Wednesday, 12 November 2014

Loving Monday Mornings Now!

Monday mornings used to be really difficult. Students came to school after 2 or 3 days away from the routines and expectations, and often agitated about weekend events. Getting a learning focus established used to be a big part of our job on a Monday. But this has gradually evaporated and all of a sudden this week I realised we no longer treat Mondays as any different day to prepare for than any other.

It was a beautiful sun soaked Monday November morning in Te Karaka earlier this week. Sitting in our Middle Years Learning Community this is what I saw:

8.30am A teacher is uploading apps onto iPads while having a conversation with learners about computers and iPads. Other students are talking with other adults and each other about their weekends. Other adults- teachers and teacher aides are poring over the school forum looking at the messages about what was happening today- both in the school and in their learning community.

8.45am- when learning officially starts for the day I saw a group of Year 9-10 boys open their iPads and find the google site that lists the days workshops and suggested learning experiences for students to choose from. I hear one 15 year old say to another I just need to have  a look at the site and see which adult I need to go and work with to plan my day today. Off they all started to move to whichever adult they had been allocated to plan with for the day.

8.45-9.15 Groups of 8-10 learners are working with an adult to plan their day and write goals of what they want to achieve each period. These learners are Year 6 through to Year 10. 5 minutes into the block 12 Year 4-5 students also arrive to work in this space on their individualised inquiries for the first half of the day.

9.15-9.45 some groups of learners turn up to the middle space (we have four different learning spaces that all open onto each other) for scheduled workshops and adults come and work with those groups. 
One group is working on creating a display of a reflection about an activity from a recent camp. Another group is busy tweeting for the current gigatown competition. Some students and a teacher from the immersion class have joined in this workshop so that they can go back and pass it on to the rest of their class.

Another classroom adult is roaming around students working individually checking they have understood feedback on some recent writing about camp that has been added to each learners documents on google drive.

There are students out on the verandah writing lyrics and trying them out on a guitar.
Others are completing a piece of art.
Other are investigating their individual inquiry questions.
Some are completing a photography follow up task using camp photos.
Some are on an online forum checking the learning tasks outlines.
Others are on the forum checking the feedback that has been given to them on previous learning tasks. 

A parent turns up because her 10 year son was reluctant to come to school this morning and asks for an older boy who has a good connection with her son to go and talk to him. He goes off and soon comes back with the younger learner and helps set him up for the day.  

There is another parent who has come in to support her child in a restorative meeting at morning tea time. She s joining in with learners in their workshops and wandering around seeing the learning that three of her children- who are all learners in this community- are doing.

9.45-10.15 Workshops change over- some students move in for scheduled workshops, others move off and find a space to carry on with their independent learning.

Everyone knows what they are doing, everyone has a goal to meet and everyone is focused, but collaborating and enjoying their learning. 

A couple of Year 12 students come to see a teacher to ask if they can talk to them about an incident from last week and quietly arrange a more suitable time to come back.

10.15 a short piece of music plays and everyone gets up and puts their technology away without being asked and returns to the group they were in at 8.45am for planning their day. Learners pair up and share with each other what their goal was and how well they met it, using a number rating system and backing up their rating with explanations. Adults check in with each student about how effective their learning has been for the last 90 minutes and what their priority is for the next block of learning, and as they finish each group heads outside for a learning break.

What’s Different?
There have been over 60 learners in this space this morning. At no time have all the students been sat down and told to listen to instructions or demands. But all knew what to do. Instructions are available for all in written form online- some check these before they even leave home in the morning. And these are supported by an adult 1-1 as necessary

Most of the learning they were completing was self selected- individualised inquiries that have been negotiated with adults in various ways.

No bell rang to start or finish anything. This is because are actively facilitating the art of self regulation. 

There is an age range of 7 years. Year 4 students- some still only 9- were working alongside Year 10 students- many of whom are turned 15.

Technology supports and assists learning- it would be difficult without it, but its there to support, not drive the learning.

There is real engagement. These learners are controlling and leading their own learning.


  1. This is amazing. I so want to breathe this

  2. This sounds great - we are trialling something new at the moment and this seems just the kind of approach that might work for us.....Thanks for sharing your experiences :)