Community Connection with School
This week I want to briefly highlight the varied approaches that our school uses to connect with our parent community and what we are working at to improve these lines of communication. This is an ongoing process and something that we take seriously. Please browse the list below and let me know if you have any ideas to improve some of the systems we have.
Some ongoing examples are:
Some meeting examples are:
It's all about culture...
One of the highlights from the conference last week was the consistent theme about the importance of developing a shared understanding and ownership of the learning culture that makes our place unique. There is no other school that has the people in it that we do. Our children, our teachers, our whānau all combine together to create the learning culture is embodied everyday in what we do together at this thing called school.
So much of what we do is trying hard to engage, enrich, challenge and respect each and every learner and family - and yet we are human - and so some of that effort and intent from all of us (whether teacher or parent or child) can be misrepresented and misinterpreted. The very nature of life complicates this as the traditional (what we know or remember school to be) interacts and collides with the now (what we want or inspire to create or be as school). The picture below examples this in a school culture sense:
The tug of war that goes on within a vibrant school community and learning culture environment is nicely exampled by the tug of war! For all of us who face change and challenge in our everyday life the atmosphere and intent of school is working together with you to develop the knowledge and skills necessary for our children to not only cope, but to thrive and adapt in the age we live in and the future we face.
My job as Principal is not only to manage the day to day running of the school but to lead the development of a vibrant teaching and learning culture that is based on an enriching, engaging wide curriculum that encourages our tamariki to be resilient, respectful, courageous and creative in ways that compliment the uniqueness that is their own. (Needless to say I think that I came back from conference inspired...)
Keep an eye out for the separate email coming home to you where I would love your feedback on the developing learning vision that we have been co-constructing over the past six months with our staff and our different parent groups. With your support we can continue to grow this together!
Learning Environment Conference - Initial reflection...
For the last three days I have been fortunate enough to be able to attend the Learning Environment Conference in Melbourne. This event was unique as it specifically aimed at bringing architects, designers and educationalists (all of whom have a different perspective) together to consider this thing we call school and how the design and space we have interacts and influences both 'school' and the 'learning' that is happens within that environment.
Our school is not brand new and it was designed and built in an era when the thinking about classroom space and learning was quite simply about a room - period. There was not much (if any) thought given to acoustics, lighting, insulation and the overall link between the purpose and the specific design and use of space. All schools sixty years ago were one of three or four simple designs, no matter where they were being built. They also did not consider how they would grow if and when that happened. One of the key messages over the three days from speakers and site visits to school was that whether you are a new or an existing school we have to consider the development of the space we have and be specific about how we plan to develop and use the space, both now and in the future.
Planned development (and re-development) is key. This year in July we begin a new capital works budget period (Ministry of Education fund capital works projects on two five yearly cycles which form the 10 year Property Plan). This gives us a chance to develop a master plan that reflects our intent to connect our changing practice with ongoing property and building changes and innovation. The visible culture of learning at our school can be enhanced by planned and connected property development. This is also important as our town continues to grow over the coming years and Waipahihi School sitting at the end of town which has the space and residential zoning for growth.
One of the key contacts made while on this conference was with one of the key Ministry officials who is the key 'point man' for all the regional property facilitators and who is an old boy of our school! This contact is in our town at the end of the month and he's keen to come and have a look around 'our place' and talk about where we're at. While we are not earmarked for a massive injection of new building, developing key contacts like this, planning strategically for the years ahead and being adaptable to changes around us will stand us in good stead when the time comes!