Tuesday, 13 March 2018

Our Manaiakalani Staff Meeting for Term 1: Reflections

During our Manaiakalani staff meeting, our COL team presented to our staff how to tackle the big 'I' - INQUIRY!  We each presented different areas and I volunteered to present a section on 'Collaborative Inquiry'. I was interested in sharing Dr Graeme Aitkins presentation on what collaborative inquiry is and isn't.  He shared two visuals and described examples linked to them.

"We come into schools, we travel through schools, we jump out the other side and nobodies changed at all, us by being there, or you by our prescence…". When I shared this visual with staff, I used a little analogy of walking through the staff room, saying hi to someone and asking how the inquiry was going, then walking off none the better. Dr Aitken calls this 'superficial' collaboration. The idea that we know about each other and what the other is doing, but no one has benefited from it - this has been the reality of inquiries in the past.

With our shared achievement challenges, we can see that collaboration needs to be more then an individual thing that we just do and know about.  With 'sharing' our challenges, the need to 'share' our inquiry looks something like this - all the pieces fitting and integrating around our challenges so that we can have a sense of connection and collaboration that allows us purpose.  Although we are geographically far apart, we as a cluster are linked with our Manaiakalani 'Learn, Create, Share' model.

After the meeting, one of the teachers in my department said the idea of integration resonated with her and she shared an example of what integration meant to her. A student who has recently joined her year 11 class was returning after missing much of last year due to huge family disruptions. The teacher could see this student was disengaged and after class talked to him about what was going on for him and why he was disengaged. He told her that it was hard for him to get back into school and he hadn't made many friends. The teacher encouraged the student to share his interests and found out that he had been in the rugby team and really wanted to play. The teacher said that she would have a chat to the rugby coach and encouraged the student to keep coming to school as he could catch up with a little help from his teachers.

After the meeting, she looked up the students' timetable and emailed his teachers about the students' situation and invited staff to share ideas and strategies on how to support him in his learning. She found out that they too were having issues with him and were thankful that they could discuss next steps. She also tracked down the rugby coach and let him know about the returning student. The next time she had the student, she noticed a change in his behaviour and found that he was calm and engaged in his learning. He told her that his teachers were supporting him by giving him time to get work down and he said he'd felt valued in his lessons. By sharing information about a learner across to other areas of his life, both inside and outside the classroom, this teacher felt that real valued 'integration' had taken place. As a teacher, the idea of integrating lay with everyone being on the same page and supporting each other.

I was really encouraged by this teacher sharing her journey with me and as a COL leader, my next steps are to support and encourage more purposeful sharing and working collaboratively on our inquiries. From our meeting, we met in COL groups and I will discuss how these meetings went in my next blog!

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