How and why did you come to be involved with Taitokerau Education Trust?
This year I was appointed as a first time Principal at Whau Valley School, which is one of the schools in the Te Puawai Cluster. I started my teaching career at Whau Valley School 11 years ago as a beginning teacher, and spent the past seven years as the Junior Syndicate Leader. During this time I have been involved in our digital learning voyage, having the privilege to work alongside Beth Lamb, our Te Puawai facilitator over the past three years, predominantly in the junior school. This year I have been able to attend the Taitokerau Education Trust meetings, meet the trustees, work with cluster principals, and see how much time and effort is put in behind the scenes. The support of the trust has provided our staff and tamariki the opportunity and resources to become 21st Century learners, allowing them to engage successfully with the new digital technologies curriculum. Being part of the cluster also provides the opportunity for our senior students to transition easily into Year 7 digital classes within our cluster schools.
What is your role or relationship with the trust?
I am one of the principals working within our ‘cluster’.
Are there any particular highlights or achievements of the trust that stand out to you?
The support of the trust is definitely a highlight, as the funding to provide our schools with a world class, quality facilitator to work with staff regularly is priceless. The provision of a ‘lease to buy’ scheme has given many of our whānau the opportunity for their tamariki to own their own device, enabling them to take the device home and continue the learning. It has also taken huge pressure off the schools to provide devices for every student in a digital class, something which is a constant strain on any school’s budget.
What would you say to parents who are considering enrolling their child in the Digital Immersion Programme?
Our Digital Lead Teacher, Mrs Norrie says it best: A common misconception for some parents is that digital learning is a day spent in front of a computer and nothing else. We focus on a balance at school, with digital learning running in conjunction with reading, writing, maths, PE, art, drama and other learning subjects and experiences. Digital devices are a tool that provides the opportunity for students to learn, create and engage in another way, both at school and home. Our tamariki are learning as technology develops so they are kept up to date, informed and prepared for their future.
Your tamariki will use their Chromebooks as an integral part of their learning, but they won’t be constantly glued to their screens! We ensure that there is plenty of opportunity for their social interaction, both on and offline. They will still do handwriting and lots of other sport and play activities. Online learning allows 24-hour access to learning by both your tamariki and their whānau, allowing you all to be involved in their learning. They will also be involved in ‘flipped learning’ which means that they learn by watching videos, giving them the opportunity to learn at their own pace by pausing and replaying parts they do not understand at first. Their access to learning sites helps them to learn while ‘playing’. Many of our tamariki make accelerated learning progress when immersed in online learning.
Why do you think the programme is so successful?
Our students are actively involved and engaged in their learning. They are part of the digital world with which they are increasingly expected to engage. They have the opportunity to use the KAR model to know, apply and reflect on their learning to set, achieve and think about their next goals.
Fun digital fact: What is the last thing you searched for online?
While not a search in particular, I am currently completing a short course online – Teaching students who have suffered Complex Trauma, in conjunction with Future Learn and Queensland University of Technology. Courses such as these allow you to study at your own pace, either at work or home, participate in online forums and discussions, watch videos and tutorials, as well as providing the opportunity to network with professionals, other school leaders/staff and external support agencies, from around the world.