Insights from Aotearoa New Zealand: Credentialing Learning

December 11, 2018 by

From Youth Guarantee http://youthguarantee.net.nz

This is the eleventh article in the series Baskets of Knowledge from Aotearoa New Zealand, which highlights insights from a totally different education system about what is possible in transforming our education system. Read the first article here.

One of the key features of a competency-based system that CompetencyWorks has identified is a transparent framework of learning. Every school making the transition takes the time to build shared understanding of either a competency framework or the state standards. This includes building understanding of what depth of knowledge the standards are set at to align instruction and assessment, as well as building a shared understanding of what proficiency looks like for the grade level being taught (in addition to the standards above and below that students might need to or are ready to tackle).

However, in most cases, these transparent competency frameworks are primarily organized within a school or perhaps across a district. Only a handful of states have developed a full K-12 competency framework. And as far as I know, there is no place (yet) where higher education has been willing to construct a transparent framework that might extend from K-13 or even K-16. (more…)

Insights from Aotearoa New Zealand: Key Competencies

December 10, 2018 by

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This is the tenth article in the series Baskets of Knowledge from Aotearoa New Zealand, which highlights insights from a totally different education system about what is possible in transforming our education system. Read the first article here.

Aotearoa New Zealand offers so many insights and inspirations in our work to forge a personalized, competency-based system. I’m going to highlight three examples: key competencies; a transparent system of cross-sector performance levels; and the National Certificate of Educational Achievement.

These examples are not going to be easily or directly translated to the U.S. context. Certainly, it’s best to draw from NZ for ideas for state policy. Imagining its approach as a model for our federal government makes my brain hurt because of our multiple levels of governance as compared to their Tomorrow’s School policy granting school autonomy. It’s also important to remember, too, that the Kiwis are in a process of moving toward modern schools with modern pedagogy and modern learning environments. With 2,500 autonomous schools, there are plenty of very traditional schools that just want to keep doing what they are doing. Similar to the U.S., there are also schools that have sunk into the swamp of dysfunction and are awaiting the combination of community and national public will that is required to intervene. (more…)

Insights from Aotearoa New Zealand: Defining Lifelong Learning

December 7, 2018 by

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This is the ninth article in the series Baskets of Knowledge from Aotearoa New Zealand, which highlights insights from a totally different education system about what is possible in transforming our education system. Read the first article here.

Day by day, I am developing a deeper understanding about the Building Blocks for Learning (a 16-part comprehensive framework that includes everything from self-regulation to self-direction), their relationship to modern pedagogy based on research on learning, and the ultimate goal of ensuring students are powerful lifelong learners. The Building Blocks also have implications for school design, teaching, and how learning experiences (i.e., curriculum) are designed. (more…)

Pt. England Primary: The Cherry or the Orchard

December 6, 2018 by

This is the eighth article in the series Baskets of Knowledge from Aotearoa New Zealand, which highlights insights from a totally different education system about what is possible in transforming our education system. Read the first article here.

As I wrapped up the conversation with Russell Burt, principal of Pt. England Primary in Auckland, I mentioned that the U.S. was building up capacity around school design. Burt immediately suggested that our focus is too narrow. He explained, “If you cherry pick, which is what happens with many charter schools, you will, no doubt, bless the cherry, but you probably won’t bless the tree, and its most unlikely that you will bless the orchard. We need to work in such a way that we bless the orchard. In other words, we want to see the whole community improve with ‘all boats rise on a rising tide.’” (more…)

Pt. England Primary: Gifting Language

December 4, 2018 by

This is the seventh article in the series Baskets of Knowledge from Aotearoa New Zealand, which highlights insights from a totally different education system about what is possible in transforming our education system. Read the first article here.

What a gift it was to enjoy a morning with Russell Burt at Pt. England Primary in Auckland. Burt and his wife Dorothy have spent their adult lives seeking ways to improve the lives of students and families who are most marginalized from mainstream society. They embrace the cultures of the families they serve. They dig deep into the research on the science of learning, instruction, and assessment to figure out how to pull the pieces together to optimize learning. They are on a continual search for a way to organize classrooms, schools, and communities that will help every student thrive and discover their fullest potential. (more…)

Pt. England Primary: Understanding Where Students Are

November 27, 2018 by

This is the sixth article in the series Baskets of Knowledge from Aotearoa New Zealand, which highlights insights from a totally different education system about what is possible in transforming our education system. Read the first article here.

In addition to the Learn, Create, Share process developed by the teachers at Pt. England Primary described in the previous articles, another important aspect of the pedagogical approach is to ensure that students are operating at their curricular level. Burt explained, “It gives you the horrors when a teacher isn’t leveling the kids right. There are instant behavior problems when kids are working on the wrong level.” Burt asks that when teachers send students with behavior problems to see him, that they also send the Chromebook with examples of their reading and math so he can review physical artifacts about their learning. He checks to make sure students are engaged at the right level. “It can be as boring as toast with no spread on it if a kid is being asked to do something he already knows how to do or has no idea how to do.” (more…)

Pt. England Primary: Manaiakalani, The Hook from Heaven

November 20, 2018 by

This is the fifth article in the series Baskets of Knowledge from Aotearoa New Zealand, which highlights insights from a totally different education system about what is possible in transforming our education system. Read the first article here.

A little background before I describe Pt. England Primary’s pedagogical approach and strategy for accelerating learning. New Zealand’s education system is designed around the assumption that students enter school at different points in their learning and development, and that learning does not occur in the same way or same pace. There are eight curricular levels outlined in the New Zealand National Curriculum that are bands stretching across three years with the expectation that students will be learning within those bands at a given age.  

However, every educator I spoke to except two, Russell Burt, principal of Pt. England Primary, and Andy Kai Fong, principal at Haeata Community Campus, to some degree assumed that students who started at a lower level would end up at a lower level upon leaving school at the end of Year 13.   (more…)

Pt. England Primary: Creating a Culture of Respect, Belonging and Learning

November 12, 2018 by

This is the fourth article in the series Baskets of Knowledge from Aotearoa New Zealand, which highlights insights from a totally different education system about what is possible in transforming our education system. Read the first article here.

Everything starts with the value of respect at Pt. England Primary in Auckland, including the pedagogical philosophy. Respect for your own language, culture, history, and ancestors as well as the language, culture, history, and ancestors of others. Respect to take care of one’s self and well-being. Respect for the community at large. As Principal Russell Burt and I toured the school, he stopped to put his hand on the shoulders (never the head, as it would be disrespectful in the Māori culture) of students, “Are you having a respectful day?” (more…)

Why New Zealand? A Primer on the NZ Education System

October 12, 2018 by

This is the second article in the series Baskets of Knowledge from Aotearoa New Zealand, which highlights insights from a totally different education system about what is possible in transforming our education system. Read the first article here.

As I planned my trip, I was constantly asked, “But why New Zealand? Are they better than we are?”

The simple answer is I went to New Zealand with the encouragement of Susan Patrick, CompetencyWorks co-founder and President/CEO of iNACOL. She visited several years ago and found that there were many lessons learned to be found there. However, the question of what makes an education system better than another one prompted an internal dialogue: “In what way might they be better? How do we judge the effectiveness of an education system?” It might be based on academic achievement scores but those don’t capture well-being, success in post-secondary employment, training or education, lifelong learning skills, or transferable skills such as problem-solving and communication. Perhaps we could look at the cost-effectiveness or satisfaction of teachers. Thus, I started my trip with an orientation of inquiry rather than analysis.

I am a believer in benchmarking against high performance to discover policies and practices that might bring improvements. However, I have not returned with solid recommendations for how we should replicate New Zealand. What I did find was that my expectations were lifted, my imagination sparked, and my understanding of our own education system clarified.

Below I provide a snapshot of New Zealand’s education system. In future articles, I’ll be looking more deeply at the system and the ways it can help us think about options for the American system.

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Snaps from Aotearoa New Zealand

October 5, 2018 by

This is the first article in the series Baskets of Knowledge from Aotearoa New Zealand, which highlights insights from a totally different education system about what is possible in transforming our education system. Aotearoa is the Māori word for New Zealand meaning ‘long white cloud,’ indicating one of the ways the ancestors traveling from the Pacific islands could identify land. New Zealand is on a powerful trajectory toward biculturalism. Thus, when possible, I will be including Māori concepts along the way to honor their efforts and do my little bit to return indigenous language and culture to its rightful place.

I’m just back from three weeks of school visits in Aotearoa New Zealand and trying to process all that I learned as quickly as possible. Like the Māori god Tāne who brought three baskets of knowledge to humanity, I have returned from New Zealand with three baskets of knowledge. The first is an understanding of the New Zealand education system. The second is about New Zealand’s journey of reconciliation of past injustice toward biculturalism, returning Māori culture and language to its rightful place. The third basket is full of ideas of how the first two can inform, inspire, and guide educators and policymakers in shifting toward personalized, competency-based education. (more…)

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