The series on Aotearoa New Zealand continues here with the fourth article on Hobsonville Point Secondary School.
One of the questions I asked at every school I visited in New Zealand was how they developed the instructional & assessment capacity to support Overall Teacher Judgment, a core aspect of their education system. It’s not that NZ teachers have more pre-service training. It’s about the same amount or less than their U.S. counterparts. Certainly, the moderated assessment strategies used by the New Zealand Qualification Authority to ensure consistency of NCEA Levels have helped to build capacity around performance-based assessment. However, there had to be more.
At one point, Maurie Abraham, principal of Hobsonville Point Secondary School, mentioned that the teaching staff have professional learning every day. He must have seen my jaw drop as he then proceeded to tell me how they do it.
- Students start at 9 am every day except Wednesday, which is a late start at 9:30.
- Teachers gather at 8:30 every morning for 30 minutes (and one hour on Wednesdays) for reflection, professional learning, and keeping the vision vibrantly alive through practice.
- There is a weekly schedule: Monday is time to reflect on the vision to keep it alive while addressing the day to day operations; Tuesday is focused on projects and project-based learning; Wednesday is time to talk about the teachers’ cycle of inquiry and to participate in whole staff professional learning; Thursday is focused on teaching practice including UDL, differentiation, and collaborative teaching; and on Friday, learning coaches work closely with teachers on dispositional learning (the important mindsets and dispositions that are important to lifelong learning).
I know some would question this structure – is professional learning in short bits valuable? When you add it up, they have commited 3 hours per week in the weekly schedule for professional learning. They are signalling that professional learning matters.
That’s the story of Hobsonville Point Secondary School in a nutshell. Keeping a focus on what matters: students and learning.