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PoriruaNet Reflection "Lessons Learned .... and where to from here?"

What was Important for us?    Lessons learned ... and where to from here? .....

The PoriruaNet Cluster mission statement “To provide an education for our students which ensures they have the knowledge, skills and confidence to use and exploit the digital opportunities that exist both within the schools and in their future life.” was developed for their ICTPD Contract in 2009. The four secondary school leadership teams worked together to establish the key goals and values that they wanted to collaborate on over the course of the 3 year ICTPD Contract -

  • Learning
  • Collaborative development between member schools
  • Providing the best possible educational opportunities to the families of the Porirua Community
  • Improving the pedagogical practice of teachers through ICT

It was important... that we developed a planned programme of ICT PD to include sharing of ICT best practice across and between the schools. We wanted to provide lots of opportunities for teachers to meet share and compare activities they are working on with other staff. Our Principals and leadership teams wanted staff to be included and contribute their own views, practice examples and areas where support could be targeted. 

It was important... we develop a shared understanding across the cluster of what the PoriruaNet professional learning community was, and that we explored the opportunity/requirement for active involvement by all staff.

It was important... we involve our community in the ICTPD Project. We wanted to start with a key cluster message regarding the positive impact of ICT in learning, followed by proactive sharing of that message, and support information, to the wider school community – parents, whānau, contributing schools, and our community support agencies. We were keen to provide lots more opportunities to increase community involvement in our schools using technology.

And lastly.... it was very important to us as a cluster ....to make the most of the ICTPD Funding opportunity for our Porirua schools, their staff, students and community. How could we use this funding support to build toward an effective initiative that would have lasting benefit beyond the life of the Contract?

Why was this Important?

The PoriruaNet ICTPD Cluster represents some 200 teachers and about 5000 students. Four secondary schools - Aotea College, Bishop Viard College, Mana College and Porirua College in an urban setting with rural and harbour views about 10 mins drive apart.....just over the hill but a world away from Wellington City. 

Richly multicultural, the schools reflect their vibrant community, face unique challenges and share a strong sense of collegiality as they work together to best meet the needs of their students. They began this ICTPD journey in 2010 without broadband or much equipment, even less knowledge ....but with great anticipation at what might be achieved by working together.

Introducing Aotea College......

Built in 1977, Aotea College is a Decile 5 co-educational state secondary school,Offering quality education to approximately 1000 pupils from the northern Porirua communityAotea College is committed to the pursuit of academic excellence and the continuous improvement of all student achievement.The school has a unique character, as it draws from a very multi-cultural community of wide ranging socio-economic status. The largest student group is European (50%), followed by Pasifika (25%) and Maori (20%). We recognise the unique position of Maori culture within New Zealand and our relationships with all community groups, including iwi, whānau, Pasifika Fono and churches, are of the utmost importance

We want our community to be proud of Aotea College as a place of learning which reflects all that is good about a diverse NZ society in the 21st Century.

 

Introducing Mana College......

"Mana College is a co-ed Year 9 to 13 College in Porirua being established in 1957. It is a decile 2 school with 65% Maori and about 18% Pacific students, and a roll of about 390.

It has a significant reputation for its calm atmosphere, acceptance of others, cultural performance and sport. It is consistently raising student academic performance as measured by NCEA. Bearing in mind the Government targets our Level 2 performance is this year at its highest recorded level. It is proud to have an ORS funded unit of 23 students at the heart of the school.”

 

Introducing Bishop Viard College........

“Bishop Viard College is an integrated co-educational Catholic Secondary School catering for students from Year 7 through to Year 14. Located in the heart of Porirua our decile 2 school has a multi-cultural student population: 60% Pasifika, 20% Maori, 12% European, 8% Southeast Asian and an increasing number from a refugee background. This cultural diversity is one of our strengths and we are very keen to build on the students’ cultural competencies.

With a roll of 470 and teaching staff of 40 we are big enough to operate effective academic and co-curricular programmes; small enough so that everyone knows everyone else. We are committed to each student's intellectual, spiritual, emotional, physical, cultural and social development. As a Catholic College we aspire to uphold the centrality of the person and teaching of Christ in every aspect of school life.”

 

Introducing Porirua College.....

“Porirua College is a co-educational state secondary school that delivers education for Years 9-13 students. The college has a safe, caring and supportive environment with a reputation for encouraging students to achieve excellence not only academically, but culturally, in sports and the arts.

The Community College also provides free night classes teaching the following languages:
 Tokelau • Tongan • Niue • Samoan • Cook Islands Māori • Te Reo Māori

 Porirua College's Mission: Porirua College develops powerful learners who are willing
and able to use this quality in the service of their communities
.”

What did we do? 

PoriruaNet ICTPD Cluster 2010-2012

“As a result of the ICTPD Contract I believe the staff at Porirua College are much better placed to take advantage of the Moodle and other online environments, for enhancing our teaching and learning programmes and to make the most of our new technical and physical environment.”  Susanne Jungersen [Principal Porirua College]

“Our ICTPD contract has culminated in a more vibrant on line presence in the four schools and increased potential for further collaboration to enhance the educational outcomes for all learners in the cluster.”  Kate Gainsford [Principal Aotea College]

“The opportunity to be involved in the ICT PD cluster gave us a larger mass from which we could access an enhanced and larger knowledge base ...... as a result we are now in a position where it is in our power to continue the momentum and we welcome the future challenges that BYOD and other developments offer.”   Mike Webster [Mana College]

“Our strategic use of student expertise to enhance the e-learning at Bishop Viard College has been beneficial to both staff and students alike. Within our school the MICE have assisted staff one-on-one as well as collectively..... Their expertise has also been widely shared across the cluster over the course of the contract......This has enabled and empowered them to challenge staff to use these types of tools within their classroom programmes.”  Teresa Cargo [Principal Bishop Viard College]

In summary there have been:

  • Weekly workshops for teachers
  • Weekly Leadership meetings, including Principals and Lead teachers for planning & discussion; technical teams, administration staff, library staff all meet regularly too.
  • Principals meeting frequently, with at least 1x monthly focussed entirely on ICTPD
  • Weekly individual school visits
  • Fortnightly individual school workshops
  • Participation in shared Cluster events such as HOD Days and Student workshops
  • Whole cluster PD Day June 5
  • Porirua College whole staff PD Day Dec 7
  • Mana College whole staff PD Day Jan 29

PoriruaNet schools share a multi-tenancy Moodle hosted by DigiCreative; technical support provision by Aescorp; they are all now KAMAR schools and share training; they have new school websites with parent portals and links to Moodle; all our schools have/are being SNUPed and have access to UFB by cable/wireless; they share the same GMail protocols for staff and students; a shared purchasing relationship with Noel Leeming Porirua for Netbooks and trolleys etc; and plan their PD activities with the other schools in mind.

 

What have we learned?

About collaboration....

Working together is more cost effective, time effective and pedagogically rich than doing it alone.

  • Strengthening professional practice through sharing what works and why = we must continue to make opportunities for curriculum groups to interact and develop materials and solutions together
  • Strengthening PoriruaNet as a professional learning community and increasing collaboration between and across the schools is dependent on quality relationship building and will take time and good support.
  • Collaboration between the schools and across the wider community is a key driver for enhancing educational benefits and outcomes for our students.
  • The variety of resources available to classroom teachers and students in any curriculum area are enormous! We must learn best how to find what we need, share what we have, and reflect on what we do.

Reflection by Susanne Jungersen, Principal Porirua College, PoriruaNet Cluster

Goal 3: "How we have created opportunities for teaching staff across the cluster to meet and share resources and strengthen classroom practice" 

Over the course of the ICT PD contract, Porirua College staff have been given the opportunity to attend and participate in various conferences, for example ULearn, KAMAR, Learning @ School and a conference in Australia for the four Principals– all of which served to show ICT usage in International settings, and to show what is possible to use in educational contexts. These opportunities were immensely important to widen our understanding of the changes we needed to make to our curriculum design to enable the full integration of ICT into teaching programmes.  We literally didn’t know what we didn’t know and these conferences were “eye-openers” in the best sense of that phrase.

The greatest value of the contract has been all the get-togethers with other teachers from the four secondary schools - to share best practice, ideas and resources across learning areas to do with ICT. We held numerous days where the teachers got the chance to collaborate and develop their expertise in such things as Moodle, Myportfolio and the use of Google Apps. The whole ICT PD days – where all the schools got together were very useful in this regard and the smaller cluster collaboration where two schools got together, for example Aotea and PC were a highlight.

 Porirua College’s PD focus of teacher inquiry during 2012 particularly benefitted our teachers to learn further ways to integrate ICT into teaching programmes and gain more direct uses of Google Apps, Moodle and Myportfolio in administrative and classroom activities. And we made great gains from seeing how Mana College uses Moodle and then learning how to take our own first steps in using this LMS for ourselves -we have followed this up with our HoDs using ICT PD days for collaborating to develop better practice in the integrated use of ICT in learning programmes.

As a result of the ICTPD Contract I believe the staff at Porirua College are much better placed to take advantage of the Moodle and other online environments, for enhancing our teaching and learning programmes and to make the most of our new technical and physical environment.

 

About the tools and resources we use......

That planning is the easy part! Implementation (and making it work) takes time, lots of effort and a range of expertise.

  • There is a vital need for multiple strategies to achieve cluster and school goals
  • Multiple tools provide the best opportunity for teachers to use ICT more/more effectively in the classroom, as not one size fits all.
  • Sharing practice is important, so pick the tools that make that easier ...... and support them well.
  • Each cluster school brings both strengths and challenges to the cluster – lead teachers / teachers / resources
  • The implementation of robust and useful data sharing processes and mechanisms – to provide schools, cluster and community with access to online information that supports teaching and learning was really important.

Reflection by Teresa Cargo, Principal Bishop Viard College, PoriruaNet Cluster

Goal 2:  "How we have provided professional learning opportunities that challenge staff to use e-learning strategies in the classroom"

“Our strategic use of student expertise to enhance the e-learning at Bishop Viard College has been beneficial to both staff and students alike. Within our school the MICE have assisted staff one-on-one as well as collectively.  Individual assistance has ranged from simple tasks such as printing or logon issues to creating presentations, sorting files/folders and using tools such as Google apps. Departments used MICE for whole department training on Moodle and groups of staff asked for follow-up assistance with Myportfolio following an introductory session from an outside facilitator.

Their expertise has also been widely shared across the cluster over the course of the contract. This has included whole cluster PD days and a targeted programme support of staff at Mana College. During these PD days the students have had the opportunity to present workshops of their own - about sharing tools eg Moodle/ Myportfolio / Google Apps as well as some social networking tools such as blogs and wikis. This has enabled and empowered them to challenge staff to use these types of tools within their classroom programmes.”

Reflection by Mike Webster, Principal Mana College, PoriruaNet ICTPD Cluster

Goal 5:  "Using collaboration tools to empower quality teaching and learning, and effective professional communication/sharing at Mana" 

“Mana College chose to concentrate on using tools that aided students to better develop an ownership of learning and a responsibility towards that learning that could remove the physical walls and timetable of the school through anytime access to our learning resources.

We chose in particular to concentrate on Moodle and latterly Myportfolio to allow that freer environment we envisaged that would both deepen and widen the opportunities for student learning. This required the development of the necessary skills and confidence within the staff, and also the acquisition of a more compatible Student Management System, that could sit alongside those of our partner colleges.

The fact that access to cluster expertise and discussion was readily on tap and frequently and easily used through mechanisms such as blogs, forums and wikis.

It is also important to note that change needs drive, but it also needs engagement, resourcing and a commitment to gaining and maintaining in-house knowledge. The opportunity to be involved in the ICT PD cluster gave us a larger mass from which we could access an enhanced and larger knowledge base, but it also required more energy to gain momentum and maintain it. The opportunity to engage a director was a critical factor in providing that momentum.

As a result we are now in a position where it is in our power to continue the momentum and we welcome the future challenges that BYOD and other developments offer.”

About leadership.....

Have a strong specific vision. Articulate it clearly and often.

  • Start with the premise that the function of leadership is to produce more leaders, not more followers. 
  • An active and highly participatory leadership team makes far greater ‘traction’ in gaining and maintaining momentum for change.
  • Increase the number of opportunities (school-based and external) that built capability and confidence in all leaders and teachers

Reflection by Kate Gainsford, Aotea College, PoriruaNet ICTPD Cluster

Goal 1:  "The strengthening of information literacy mechanisms to support teaching and learning."

“With the appointment of a new principal to the lead school and therefore the exit of the previous director, the four principals undertook to take up part of the Director's role and to work in collaboration as a directorship for the remainder of the term of the contract.

The focus of the leadership team in this final year shifted appropriately to a focus on sustainable collaboration, founded on the ICTPD but branching out to include negotiating service level agreements with a common provider, to support the four networks thus achieving economies of scale.

The agreement of Mana College and Aotea College to join the other two schools in the cluster in adopting KAMAR as their SMS has enabled greater efficiencies in the cost and provision of shared training and it is anticipated that it will lead to increased opportunities for collaboration on training for inquiries based on student-centered data.  Both of these developments will position the four schools well for growing a sustainable model of collaboration beyond the term of the ICTPD contract.

The common use of Moodle and the recent securing of better hosting arrangements for Moodle for the four schools also contributes to the prospect of a sustained collaboration, focused on improving digital literacy opportunities for all learners.

At Aotea College, the enhanced level of digital literacy for all learners has enabled the college to plan for new developments such as a BYOD environment and the use of a parent portal in 2013.

The final year of the ICTPD contract has culminated in a more vibrant on line presence in the four schools and increased potential for further collaboration to enhance the educational outcomes for all learners in the cluster.”

As a cluster we have been daily and weekly reminded that working together continues to be the most cost effective, time effective and pedagogically rich option for achieving our goals – and have been prompted by change in our own leadership team to ensure that we model that behaviour. Sharing practice / ideas / challenges / success seems even more important as we learn more and trial that knowledge in our schools.

Learning together has the benefit, across the cluster and community, of pooling expertise / knowledge / experience within any group but that to best enhance the chances of success – there must be accountability, a specific time frame and a strong reflective element as part of the programme design.

We need to revisit our vision and be able to articulate it well ..... and often! The saying “The very essence of leadership is that you have to have vision. You can't blow an uncertain trumpet”, has been a key point of discussion at our Principals meetings. So we have been reviewing our elearning vision and some of our processes with tools that make that easier ... the eLearning Framework. Our leadership team want to be confident and proactive being able to share our goals and vision with their staff.

We also took on board the lessons learned in the first 18 months of our ICTPD contract regarding the spread of change in classroom practice/school culture. The conclusions reached from specific experiences in each of the schools included:

  • That change has happened more quickly and more comprehensively in those schools where all staff are required rather than invited to participate in scheduled professional learning activities.
  • Where professional reflection on changing classroom practice, with regard to ICT, is a component of departmental and individual performance review – the uptake by staff and the opportunities for students to engage using ICT tools are significantly higher.

...The value that staff place on professional learning is not based on the expertise of the presenter/trainer but rather on the relevance of the topic to their personal ICTPD journey and how that connects with their own classroom as a learning space. Little amounts, frequently 

 

What are our next steps?

The PoriruaNet Cluster is determined to continue working together as a ‘cluster’ after the ICTPD Contract has drawn to an end. As schools they have so much in common, both in their community and their considerable challenges, approaching their shared goals in an open and collaborative way appears a sensible way forward.

They have planned to continue developing and expanding teaching / learning / leadership / support across the cluster using the three shared online tools - Moodle/ePortfolios/ GoogleApps.

They have committed to sharing PD via a whole cluster PD Day next June, and this appears likely to now be an annual event.

The Principals’ Group and Lead Teachers will continue to meeting regularly, perhaps incorporating the technical team which now provides service to all four schools, and continue to leverage their combined ‘weight’ to better provide solutions to shared challenges.