Brian Price – Principal of Breens Intermediate shares how they used the e-Learning Planning Framework to develop their strategic planning with a focus on improving literacy levels for their Māori students. Teachers have input into, and ownership of, the actions developed and they report to the Board of Trustees on student progress. A collaborative approach using Google docs, improved wireless technology, and BYOD for students have led to improvements.
Our literacy goals this year are focused for both reading and literacy on our Māori students. The reason why we’ve come to that conclusion is that when we analysed our data last year it was quite clear that our Māori students hadn’t made the gains we’d hoped for. We looked at right from the leadership all the way right down. We were looking at what do we strategically really want, what at a Board level do we want, what management level, and leadership level were we actually doing, and looked at the e-learning planning framework and used it as a tool to start peeling down the layers from the top down. And we were realising pretty early on that although we thought everybody knew, we didn’t quite have the buy-in that we thought we had. We fell into the cardinal sin that a lot of schools do, sort of sits at the management level and is talked down to the teachers and the teachers all nod their heads and think, “Yeah that’s right, that’s right, that’s right,” and then it went and sat in a document.
We gathered data from what our teachers thought were our goals, what our teachers thought were the strategic plan, what the management thought was going on, right through to what was happening with our literacy support area with our teacher aides, and then also from our students, so we looked at the data, shared it with the teachers and took our time setting our goals and then getting the teachers to look really closely at ok here’s the goal, what are the steps? Gave them the blank framework and in their particular teams, we’d introduced the power of three at that particular stage which was three teachers working really closely together for those classrooms, so they were responsible for those three classrooms as opposed to one teacher one class.
So we were focused very much on the teachers writing the actions points and then putting that all in a Google doc and using that as our review, and the Board got all excited about that too. They could see that it was just going to keep evolving, and the ownership of the target and the actions became more towards the teachers.
With the staff, probably the most significant changes is around the actual ownership of the action points towards the target and looking at the e-learning planning framework, a lot of the practices that they are doing are more open to collaboration, more open to using a variety of tools to try and get engagement and motivation happening and probably engaging the students a lot more. And what’s happened there is that once the teachers have got a little bit more empowered and talking with the students more, and wanting more tools, the requests for, “We need this and we really need that,” were coming to us, and not only did it then become about the tools that they were going to be using, but also the spaces that they could be using, and the resources they could be using, and each of the strengths.
So planning became more deliberate, planning became more collaborative, planning became really focused on the students more. You know, how do you know that you are making a difference? With the students, what is it going to take to move you this year, be more transparent with the data, right through to, you know, there’s the learning plan.
Instead of the literacy specialist or the Principal reporting to the Board, the actual team leaders are reporting to the Board. They know their students, they know their targeted kids and they are actually fronting up and talking directly to the Board.
Yeah, what we’ve done within the school is really quickly realised where we’re going. So, we looked very closely at our wireless and what was going to be the best system we could do with what we could afford. You know, putting in a managed switch with BYOD, ensuring we had someone at the school that was approachable and knew a fairly good understanding of the ICT so we didn’t have to wait for our support person and getting that sort of empowerment happening.
So we’ve ended up looking at what is a digital citizen, what do our kids need. You know it’s changed a lot in that, you know, you walk into the science lab and there are the kids with a Galaxy and an iPhone and an iPad filming the science teacher so they can share what the lesson was that took place today with their parents. And I think possibly because we’re also working with the power of three a little bit with the teachers working collaboratively so there’s a lot more sharing going on and everyone’s sort of leaning over each other’s shoulders, the kids sort of teaching the teachers, the teachers going back and teaching the students and facilitating some really, really good stuff that’s going on that’s quite exciting.
So yeah we’ve got a lot of devices that are coming in through the door. The teachers aren’t having to deal with the setting up of those, we have a specialist who can do that so the teachers can get on with the core business of teaching and learning, and we’ve come to that particular time where everyone feels a little bit more confident, a little bit more empowered. You know, all the staff are sort of trailing and risking and doing all of those things we ask the kids to do and so it’s a great learning partnership that’s going on.
The same thinking that got us into the problem isn’t going to get us out of the problem, so we have to think differently, and that’s where the e-learning framework has given us some other example of ways in which we can engage the kids and so we can have to think a little bit differently.