It is always great to hear if/when #edchatNZ has influenced positive change somewhere in this beautiful country of ours. Please make sure you have shared your story too. In fact, we would love to post your story on this blog. So send us an email with the link to admin@edchatNZ.com. Can't wait to hear from you too!
"After #edchatNZ... the conference that never ended
I was lucky enough to bring a team of colleagues to the #edchatNZ conference in August. Experiencing the 2 days together showed me I was no longer a lone nut, I was part of a mixed nut group keen to enact change. We naturally leaned towards ways to improve our local junior curriculum (Years 9 and 10). In a high performing school so focused on excellence, especially in NCEA, junior classes can easily become the poor cousins to senior classes for busy, fully loaded teachers of multiple levels. In times of busyness and stress, we readily default to the industrial model of teaching that we were bred and educated in. So as a group we decided to make our junior programmes an absolute focus for improvement. We want to work more collaboratively, be cross-curricular, use assessment for learning and explicitly teach the principles, values and key competencies.
So post-conference around the lunch table we kept the conversations going, more people came on board and we ended up with a larger interested group who decided to focus on the Year 9 programme next year. We chose to assign a future focus theme from the curriculum to each term. This would be a wide enough scaffold for any curriculum areas that wanted to align their programmes and non-threatening enough for reluctant teachers to give it a go.
In a staff meeting, I gave a quick presentation about the "front of the curriculum" - and how the principles, values and key competencies should be integral and at the forefront of our minds when planning programmes. For the cross-curricular "sell" I also reiterated the principle Coherence - the idea that "The curriculum offers all students a broad education that makes links within and across learning areas, provides for coherent transitions, and opens up pathways to further learning."(NZC, 2007). After the staff meeting, anyone who was interested, or wanted to be involved was welcome to stay behind an continue the conversation. At a rough guess 60 - 70% of teachers stayed, and the response was overwhelmingly positive, with some small but relevant areas of concern. It's at this point I'd like to acknowledge a fantastically open minded staff of teachers, an enabling principal and senior leadership team, and a supportive BOT who absolutely trust us to offer a programme that's best for our community.
We started a Google Doc as a place to share thinking and ideas, and more and more teachers in different curriculum areas have seen it as achievable to link their teaching and learning programmes to other curriculum areas. This is an example of the doc in it's early stages:
After some thinking and collaborating time, another meeting later, we have settled on the following themes for each term next year:
Term One: Globalisation
Term Two: Diversity
Term Three: Enterprise/Innovation
Term Four: Citizenship (Sustainability)
A fresh Google Doc has been started as a place for collaborative planning to occur. Some of us are optimistically hoping to spend a lot of Term 4 redesigning our Year 9 programmes now that we have something to work with. Subject and teacher involvement will be as little or as much as they want it to be. This framework exists for those that are passionate about aligning the learning in their Year 9 classes to other learning areas, and for those that aren't, learning can still occur in the way they want it to, but we hope they'll catch the bug one day!"