Monday, 8 February 2016

To hub or not to hub: Engaging parents & Empowering learners

I recall how excited my colleagues and I were when we spotted the giant 'hub' sign in the domestic terminal at Christchurch Airport. We were on our way to attend the Catholic Education Convention in Wellington and were transferring to another flight. The giant, illuminated sign generated a rich discussion around the benefits of our new learning spaces. 
Hub at Christchurch Airport, New Zealand
At the start of 2015, we welcomed families into our Engaging Learning Spaces (ELS). Our traditional classrooms were creatively transformed into collaborative, engaging learning spaces.
To help children, staff and parents understand the collaborative nature of these ELS, we introduced the word 'hub' to replace the word 'classroom'. Most dictionaries define a 'hub' as 'a centre of activity'. Different schools have adopted different names such as pods, caves, hubs and hives. We settled for hubs: Junior Hub 1 ( NE, Yr 1), Junior Hub 2 ( Yr 2, Yr 3), Senior Hub 1 ( Yr 4, Yr 5), Senior Hub 2 ( Yr 6, Yr 7, Yr 8)
It's important to understand the word hub refers to the physical location of the classes. Classes are not mixed together in the hubs like the traditional composite model. Year groups still maintain their unique identity with a dedicated year group teacher.
The word 'hub' does not define the way we plan or teach. It is a way to locate year groups across the school, just like the convenience store at the airport. The way we plan and teach can be more readily described by the word 'collaborative'. 
I am fortunate to have experienced teaching in a range of settings and countries for thirty-five years. During that time, I have been part of traditional, open plan, montessori and jena plan classrooms and schools. Each worked in its own way and addressed the learning needs for the learners at the time. The one constant that made all of these learning environments successful, was enthusiastic and passionate educators, focussed on achievement and success for all. 
Our curriculum goal for several years has been: To engage our learners in deep learning for success. During this time, we dedicated time to inquiring into our teaching practice, talking with our learners and studying research around engagement. This theme was the focus of my sabbatical study in 2014. We are a team of professionals. When we come together as a collaborative team and genuinely discuss how to make a positive difference for the children we teach, we bring together our combined experience and expertise. For example, if we combine the teaching experience of all of our teachers, we share 200 years of experience. Imagine the rich, educational discussions we have when we come together. Similarly, when two teachers combine their knowledge and expertise, they enrich the teaching and learning opportunities for the learners in the ELS.

Quote from @gcouros George Couros. You can read more here.
Five simple ways parents can support teachers
As parents and first educators for children, teachers need parent's support.
1.Take time to explore the Teaching and Learning site with your children. Our teachers have willingly shared their planning.
2. Be purposeful and positive about actioning the ways you can support your children and ask your child or their teacher if you can't understand anything.
3. Help your children to get to school well before 9 o'clock so they can settle and prepare for the day ahead.
4. Smile and show you appreciate the efforts your child's teachers make. Children can sense negativity and thrive in a positive, loving environment. Our teachers are all passionate about teaching and we want them to share their love for learning with your children.
5. Make time to have a chat with your child's teacher if you have any worries. It's better to arrange a dedicated time when the teacher is free. We like our teachers to be in hubs, mingling with the children, relationship building between 8:30-9:00.

To hub or not to hub. It's time for parents to move the focus from the 'hub' and to genuinely engage with the authentic learning opportunities available for children in the ELS. In 2016, we are already moving from engagement to empowerment for our learners. Let's all be empowered as we work together to help our children succeed to be the best they can be in all they do.

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