Wednesday, February 4, 2015

The underbelly of HPSS

It is more fun sharing the shiny, sparkly side of things. It's easier talking about what we have done right than what we have done wrong. However, sharing our struggles means that others can learn from us. Illuminating the potholes means others are less likely to fall in them too. 

We often share all the exciting things that go on at Hobsonville Point. In fact, as I type, there is great stuff happening at our second Waitangi Celebration. A day where the students from Hobsonville Point Primary and Secondary come together to explore Maori culture. The community is then invited in to share food, listen to music and see some of the projects the kids worked on during the day. You can see more sharing about this on Twitter at #HPSwaitangi . However, you might also liked to know what some of the things are that we struggle with here at Hobsonville Point, rather than just the shiny brand new building, sparkling ideas and a general sense of fun (have you seen our Halloween costumes form last year?). I thought I would use today's #28daysofwriting post to share one of my own struggles.

Although I haven't been teaching for very long, I have rarely felt like a beginning teacher. It may be because my first teaching job was a bit of a baptism by fire in the middle of a housing estate in England, or it might be my slight addiction to professional development. Either way, in the past year at Hobsonville Point Secondary, there have been many occasions where I have felt like a beginning teacher. As it turns out, removing so many of the safety nets that exist in secondary schools can be very challenging. It means that you go back to being in a place of 'knowing the theory' but not having had much time to practice your theory. Then add in to the mix that the foundation staff of Hobsonville Point all believe in a vision and are committed to making it happen. Cue high expectations, of yourself and others. Hence, you often end up second guessing yourself. Where a lesson may have been fine in any other school, in fact, it may have been good anywhere else (and may well still be good), you often find yourself questioning whether it is good enough for our school and for our vision. You can imagine the state of mind one might be in if you question everything you do. Of course, add in to the mix that so many of the safety nets that we have in other schools are not there. There are no textbooks. None. Can you imagine being a maths teacher with no textbooks? Or can you imagine suddenly being in an open plan building where everything you do is visible, even though you are already questioning and second guessing yourself?

But then I remember what real, genuine learning looks and feels like. Do you remember what it feels like sitting in a class learning something new when the teacher is peeking over your shoulder? Or trying to answer a question and then not being sure? So you second guess yourself? Do you remember what it feels like when you get stuck and the teacher calls on you for an answer? Sounds an awful lot like what I described above doesn't it? And that is the important thing to realise about working at HPSS. It is just as much a learning curve for teachers as it is for students. There is nowhere to hide with what you have done in the past. And so, I can honestly look back and say that my mind is not the same shape or size as it was a year ago, thanks to HPSS it has been stretched and stretched. HPSS is a school for learning, for students and for teachers. 

Ralph Waldo Emerson sums it up best: “The mind, once stretched by a new idea, never returns to its original dimensions.” 

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