Reflections and Resolutions

AKA Happy New Years 

Looking back on the last year it seems hard to comprehend how it all fitted in to 365 days. 2014 was awesome in many senses of the word.

Being part of a team establishing a new school which is genuinely trying to redesign how we approach secondary education in NZ was both a blast and a challenge. As I have often articulated - if it is all easy peasy, we probably aren't doing it properly. 

So how was the the first year at HPSS?? In hindsight it was actually stunning. It is really only on reflection that you get a sense of just how much we all achieved in establishing an innovative, student centred brand spanking new secondary school. Admittedly there were many occasions where I was not feeling quite this positive. For one, the whole notion of "building an airplane while we are flying it" is not something I enjoy. Learning to go with the flow and accept that processes and protocols weren't all in place on Day One (or Day 200 for that matter) was something I genuinely struggled with. I reflected 18 months ago how the process of setting up a school had actually caused me to conduct many an internal argument - my future-focused creative self genuinely wanting to challenge my own mental models and trying to embrace the new and different. My routine, security loving self however soon realised just how much I really cherished clearly articulated structures, processes and protocols. That part of myself really struggled with us taking our time to work out "how we do things around here". And I'll be honest I am still struggling with this, although I do head into the new year with a genuine confidence that we are finding a happy middle ground. One where we are putting in place "enabling constraints", where we have just enough processes and protocols set (such as assessment and reporting timelines being established for the year) with still plenty of room for iteration, evolution and innovation (we have a commitment to our timetable being fluid and structures and curriculum design being up for review and re-visioning throughout the year).

It's an interesting dichotomy to deal with as it is in a sense the dichotomy we need all educators to be willing to wrestle with. If we have any hope of achieving widespread change in education to ensure we are delivering a genuinely relevant educational experience, we are all going to need to challenge that part of ourselves that actually thrives on the relatively unchanging nature of the school year  (recall the shock and horror caused by the Rugby World Cup) and the often unchanging way we even deliver what we teach (think back over the number of years you have been teaching, what do you pull out of that teaching bag o' tricks time and time again...). Now compare how much or how little school has changed since you were at school compared to how much or little banking, shopping, planning a holiday or any other routines have changed. How do we stack up? We talk about being adaptive experts, but are we walking the talk? The reality is that yes we are changing, albeit at a glacial pace for many. And there is good reason for the lack of change - one major being that our means of measuring achievement and academic success has not changed (yet). Why change if the way we measure and publish achievement doesn't require us to? Or even worse, penalises us if we change too much? Another good reason to not change is that change is bloody hard. Not only is change hard, but it can sometimes feel unrewarding - the students haven't been through the school system before, they only know what they know and are unlikely to do anything other than take that whizz bang innovative practice for granted, especially when even our fairly radically transformed schooling at HPSS is nothing compared to the constant evolution that they (the students) are exposed to (and expect) in their day to day technology soaked lives. Still, all of this aside, we must gird up our loins and commit to change, even if it might not seem to pay off in the short term. We need to look past simply teaching to the assessment and look at how we can prepare them instead for a life of constant change. As far as change being hard (and exhausting - ask any HPSS staff member if you need specific examples and evidence) we need to think less of "adaptive expertise" and more of "sustainable agility". If we really value education as a formal system we do need for it to evolve, but we also need to ensure we show we value the educators as well (and therefore avoid killing ourselves in the process).

And it is on this note I know want to share with you all my plans, my set of resolutions, which might help me work towards this state of "sustainable agility" by the end of 2015.

I love making resolutions, I love the idea that each new year can represent a new start. I also love the idea of sharing (surprise, surprise) these as publicly as possible. I find this kind of public declaration handy as it signals (for me anyway) a sense of commitment and accountability. I also believe (and this is the reason I share so much) that sharing can help prod and encourage others to think, act and share as well. So here they are, my resolutions for 2015:
  1. Write an Ed blogpost every week. (Yuss! Have at least achieved that one for Week One).
  2. Make sensible clean healthy eating an everyday habit (without the falling off the wagon weeks).
  3. Go for a walk with the kids/dogs, do yoga and work out with a trainer at least once a week. 
  4. Set myself a curfew for going offline in the evenings and use that time to put family first, read and work on mindfulness.
  5. Knock another 60 points off my Masters of Ed Leadership, get on to EDUCANZ and complete NAPP whilst still achieving balance.
I have much more I could waffle on about, both about 2014 and plans for 2015, but as I have committed to at the very least a weekly post, I guess I should save something for the future.

Would be very keen to hear your reflections and resolutions, and if you are keen to join me on my weekly Ed blog challenge let me know and we can come up with a hashtag such as #weeklyedpost for easy sharing?? 


  1. Some great NZ edu blogs at #edblognz already -


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