Thursday 6 November 2014

Hearts, Minds & Marmalade - Meeting the people of Waimairi School

Wow. Wow. Wow. Yes, Pam, it did needed to be repeated.  
Prior to my arrival, conversations I'd had with Mike Anderson @mikeachch Principal of Waimairi School @waimairischool made me aware I had made a fabulous decision to visit with them 'face to face'. Thank you, Pam @arti_choke  for encouraging the connection!

I think the best way to communicate the feeling I have after visiting, is to share this photo of Lynley @LynleyL and I... 
The meeting of hearts and minds excites me! 
I immediately connected upon meeting Lynley. Waimairi School has deep understanding of SOLO within their yard! We are both most comfortable sitting on the floor. We appreciate George and his scones ;-) #BothAnd #MakingItWork

I value this discussion about 'Meeting and Connecting' here between Dr Wendy Kofoed & Pam Hook.

Cognition Education @CognitionEdu made this meeting possible - I really thank you.

At the #edchatnz conference earlier this year, organised by fabulous Danielle @MissDtheTeacher and her energetic team, I won an amazing opportunity to spend a day with an educator of my choice - a seemingly impossible task to choose only one from a country full of awesome educators who make magic happen in their classrooms every day! I considered... and decided I needed to meet as many of Mike Anderson's @mikeachch Waimairi School team of educators as I could! Pam, has spoken fondly of this school, so I knew I would be in for a treat. I was intrigued by, and wanted to discover more about their use of #solotaxonomy and their literacy programme, their inquiry learning processes, their focus on the development of key competencies and making visible community connections. 
But my personal, and in fact professional, goal was to ENJOY every moment and have FUN. Because, it isn't every day you get this opportunity! I walked in with a growth mindset, ready to absorb what the day would offer. And WOW… What a treat it was!

The wonderings activated from this opportunity preceded and will continue long past the event. This post feels almost a little knee jerk reaction; the ‘See’ when the ‘Think and the Wonder’ are only just beginning! But I have made reliable predictions about the stickability of what I noticed and ‘connected’ with. I know a lot will be visible in my next steps. So as I continue to process, I want to visibly recognise my highlights from this experience.

Ensure that we appreciate the wonder that is in our own ‘backyard’ - the conversation I had with my British ‘neighbour’ Danny, on the flight down who was also visiting Christchurch for the first time returned me to this, as did conversations shared at Waimairi School,
'Connecting’ is meeting and spending time with someone - looking at, listening to & hearing them. Again - I refer to Pam's comment
PEOPLE MAKE “Modern Learning Environments” (MY definition of this is a space where learning is valued as most important and the how is flexible - the WHY is never overlooked, and all get that) Broken buildings AND visible cracks are no barriers to an MLE and quality learning happens in the face of, and as a result of challenge and change. Every element in each classroom learning space at Waimairi School has purpose and MOST importantly the people share the understanding.
Tablet devices nudging up alongside other ‘Modern Learning Devices’ of their time - sewing machines, elements for cooking - ignite interest and conversations. Photo
Sharing, collaboration and great wonderings happen when sharing food and coffee - Waimairi School invite their community to enjoy conversations over quality espresso each morning - an initiative that is evidently very successful at creating and sustaining relationships.
'Marmalade and scones' - sharing kai really enables people to connect, and backstories should be made visible... They are important.
Learning must be meaningful, fun and there should be a shared understanding of the how and the why. Waimairi school learners use SOLO Taxonomy to describe their learning and plan their next steps instinctively. And they are proud to share it - even when "it sounds a bit complicated, but it's not really".
Every classroom, every space I walked into, every person with whom I conversed with, I felt embraced. There was an openness to learning, sharing and caring about people that was obviously important.
Relationships between people are valuable. Mike @mikeachch and his team modeled hospitality and citizenship at its finest.  

I am already so grateful for the experience and I know this face to face meeting was only the start of the relationships I will enjoy with people of Waimairi School. I showed my 5 year old learners the photos yesterday and they were as 'buzzing' as I was - particularly when they saw and related with other learners their age using SOLO Taxonomy - there was a choice and they chose to construct this together. Lynley, it may not be a 'SOLO' song for much longer... ;-)

Learning and connecting of hearts and minds is most important. Citizenship matters. Kindness matters. Thank you, people of Waimairi School. I hope to reciprocate soon and look forward to sharing future meetings and wonderings.

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