Updated: Oct 10
by Steve Saville
This is the first of two blogs that are linked to, and help unpack our previous blog, that introduced Te Kākano model as a way of navigating the implementation of Te Mātaiaho, the Common Practice Model and “Leading to the North-East. ''
A future blog will unpack the notion of a school as an ecosystem and explain why this is important, this one though is focused on unpacking the Kākano diagram below.
The need to see these three liked initiatives as a koha has been explained in detail in previous blogs and so there is no need to elaborate on this first step here, what is important is to look into the four phases of this visual that together make up a season of change that follows the acceptance of the koha.
Phase 1: Kia Whakatō
Planting the seed
Kia whakatō symbolises the beginning and the continuous journey of an initiative; this is our personal position we take with our mahi in order to grow the seed (initiative); this is where the ground (school) has to be prepared for the successful planting of the seed; it is where the gardener (school leader) ensures that the soil is nutrient rich, well watered, tilled and free of pests and weeds etc. The conditions for growth box in the diagram explains some (but by no means all) of the actions that a school leader can take to ensure that the seed (initiative) is successfully sewn.
This school leader is very much the pivotal figure during this planting phase, and this is where a very close look at what Bishop describes as North-East Leadership is vitally important.
The leader of a school has to ensure that they have an open mind to change, a growth mindset, and that this is very apparent to the staff and indeed the entire school community. It is important that, as a leader, they see change and development as an opportunity - not as a problem. This agentic positioning is vital if they are to be able to take their team with them in a positive and empowering manner.
They have to be seen as an educational leader. The nature of their leadership must be obvious. These initiatives are educational ones (as they should be) not administrative ones, and so the school leader must position themselves as a leader and driver of learning within the school in order to make transformations happen. This means getting (as Vivianne Robinson puts it) close to the action. They have to be seen as having teaching and learning as the top priority and focus; the main thing. Visibility in the learning environments is very important here.
They have to have read and be familiar with the detail of the initiatives as they become apparent, as they need to be able to filter the tsunami of detail and provide the staff with a clear focus. They need to break the implementation of initiatives into understandable, digestible and contextualised chunks for the staff to be able to see the process of implementation clearly. These contextualised chunks need to be delivered in interactive ways, with pedagogical imagination, where transmissive approaches to sharing this new information should be avoided.
They also need to have created a culture of trust in their school. A culture of collaboration and cohesion based on a common understanding of the school's vision. A trust that reassures the staff and provides them with a sense of security and unity.
Linked to this the leader must not only be aware of the material they are introducing, but also well aware and respectful of the environment they are introducing the new initiatives into.
They need to make explicit the points of connections and work at weaving the ‘new seed’ into the existing fabric of the ‘garden’. They need to be quite clear about the cultural capital of the school and how to utilise it, and they have to be well aware of the prior knowledge that exists within the school that can be drawn on. In this way a trusted educational leader can harness the existing wealth of knowledge of their team and work towards weaving it into the demands of these new initiatives.
Phase 2: Kia Tipu
Nurturing the seed
If the ground is well prepared then the seed will grow, and if the environment is healthy then it follows that the plants will be healthy too.
In this phase the trust established is important as this is where the Kaiako get fully involved and engaged. As more and more individuals get involved, protecting the fidelity of the initiative becomes important. To ensure this a number of things needed to take place; again this is not an exhaustive list.
Firstly, the nature of school meetings needs to be reviewed and, where necessary, adapted.
Do the current meetings in the school meet the demands and needs of the changes being implemented?
Is the current, timing and composition of various meetings still relevant or do they need to be reviewed?
In the same way, is time and space being given for staff to share and collaborate effectively?
How are the staff going to be given the time and space to trial, share, reflect and adapt?
Where will they receive feedback and feedforward, and who by?
Do we need to train some coaches to support these discussions?
This can not be left to chance. The staff have to feel that they are also now agentic and agents of change in this process.
Schools will not be able to do all of this on their own and therefore the judicious use of trusted PLD providers will be a vital support through this, and indeed all of the stages.
Coaching and mentoring is one of the best way to enhance teacher efficacy and this efficacy will be vital if the changes are to be owned, sustainable and relevant for the context as it is the teachers who know the students better than anyone; they're the ones who will ultimately make things work. During these coaching sessions feedback and feedforward is vital for growth. This coaching process needs to be planned and coordinated to ensure cohesion and fidelity. None of this can be left to chance.
In the same way there needs to be consideration for gaining community voice, and this needs to be a two way process. The changes and initiatives need to be explained to the community so they are on the same journey and included, but their concerns, questions and aspirations have to be regularly monitored and listened to with empathy to ensure, once again, that the school drives forward in a united and cohesive manner.
Phase 3: Kia Puāwai
This is where the cohesion and collaboration developed in the previous stages come into their own. As the changes and developments are applied there needs to be a very transparent and open environment that is nurtured and protected. Continued collaboration where educators interrogate the impact of their teaching approaches will be important to protect fidelity and their shared understanding of what is happening for their learners in light of the changes. Coaching needs to be continued to ensure that knowledge from their feedback and feedforward conversations are shared, and the collective understanding and efficacy is continually developed.
There needs to be opportunities for teachers to share and develop their sense of agency as they need to feel empowered through this stage if they are to have any hope of developing agency in their classrooms.
Much of this is a continuation from previous phases and will continue to be important as all involved seek to find collective solutions to inevitable problems posed as they emerge. The ability to collectively problem solve and find solutions will be vital here.
Some new areas have to be prioritised though. Now the school is ready to start setting some goals. They can look beyond the immediate understanding regarding the initiative, and look at how the initiatives can be embedded and normalised; this requires looking at mid and long-term goals to ensure they still align with the direction of the school. Experiences have to be reviewed and understood as part of this process and time and space has to be given for this review as well as the co-construction of future goals.
One aspect that is almost certainly going to emerge during this stage is the need to have a detailed examination of process and learning. Pedagogies will need to be looked at, and what the learners know about HOW they learn will all need to be given time and space; as so much of what is detailed in these incoming initiatives requires an understanding of the process of learning, as well as the product of learning.
Phase 4: Mana Motuhake
And so we arrive at the last phase of the first season, Reflection. Here processes will become increasingly important as the season is unpacked, and the collective work towards the goals are realised by all in order to set and prioritise longer term goals. The next season has to be planned for in a deliberate way; taking the learnings from the first cycle forward in a process of continual improvement.
This is the appropriate time where school leaders can sit down and look at how far to the North-East they have moved and what they can do to ensure that they stay there. Alongside that all involved can reflect on how they meet and collaborate, and to unpack this against a North-East meetings model.
How far, as a school, have we come in this first season?
How have we been going towards our goals?
What problems have we encountered?
Where to next?
How are we going to get there?
Do we have a whānau-like context between our staff and enhanced relationships with ākonga?
Are interactive and discursive interactions between all making a difference?
The most important reflection that needs to take place though is around the concept of efficacy. As a school, have we moved to seeing staff and students operating with self-management.
How do we maintain this shift?
How are we seeing increased collaboration and sharing?
How are we seeing the concept of co-construction and power sharing develop, especially in the area of problem solving?
All of this reflection, all of this knowledge, will provide us with the nutrients to prepare the soil for the next season, and the bumper crop that it will provide.
The intention of this model is to provide schools with some assistance in how to accept the koha, how to protect its fidelity, and how to use these gifts to empower their schools.
Te Kākano - we hope it helps you grow.