It’s been a number of years that we’ve actually worked on building this platform of trust with our teachers, and a lot of what we’ve done was as a result of the curriculum design and how we’ve implemented curriculum right across the school, instilling that trust model of transparency with our teachers through the whole process of curriculum mapping. By having a repository of information from our teachers around their reflection, this has enabled me as a leader, as well as with my management team, to have an insight into what is actually happening within classes. That information is also fed back to our board, so when it comes to making decisions around where finances will go to support professional development, the board is fully aware of where those decisions come from.
On our board here at Pomaria we are extremely lucky to be able to use a programme called Atlas. It’s an online programme which as board members we can access, our staff can access, and it’s used very wisely in our school–it’s hugely open. When we’re at our board meeting, you can, whatever is recorded at the time, the teachers can refresh it if they are at home, and they can see everything that we’re doing at the meeting.
Kerry Anne Jackson
We all get a computer and we log into the Atlas programme. So as the minutes are being typed, we can then correct them as they’re going. But we can also access the teacher’s information, so we can look at their reflections, we can look at what’s happening. I suppose I am lucky enough that I can go into it being on the board, but as a parent, it’s reassuring to know how much extra work our teachers are putting into our children. It doesn’t just stop at three o’clock when the children have gone home. The amount of reflection that our teachers do, it just, it blows me away.
At Pomaria it’s, everything is transparent. So as a teacher in the classroom I know exactly what is happening in everyone else's classroom simply by going and reading the minutes from their meetings. I can read other people's reflections and I can also see what’s happening in the board and what’s coming up, so there’s no secrets. Another area that we would use it would be as a PLG leader to keep us focused because there are four of us, we can bounce ideas off each other and when we’ve got a professional reading around something I can see how another PLG has unpacked that and I can see if that was successful or I can use that. So I can use it in the classroom but I can also use it with teachers as well.
One of the advantages of having a hub of information is that teachers can go up and look through in their own time. So one of those aspects of, that hub of information is personal teacher reflections. So, I personally use it by going up and looking at other teachers, the learning that’s taking place and I look to see what I can use from it. The challenges as well. Sometimes they reflect what I’m going through in the classroom and at times I’m at a loss as where to go to next. So I can see some of their ideas that they’re trialling and have been successful with.
Having that hub of information is a very powerful avenue, I guess you could say, of shared practice across the school as mentioned already, through teachers. But also it’s a powerful tool for our whānau to also engage with us and to share. For example, we had a workshop at the beginning of the year and there was a place up in Atlas where parents had actually able to make a comment about that workshop and give some feedback about that. And that was really powerful because it empowered our parents to share their voice and also share their suggestions about the "where to next". Also we look at our students and valuing their voice. We have our student leaders that come from the four different PLG’s that represent our whole school and they meet once a month with one of our BOT members and they put fresh ideas on the table - things that they may be suggesting to improve our school, it may be things around our values, our PPLB’s, it may be events that they would like to have happening at Pomaria, so those are also recorded up in our hub of information and all the teachers have access to that.
But I think the most important thing for us is for our teachers to continually to be reflective and how they can look at changing their practice or shifting what they are doing, so their children's achievement will improve within their classes and inevitably right across our entire school.