To embed any change requires time, it requires staying focussed on the overall goal. This comes back to having a real living vision for our school and its learners and then strategically working towards it. Real culture change takes at least five years. Without the awareness of what time is needed a strong coherent, connected vision will never be realised. From the interview opportunity I was given at Waipahihi to today I have talked about four key elements that our shared vision had to work towards. They were:
A lack of inclusiveness - in the context of this diagram equals people operating in silos. Over the past few years our school has worked at developing an inclusive, or in our case, collaborative, work environment. The leadership team has put significant time and effort into building a workplace that reflects a high degree of professional relational trust and effective school-wide collaboration. Our leadership structure, in partnership with our team of teachers and support staff, have fostered a transparent team culture that values accountability and professional reflection. Our collaborative leadership approach reflects a clear commitment to growing leadership capacity across the school which in turn works together to develop, implement and improve our systems and processes for coherent and sustainable practice.
The inclusiveness within our staff team develops consistency of understanding and clarity of direction across the school.
A living vision is one that is both aspirational and measureable. The key to making this happen is creating a visual alongside that a catchphrase that sets the foundation from which key elements of the school, its connection to place, and an indication of what culture its working is apparent.
Our logo image draws on a number of elements. The three shapes represent our people, our land, and our place. ‘Our people’ is represented by the swoosh entering the reversed out koru (cooler blue – not yet warmed/changed by the warmer water – the school). The reversed out koru is composed of ‘our land’ (symbolized by Mt Tauhara in green) and ‘our place’ (symbolized by the scorching waters). Together they form the koru shape – acknowledging the importance of both. The swoosh entering the koru also symbolizes the pathway.
Our catchphrase "Immersed in Learning" strongly links to the imagery around both the meaning of our school name, the 'place of scorching waters', and, the learning that takes place at Waipāhīhī. “Immersed in Learning” is a broad statement to represent involving oneself deeply in a particular activity. In this case, the activity is learning and it’s deep learning. Surface retention of facts and figures that are rote learned in formal transitional learning environments are not enough anymore. To be successful in this century we need to know how to take some knowledge, connect it to new ideas and to take it deeper.
'Immersed in Learning' ties in nicely with our core learning beliefs (Courage, Ownership, Respect and Empathy) that are then exampled through our key principles and practices that underpin our everyday teaching and learning philosophy.