The end of week 5 saw Luke, Kat, Kelly & Fred on the road to Rototuna Junior College in Hamilton. Rototuna opened at the beginning of this academic year, and as another Junior College there were lots of learning opportunities on offer. Kat explored further around the operation and best practice in school libraries (or cybraries) while the rest of the team was given a tour of the school and an opportunity to interact with students and staff in a new innovative learning environment. On Monday the team attended the ‘Growth Mindsets’ professional learning course in Ellerslie - we were joined by the existing teaching and leadership team, as well as Sylvie and Priscilla, two of the new cohort of staff set to join us on 10th October. Carol Dweck is out of Stanford University in the US and in 2006 wrote the book ‘Mindsets: The New Psychology of Success’, which for some educators revolutionised their classroom practice. By teaching our students to focus on the process of learning, and to understand that intelligence is there to be grown and developed. These are great insights into intelligence and cognition and fit beautifully into our own OJC philosophies on Haoura, wellbeing and mindfulness. On Thursday, Fred and Kelly visited our neighbouring Mission Heights Junior College to investigate common approaches and see another modern learning environment in action. It’s also wonderful to have the chance to engage with other schools who are dealing with the same age group that we are. This is a small but growing community across the country.
Fred and Kelly have been teamed up with Viv to design a comprehensive 3 week induction program for the new staff coming onboard at the beginning of next term. The cornerstone of these developments are to create a team culture whereby learning is first and foremost and where we are able to shift to a common understanding of what we all believe. The trick here is to make sure that we live and breath our OJC learning philosophies. That we engage, stimulate, provoke and enquire alongside our new staff. That we respect and enjoy the experience, culture and thoughts they bring to the table.
Jan has also been drawing his practicuum to a close this week. Jan’s work with the little ones at Ormiston Primary has helped us all have a strengthened focus. He has for the last 4 weeks been bringing young learners into our allocated space here at the senior college - an obvious reminder about the intended outcome of our current efforts. Jan has also used his space wonderfully and has had students engaged, eager and purposefully excited in their learning.
In exciting news, our team got our new staff jackets this week and we’ve been sporting them proudly around the senior college campus.
OUR ENVIRONMENT - THE THIRD TEACHER
As our new building progresses steadily towards opening, we’ve been fortunate enough to have a look at modern, innovative learning spaces in other schools. This has given us tremendous insight into the thinking behind learning spaces, so that they are genuinely designed to differentiate between students and enable all of our learners. At the CORE education breakfast on Friday morning, Fred and Kelly discussed the importance of getting our learning environment right. With the school’s emphasis on future focused learning, the learning environment plays an important role, but very much sits in the context of our own educational philosophies and our visions for learning. So while important, it works alongside the personalised pedagogy provided by our learning coaches to foster effective learning. It is however equally important to acknowledge that the traditional classroom is set up for the ‘average learner’. The issue here is that there is absolutely no such thing as the average learner. It’s a myth. So our space must accommodate individuals, small, medium and large groups, offer areas for personalised reflection and quiet time, have zones of high and low stimulus and of course offer enough scope to move around. Not such a small challenge.