Teacher Stories

Papakura Intermediate is home to innovative learners and leaders

Papakura Intermediate was at a crucial point. Enrolments were at an all-time low and newly appointed principal, Bec KauKau needed to make drastic steps to save her school from inevitable closure.

“We had just 71 children in the school,” she says.

“My first job was to consult the community to ask what needed to change to restore their faith in the school.”

Future-focused skills to set students up for life after Intermediate

The community wanted Papakura Intermediate to remain open. And Bec’s job was to reshape the curriculum to reflect the needs and values from this initial consult.  Bec also recognised that the curriculum must teach future-focused skills to set students up for life after Intermediate.

“We have our students for two years so we take our responsibility seriously to make sure they’re not just capable of being in the world, but that they have the skills and experience to fulfil their potential and become leaders.”

Bec consulted The Mind Lab to understand what a future-focused practice would look like, resulting in the full team enrolling in the Postgraduate Course in Digital & Collaborative Learning together.

“I decided we’d focus on the Postgraduate Course and do it all together as a team.

“Ultimately participating, promoting and engaging deeply in professional learning is the single deliberate act of leadership that a principal can engage with that positively effects student outcomes.”

Bec and her team at Papakura have now completed The Mind Lab course, and 2019 is about applying the practice.

“Our team culture is a lot stronger following on from The Mind Lab programme. We’ve had real shifts in our practice as leaders.  From a principal’s perspective, The Mind Lab has helped me take a collaborative but also a reflective approach to my leadership.”

Through The Mind Lab practice, Bec has instilled a heavy emphasis on critical written reflection with staff, including herself.

“We created a digital appraisal site to allow staff to be open and transparent about their professional learning and then be able to share their progress with our wider communities.

“Through a Mind Lab assignment, I started sharing my personal critique of the shift in my leadership. Staff who had been with me throughout the school changes commented that they had a better understanding of me and my leadership now.

“It was almost healing to be able to be so honest and reflective. I saw the power of sharing written critical reflection with others.”

Epistemological based learner profiles to replace traditional reporting

Another shift this year for Papakura Intermediate is the development of learner profiles based around an epistemological framework weaved with different 21st-century skills to evolve with the changing scope of technology and the future of work.

“We’ll be using these profiles as a way of reporting. It’s such a shift for parents and non-educators, to understand technology learning for example, is not about making a pencil case or a spice rack anymore.  Effective technology learning is about learners building the skills to understand, create, design and evaluate.”

With her team, Bec Kaukau has successfully maintained real progress with Papakura Intermediate and succeeded in attracting more students.  “We are now in the third year of roll growth after 35 years of decline and we are confident in our capability to achieve our school vision to be a Home to Innovative Learners and Leaders.”

“Evidence-based, professional and highly practical is how Bec KauKau from Papakura Intermediate, Auckland describes The Mind Lab’s Postgraduate Certificate in Digital & Collaborative Learning.”

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