Graeme Barber, Principal at Woodend School, discusses the importance of having a shared vision in preparing for change. When planning for their new build, it was important that everybody in their community had a voice in developing the vision for their school as the vision drives what happens in the classroom. Graeme explains, "So what we’re working really hard to achieve here, is that we’ve got ownership across the people who are part of it".
Change takes time and what we’re finding within our school is that change is best achieved if you’re actually coming from the bottom up and inside out and I suppose I’m really saying asset based development, community development is really important, rather than a top down model or a deficit model. So what we’re working really hard to achieve here is that we’ve got ownership across the people who are part of it.
Our school vision is all about developing life-long learners and thinkers best prepared for now and into the future. We have a motto we use which is L for L, learning for life. The reason why we’ve got e-leaders comes behind being prepared for our school vision and so when we were looking at innovations or things that we might next do, they were the sort of decisions that were reached by the team, not just the principal and so it seemed logical for us if we were going to be preparing for a new learning and teaching environment that we actually had to engage in the right type of PLD to do that. We had a number of choices and clearly enhancing learning through the use of digital devices was a very important ingredient in that.
We are going to be getting some new buildings, as are a lot of schools in Christchurch, and it’s not about buildings for us, it’s about what happens inside. So we are focused on learning and teaching first and the property comes second. So to enable us to do that, our investment now is to look at preparing for innovative learning practices. We’ve established a design brief with the Ministry so I think everyone’s agreed, including the Ministry of Education, the importance of having all of the ingredients in place around your vision, what the practice might look like, all of the things that influence what will happen in the property before the property starts so that’s come from lots of layers within the Ministry and through education as well. So we have been through that design brief process. It’s been a very engaging process with our staff. We’ve recorded it so that we can actually refer back to it and a very important ingredient of that I think is the fact that we’ve got people who are going out, looking out to bring back, so that we’re designing it with our team members. So they’ve contributed significantly to that design brief by going and looking at other practice, doing lots of readings, having conversations about it and the interesting part of that is that we actually try really hard as a leadership team, Adriene and myself, to go with them and to be part of the conversation and help them frame, or be part of the framing of what that will look like for us. What’s good, what’s not so good for us, what are things we’re not sure about, you know. We’ve used a variety of tools to try and sort of consolidate or synthesise our thinking so that we can actually come up with the best solutions for us and that’s a moving feast too.