone should read this book!


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The last few days have presented some pretty exciting experiences. Working with Julia Atkin on Monday was pretty outstanding. I left feeling challenged (the good kind), inspired and confident.

It was interesting to see that I fell pretty much where I expected within the Hermann’s Brain model – red and yellow with a bit of the others. It was also interesting to see that a quite a few of us such as Lea and I had pretty similar models which would explain why I feel tuned into her brain at times! My model is below but for a more thorough explanation of how the model works see the link. Sally’s blog is also awesome for giving a really in-depth explanation.


It was interesting to see us all as a bunch, on the yellow/red side of things. Essential for the task ahead and all with the right type of mindset: open, creative and focussed on relationships.

Julia really challenged us when looking at things to keep going back to the why. I took a classroom practice such as encouraging questioning or making connections between learning and the learner and was tasked with bringing it back to my core value. Why do I do this? Why do I believe it is important? This was something that I felt comfortable with, I feel very aware of the inner purpose for something. However, articulating it proved more difficult! With some encouragement and questioning I was able to co-construct with Jill and Julia my most important value/realisation of the day:


Julia talked about the fact that when we take a practice and nut down to the core reasons we do something the same few values will keep re-appearing. She has about 5 that keep coming back. On Monday I began my journey, nutting out my core values in regards to education and realising the one above. I’m looking forward to discovering what else will appear.

EMPOWERMENT is something that I find myself coming back to over and over. Every time we are discussing a process, Hobsonville Habit, approach to education, I find myself drawing back to the same idea.


My role as a Learning Team Leader will be about relationships, manaakitanga, support and empowerment. At present, I feel empowered on this learning journey. The approach being taken by  Maurie, Di, Lea and Claire has helped us all feel valued and confident in what we bring to the table.  It’s like a really quirky and productive family. We need to make sure the next round of teachers to join our waka as well as the students and communities we will connect with find it the same!

IMG_5753 IMG_5749

The Hobsonville Habits have been coming to life with our work over the last few days. We have been tasked with creating “I” statements for each of the core habits that we feel are important to develop in our learners (teachers and students). This sounds easier than it is, but the process itself is progressing. We are all finding it rewarding to nut out some of the finer details! Still in the big picture phase (my comfort zone) as we have a lot of work to do before our Learner Profile emerges but we are all revelling in the sense of progress. My main approach when dealing with these is to ask “Is it measurable?”. This is necessary to consider to ensure these habits come to life and don’t just get shelved to be pulled out every now and then. These “I” statements will help our habits become embedded in the school culture.

So, after the pondering and processing of random thoughts…another week-ish down, what am I thinking?

  • I need to blog more regularly to adequately process my thoughts
  • Man I love my job
  • Man I love my team
  • Life is good


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Reflecting on the Values…

Reflecting on the Values...

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Exploration, Experiences and Nutting it out….

A week (and a bit) down the track and I have found it daunting to sit down and complete my next blog. Not sure why. I’m pretty sure it’s due to the fact that my brain is overloaded with things to reflect on and I’m not quite sure where to start. To cope with the confusion I have split my ideas into a few categories…Exploration, Experiences and Nutting it out….


Exploration, (apart from relationships and food is probably) the key word I would use to explain this last seven days. Exploring the environment, the people and myself. Exploring the environment has been awesome, working in a new space with new scenery and an awareness of the new community we will be working with. The site visit on Wednesday really stood out for me. It was amazing how massive the place really is. The thought process that has gone into the layout and making sure everything is catered for, that the environment will suit the philosophy and mission. Also, man it must be expensive to start a new school!! Our task on Friday was to explore our zone. Getting to know each other and the community a bit better, as well as an excuse to drink coffee and eat…again. I am really aware of the difference in the community from my last school but also excited about the diversity it will offer. Hobsonville Point, West Harbour, Whenuapai and Herald Island all quite different places. Exploring myself and how I work has been very surprising. It has been a great chance to explore my philosophy…what I feel education should look like, how it can best cater for youth and meshing this together with everyone else’s vision and ideas has been awesome. I have found i work differently than i thought, and to the surprise of many but mostly myself really need individual time to reflect and think..quietly.


Experiences have been a plenty, and it is hard to give justice to all of them. Going back to being a learner. Taking the time to think about what REALLY makes good education. Most of all when it comes to experiences, it would have to be working with both the Senior and Junior Learning Commons at the Primary. Awesome. These kids are so free to think in their own way but have the necessary support around them to effectively engage in their own education. They are being catered for as INDIVIDUALS. They are EMPOWERED. They are LEARNERS. How it should be. I knew I would be thirsting to develop relationships with some more young people and those experiences certainly helped. My Origami butterfly’s and paper creation ‘Mr Clark the Superdog’ were a hit. Man those kids are open…and cool.


Nutting it out would be the best way to describe how we have approached tasks, ideas and new experiences over the last week. Many have found it hard that we don’t have a giant list to tick off and a million and one things to do in a day. At first this was hard for me to get used to. The discussions have been great but my brain is tired. I never thought I would say that talking all day is hard work! It has been great pulling myself out of the comfort zone of my old team and getting used to new people, ideas and methods. We all have the same vision, but our brains work in different ways. That’s cool. Keeps you on your toes. Challenging, in a good way. I’m definitely still in the big picture zone and I am wanting to really take the time to immerse myself in the vision. I’m not struggling with no things to tick of. Actually, I have adapted to it very easily. The ‘brain tasks’ that we are undertaking at the moment are so important to me. I’m putting myself out there and going forward with the confidence to put what I have to offer on the table. I’m sucking in what all the others have to offer!

We had a great reflection time with Di yesterday afternoon. My brain processing of the experience is in the image below but I came away with a few things I would like to ponder and re-visit over the next few weeks…

  1. Why did i come into teaching in the first place?
  2. How has this changed? 
  3. What should HPSS look like to best cater for the youth of today?
  4. How can we EMPOWER learners?


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