Wednesday, 17 May 2017

The value of connected learning in our Manaiakalani cluster - Te Taiao o Tāmaki.

When posed with the question of 'what does future focused learning in a connected community' look like, the Manaiakalani cluster wide inquiry of Te Taiao o Tāmaki' set the foundation for our year 9 students to be 'connected' to their learning.

Te Taiao o Tāmaki allowed connections to be made between teachers and schools in our cluster.  At our meetings, ideas were shared and networks made.  Teachers selected students from their respective schools to quad blog with students from other schools, to gain an insight into each others worlds and see that they were not alone in their learning.  Teachers across the cluster also shared their teaching strategies to support each other to work towards the collective vision.

Te Taiao o Tāmaki allowed our year 9 students at Tamaki College to feel connected to the rest of the schools in the cluster.  Many of our year 9's had younger siblings in the primary schools and would share their learnings over conversations at the dinner table or homework time with their parents and whanau.  This connection enabled students to support each other with their learning in their homes.

Te Taiao o Tāmaki allowed our year 9 students to feel empowered when they saw their projects and learnings displayed at Te Oro, especially in front of their old school mates.  A group of year 8's from a primary school, who knew one of our presenters, asked what he was like at school now, 'cause he used to be naughty'.  They were surprised when I replied 'he's going to be a future school leader'.  When asked how he felt about the day, our year 9 presenter replied how excited he was because 'everyone got involved and created amazing projects for all the other schools to see'. "It made me feel proud because I was sharing my knowledge with everyone else and it also helped me build up my confidence".  In enabling our year 9's to showcase their projects to the younger students, it established the belief that Tamaki College could be (and should be) the first school of choice for them in the future because they could see what they could aspire to.

Te Taiao o Tāmaki allowed our whanau and our community to see the quality of projects our year 9's were able to produce.  People took the time to stop by and comment on how articulate our students were and how proudly they presented themselves.  The fact that our community could see our students in this positive, shared context created the opportunity for any barriers and stereotypes to be broken down and a more positive view adopted.  This can only be a good thing.

So when I reflect on 'what future focused learning in a connected community' looks like, Te Taiao o Tamaki fostered the 'values' of coming together as a community of learners with a shared vision.  Te Taiao o Tāmaki was more than just a showcase of projects from students in our cluster.  It was a time that allowed our students to feel connected and valued, and that they had a place in the world.

Tamaki College at Te Oro 2017 from SchoolTV on Vimeo.

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