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Scooby Doo: The case of the mysterious NLC (archived)

Introduction to the NLC

The sector leader suggested the title Scooby Doo: The case of the mysterious NLC describing the NLC as 'a haphazard group of friends travelling down the road together', who were 'just missing a few clues.' The title is related to the initial confusion for the group around how the NLC would work and what they were expected to do; confusion that was eventually resolved.

This case illustrates the importance of embedding what has been achieved, of ongoing reflection and affirmation of success, of actively seeking solutions to challenges. It highlights how, sometimes, what can seem to be a muddle is in fact an initial developmental stage, which needs to be worked through.

The Scooby Doo NLC was formed in 2010. It is made up of eight secondary schools from across a provincial region. They are a diverse group of schools, with rolls ranging from 288 to 921, covering deciles two to eight. As a secondary group, the participants are middle managers and classroom teachers rather than principals. Despite all being very busy, the work of the NLC is very important to these teachers and the reported benefits are considered to be worth the effort. Four of those involved in the NLC have worked together as literacy leaders for some time.

The purpose of the NLC is to create a wiki site, which will be available to all staff, at the participating schools, to support the teaching of literacy across the curriculum. On this site they intend to provide a range of resources and other material for teachers to access and use. Long term success for the NLC will be when this wiki is being used actively by classroom teachers.

Activities and processes

The NLC met four times in 2010. Each meeting was for a very specific purpose. Two days in the term 2 holidays were spent working with a literacy advisor considering secondary practice. This was followed by a meeting during term 3, where they discussed what they were going to develop as a resource. Again they were supported by a regional advisor from School Support Services. During the term 3 holidays they met for the third time, to begin working on the wiki. By the end of this meeting the wiki had been created and resources were already available. The fourth meeting was late in term 4 and was to undertake planning for 2011. This schedule of activities reflects how much can be achieved with a practical goal in mind.

The sector leader learnt a lot during the initial months of the NLC. Plans for future activities reflect this learning and include practical solutions to two key challenges for the group. As literacy leaders the group had experienced a high level of input and leadership from their regional literacy advisor. The NLC model meant considerably more autonomy and less direct guidance. It also meant potentially less access to external resources. One of the key future goals is to ensure that the group takes ownership of the project themselves and that it gathers some momentum. There also remains a need to ensure that the group has access to external experts; to facilitate their professional learning as literacy leaders in their schools. The intended solution is to hold ‘embed meetings’ after key day long meetings with literacy experts. The day long meetings will provide for professional learning and ongoing development of the wiki. The embed meetings, likely to be by video conferencing, will be a chance to talk through things again and ensure that the project remains in the forefront for these busy teachers.

The benefits and highlights for those involved

Working together, discussing things and learning from one another were the main benefits reported for the teachers involved in the NLC. More specific benefits mentioned include the professional knowledge gained around literacy, data analysis and recording, and how to be inclusive for students.

The wider school communities have also benefited from the increased expertise and knowledge of their literacy leaders, who have been able to transfer their knowledge back into the schools. This has occurred through the provision of school-wide professional development: modelling strategies for teaching literacy and supporting their colleagues in understanding the New Zealand Curriculum.

Ingredients for success

The main ingredients for success have been having an organised leader, being aware of what they want to achieve as a group and ensuring that the NLC is made up of people who want things to happen. Access to external experts, able to provide them with professional learning, was also considered critical.


Published on: 17 May 2011