Saturday, 28 September 2013

Megan Stewart: Learning to Love Change

Karyn’s Introduction:

Change is the one constant we are always going to be sure of. We began our first term with studying the concept of change with all the students and we have continued to accept the mantra that what we do this term will probably have changed by the following term. I we are truly going to meet the needs of our students now and in the future there will probably never come a time when we think we have got it sussed. 

Megan is the team leader of or Early Years team and as she says at the end ....Change in good.

Learning to love change

Our first year flew by.  The junior school had 3 beginning teachers and 2 teachers who had not taught full time for some time, and me.  We survived the first year.  But the second year, after really analysing our writing data, we knew that what we were doing was not actually meeting the needs of the majority of our students, and for a lot of them, we were not making enough accelerated progress to ‘catch’ most of the students up to where we would like them to be.

I had talked to Karyn about this and she more or less said, well don’t carry on doing the same thing if its not working, find something that will make a difference. Karyn is always challenging us to reflect on and improve our practice.

So, how were we going to do this?  Flummoxed, I found it hard to find a custom made programme that would suit us.  Karyn had been away and had talked to the principal of another school who had had similar challenges.  However, they had completely changed their practice and had seen significant progress.

How did we do it?
  • We took a bit of this and a bit of that and made it our own. Colleagues from Richmond School in Napier shared what they had created and had worked extremely well for them.
  • We spent money on professional development. We went to a Yolanda Soryl Phonics course in Napier. The A/P and I went to ‘The Write Guy’ writing symposium in Hamilton. I worked closely with teacher aides for a couple of days, sharing the vision and what learning in writing would look like in our year 1-4 learning spaces.
  • We employed teacher aides to work with teachers so that there would be 1 adult to no more than 7 students
  • We worked on a rotation so that all students worked with all adults in the classroom.
  • We met with teacher aides and teachers regularly for feedback and reflect on progress, what was working and what wasn’t working.

Has it worked? Well, it’s certainly made a huge difference.  It’s been expensive, but in the long run, it will hopefully prove its money worth.  It’s not perfect, but I feel a lot better about writing than I have for years.  Students are taking risks, their vocab is richer and they are more confident about writing.  I know that our programme will constantly change as we adapt our programme to meet the needs of students.

Change is good.


  1. Change is inevitable, and i totally agree that change is good. Our world is forever changing and we have a choice to either stay with what we know or move with the times. Change helps us too expand our horizons,it opens our minds and it makes you think outside the sqaure, it challenges you too think both independantly and collaboratively .

    Theres a saying "dont change whats not broken." that maybe true but what about improving and pushing the boundaries. Learning to adapt is how we survive.

    Heres another saying "Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime."

    Change is also not just about new innovative ways like new technology it is also turning back the clock and acknowledging and using what has worked in the past and adapting it to be useful in the present, which in turn will secure our future.

    Change is good!!!

  2. It is a good feeling to feel good about our practice, I'm glad you feel this too! I have loved seeing what you have done in the Junior Primary area, as watching you guys gave me the ideas and the incentive I needed to help me on my own journey. Thats what makes our team so cool! We are all cogs of an engine of change!

  3. I see students coming to Reading Recovery with improved writing skills. You, Waiarani and the students have certainly done well.