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An open letter to Minister Hipkins - 13 Reasons Why EVERY teacher deserves a pay rise!

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Dear Minister Hipkins,

Too often the narrative around why we need a pay rise can become focused on how hard the job is. The act of teaching is hard, however be assured, a career in teaching is a privilege. That said I do believe each and every teacher in this country deserves a generous pay rise, not because it's a tough job, but because it is a bloody important and complex one. 

Here are my 13 reasons why...

1) What we do is important!
There is no question. Being a teacher is one of the most important roles in our community. We are not only fantastic (low cost) caretakers and babysitters for much of the year, we are also trusted to provide young people with the knowledge and skills they need to survive and thrive, whilst also addressing community concerns and government priorities - we are miracle workers (and hence we deserve the pay to go with it. What we do is seriously important work on many levels.
“One child, one teacher, one book, one pen can change the world.” - Malala Yousafz…

The Principal Diaries: My Lens on Powerful Learning

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If there is one thing I am pretty adamant about, it is that the Principal's primary role is to be the 'leader of learning'. To that end one of my real focus areas in my first term as Principal is to observe as much learning as I can in action. As many of you will know, at Albany Senior High School (ASHS) we have three strands to our curriculum - Tutorials, Specialist Subjects and Impact Projects.

You can read explanations of each part of the curriculum here:
Tutorials: http://ashs.school.nz/curriculum/tutorials
Specialist Subjects: http://ashs.school.nz/curriculum/specialist-subjects
Impact Projects: http://ashs.school.nz/curriculum/impact-projects

I came into the school knowing that I loved the curriculum design and the way that the time allocations clearly signalled the value of each element. What I did not know was how well each element (in their current form) was meeting the needs of each and every learner. And as in every school there is often a bit of a disconnect be…

The Principal Diaries - same, same but different

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Today marks the end of my first week as Principal at Albany Senior High School.

The week began with a stunning powhiri to mark the hand over from Hobsonville Point Secondary School to Albany Senior High School and a beautiful way to mark my transition from Deputy Principal to Principal. It was genuinely touching to have my HPSS whanau, my family and friends to support me on my journey to the "other side". My whaikorero from the powhiri probably sums it up best:



Firstly I would like to thank and acknowledge my Hobsonville Point Secondary School whanau for getting me to this point. I really can’t overstate the impact that working at Hobsonville Point Secondary School over these last five and a half years has had on me as a person, as an educator and as a leader. I have often acknowledged that starting a school is a less than a once in a lifetime opportunity. Working collaboratively to flesh out a vision, develop a set of guiding principles and designing and developing a curricu…

Impact Projects - Prototyping an innovation project

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HPSS has prioritised project learning from day one. Inspired by the likes of The Met School, High Tech High and Albany Senior High School we decided very early on that projects would be an important part of our curriculum design and to that end Learning Projects became one third of the HPSS curriculum story.


Learning Projects evolved over the last five years (first led by Sarah Wakeford and more recently overseen by Liz, Jayne, Rebecca and Cairan) to become a differentiated range of offerings including Big Projects (more teacher led projects aimed at Years 9-10), Impact Projects (more student led projects based on the ASHS model) and Pathways Projects (aimed at Years 12-13 with a focus on pathways beyond schools such as gateway, work experience and tertiary studies). Whilst the focus may change there is a common learning design model and framework that underpins them all, with students going through a kick off phase, planning, action, review and finally showtime. 


This year was my f…

My HPSS Journey - reflecting on an awesome five and a half years

2013 - De-schooling and re-schooling 2013 was a year that many educators do not get to experience. It was a year of "de-schooling" and "re-schooling". Maurie, Lea, Di and myself were given the most phenomenal gift of time and space to plan and prepare for the opening of Hobsonville Point Secondary School. In those first six months we spent time fleshing out our school vision, developing a set of guiding principles and establishing (with our community) what was to become our Hobsonville Habits. In that time we visited a wide range of schools here (Ormiston Senior, Albany Senior, Unlimited and Hagley) and several schools in Canada and the USA on our grand Edu-tour. Our first stop was Providence, Rhode Island to visit the founding Big Picture School, Dennis Littky's Met School. The second group of schools we visited was all part of the Canadian Coalition of Self-Directed Schools, including Westmount, Mary Ward (Toronto), Bishop Carroll School (Calgary) and Thomas …

NCEA - Considering the 'Big Opportunities'

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These recent months have seen a number of groups start putting their stake in the ground around the NCEA Review. It has been interesting seeing people reveal their cards, and often exposing some odd assumptions about what is actually being reviewed and who is shaping the review within the Labour/Green/NZ First camp. For the sake of "joining the conversation" I thought I might share some my personal thoughts about the NCEA Review and it's proposed "Big Opportunities".

Note - the parts in italics are taken from this document: Download the Big Opportunities discussion document which can be found here

For what it's worth I actually think NCEA is pretty cool as it is. I like it's flexibility and that it already let's "you do you". If anything I think it is our mindsets that needs to be reviewed first before we get to the actual framework. Here is my pondering about that perspective: NCEA - we need to review our mindset first

But that said, I al…

The Digital Blue Yonder - what's on the digital horizon for education and how might we harness it?

Over the last six months I have been delivering variations of the above presentation, looking at what I believe to be the biggest disruptors (and enablers) on the digital horizon. 
The presentation begins with the well worn introduction to Moore's Law and covers off a myriad of examples of technology that has continued to double in speed and processing power whilst reducing in size and cost. This is then reinforced by an excerpt from Kaila Corbin's Introduction to Exponentials from the Christchurch Singularity U Summit where she deftly describes the concept of doubling curves and the inability for human brains to actually comprehend such a bonkers rate of change. What I particularly like about this presentation was the way she paints this visual of such an extreme acceleration of change it paints a vertical line, the only problem is we, as humans, standing on the horizontal part of the continuum, tend look back and only see the gentle incline that got us to this point in hist…