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Princi(PAL)ple Reflections

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By Isaac Day

Below are some exerpts from some of our communication with cluster principals around our project.  I have included these with their permission as I feel that it is important to not how we have felt about the project and what directions the schools are now heading in, thanks to the learning that this project allowed us to explore.

First up our principals noted that:

The impact of the cluster on the development of integrated elearning at Nayland primary has been significant. It has given our staff and students the ability to learn new skills and ideas, to implement these across the curriculum and to engage more effectively with or families and whanau.  The on-going professional development, including strategic plan development has resulted in purposeful and authentic learning experiences for children.
The strategic plan has led to strong rational being applied when purchasing equipment.
We have very good cohesion across the school and the sharing of good practice happens each week so staff are learning from each other. (Nayland)

Improved collegiality of cluster schools professionally.
Broke down barriers/misconceptions between primary/intermediate
improved awareness of students learning across a range of age groups in relation to ICT
Created a PLD model that continue to be sustained beyond ICT
Added diversity of opportunity for students to access eg flick it on etc etc when they may have never tried these interests (Broadgreen)

Stoke School not only grew as a school community but as a cluster, national and global community. The 3year ICT contract opened the virtual door for all of our teachers, students and community into the opportunities in our world around us. Our communication has improved 10 fold as we now share online documents, diaries, planning and agendas in an immediate real time environment. The conversations that have developed around  Teaching as Inquiry have been amazing and not just within our school but within our cluster, our teachers have explored the classrooms of colleagues for the first time even though they have taught alongside each other for years, teachers have explored other schools for the first time even though they have been part of the same community. After the first year or two I don’t think we all knew how far we had come but now when we are sharing articles, accessing information and reflecting collaboratively there is sly smile upon our faces as we are empowered due to the tools, inspiration and collegiality we received as part of the ICT contract. Teachers had a chance to explore personal interest areas in depth and leaders were developed and born within our schools, experts started emerging and this helped us all jump on the bus and travel together. The community got in behind the school and I am sure the number of ipad sales went up as a result of our integration and use. Our school curriculum has now been totally revamped and I believe this contract was the catalyst for a new and improved school based curriculum.
The challenge is to continue the development and build on the collaborative frameworks we put in place, we know we have moved along way forward so the momentum is there. Kia tu tonu. (Stoke School)

The cluster contract developed the confidence of most of our staff to integrate ICT as a tool. Students confirmed this by reporting the use of computers and other technologies are used very often in their learning.  Sharing of practice and growth continues amongst staff through after school professional development.  The students are keen to be the 'experts' and teachers have felt confident to give the students more responsibility and opportunity for leadership.  (Birchwood)

This contract was enormously powerful for us, it allowed us to collaborate, share and learn in ways that made us consider the needs of our learners.  We developed a reviewed and renewed purpose and vision for the school and this was well balanced with effective learning lenses which have underpinned everything that we do. (Enner Glynn)

Principals also noted that the work around digital citizenship lead to:

A greater awareness for staff students and parents of digital citizenship and it’s impact on learning. Our school cyber safety policies and procedures have also been updated as a result. (Nayland)

This work alloed us to focus on what we wanted for our kids and look beyond the specifics into a vision for how he wanted our kids to act in all environments, not just digitally.  Our model is aligned to our principles and is very effective. (Enner Glynn)

In terms of curriculum:

Staff awareness of how eLearning can support student learning is much stronger. Elearning tools used for realistic integration of curriculum.
Greater emphasis on inquiry learning as we know understand how to use elearning to support this and we have more equipment to support learning.
Nayland Curriculum now includes a section on elearning and how this will be implemented school wide.
School elearning strategic plan developed and implemented giving staff clear pathways and processes to support learning. (Nayland)
Our curriculum development is ongoing, but this development gave us the power to rething our curriculum paradigms and try to move them out of the stone age! :-)  Curriculum is now more responsive and allows for authentic learning through inquiry and doing.  As our vision says, it allows us to ensure 'active learning' takes place. (Enner Glynn)

When it comes to Leadership, some thoughts from the leadership group include:

The “Lead teacher” model has developed the knowledge and capability of lead teachers. They now willingly lead staff workshops and do presentations at conferences, sharing their knowledge and their learning journey related to the implementation of elearning school wide.  (Nayland)
Having a wider leadership group was great for us, because this learning has gone beyond one or two people and has allowed a broader base of knowledge and understanding to develop.  It is pleasing to know that this group still collaborate and we have continued to work on projects such as 'kids can' and 'genius' together.  (Enner Glynn)

In terms of participation of family/whānau...

Greater input from parents on class blogs
elearning activities form part of our parent information evenings in literacy and maths held each year.
Transition to school blog used at our New Entrant parent meetings and these parents comment on how helpful it is and a good reference for them.  (Nayland)

We have engaged our parents in our knowledgeNET and safety sessions around digital citizenship.  This is the easiest way in for us, as this is something that piques the interest of our famiies and get them engaged.  Many like the security of our own 'social learning network' and that the kids are engaged in the environment but are also safe in it.  (Enner Glynn)

We also have some thoughts form our group on the sharing that went on.

Some teachers lead sessions at the regional cluster meetings
Examples of elearning at Nayland Primary was used on the MOE video to support the Learning Without Limits nationwide seminars. Following these seminars we have received enquiries from other schools about our plans and budgets which we have shared.
Two teachers are presenting at the ULearn conference this year
Staff from schools in Rotorua, Seatoun School and have visited Nayland to see what we do.  (Nayland)

While are staff are not as active on the VLN they have been heavily involved with our KN and also sharing learning through walkthroughs and the increasing number of visitors we are getting as we try to bring everything together.  Consistency is a challenge but things are becommming more contagious.  (Enner Glynn)

As you can see there are a variety of great outcomes from this project and as we continue to work together (Yes - we are ALL still working closely together! Cool) we hope to continue to grow these areas and support our growth with quality eLearning practice.