Sylvia Park School principal, Barbara Alaalatoa, and lead coordinator of the Mutukaroa project, Ariana Williams, discuss the benefits for coordinators of being involved in a professional learning community where they have access to a wide range of support in a safe online environment.
Mutukaroa started at Sylvia Park School, but it’s now been expanded and adapted into a number of schools across the country.
The purpose of Mutukaroa is to support parents to understand student achievement data, and so that they can raise achievement in reading, writing and maths.
It’s been really successful here, and we’ve been lucky enough to be supported by the Ministry to be able to roll this piece of work out in lots of other schools which have been organised into clusters. Each of those clusters has a coordinator, just like Ari that we have here.
The reason we are using the VLN is because there’s a number of schools taking part in Mutukaroa across the nation, and we wanted to find a place where all those people can come together and get some resources and the tools that they need, and to be able to communicate in one place.
They are able to share resources, there’s resources that are already on there that they can access around Mutukaroa, there’s videos that they can see, all the translated brochures and things that we’ve put together. But also the coordinators have provided a lot of resources that they can share across the nation too.
So the coordinators in the other schools are well supported through the idea of the network itself. And some of the things that have been really central to that is their ability to meet together, to problem solve, and create things that they need, particularly because it’s quite early in the piece for those coordinators.
So the VLN’s been really important for them to be able to do that at a drop of a hat really.
So initially using the VLN I think what helped is just starting discussions. We had a lot of coordinators who had questions so we said post them up on there and get the responses that you need.
And then we have lead coordinators that sort of bring up things that have come from network meetings that they want to discuss, and they go onto the VLN to be shared. There’s questions up there that stay up there. So we have new phases of schools that come through, and instead of having to post up something new, they can go through and look at the old questions that have come up.
Also it’s just a one stop shop where you can find all of the information that you need and get all the answers that you need.
Part of the success of this VLN is that it’s a closed group so everyone in there feels safe. They can ask any question that they like and not feel like it’s really silly or, you know, someone's already asked it. They can ask anything that they want, and all the coordinators just feel comfortable in that environment.
Some of the benefits of having a VLN where you can discuss across a wide range of people is you get a lot of different perspectives, and also a lot of different answers to the same questions.
So it’s nice to have a whole lot of different people that you can call on if you have a question about Mutukaroa, or if you’re finding things that you need to work on, there’s other people that can help you - you’re not alone.