I've just arrived home from another inspiring time at the Learning@School conference, held this year in Hamilton.
Over 1400 delegates and a wonderful venue made this a successful event for all. From the moment the conferences opened with an impressive powhiri and welcome for the Minister of Education, Hekia Perata, and her equally impressive korero to the delegates, I felt we were in for a tremendous time together, and I wasn' disappointed.
It was particularly pleasing this year to see the number of principals who had brought all or a part of their staff to share the experience together, and to use the time as a chance to capture a sense of vision and purpose for when they return to start the school year with their students.
Also inspiring were the number of teachers who had come to present workshops at the conference – highlighting yet again just how much talent and experience we have spread around the country in our schools.
I have to say that this year the keynotes inspired me greatly. All four had something of relevance and significance for our audience of NZ educators (me included) to hear and reflect on. While their styles and approach to delivering their message were different, many common themes emerged in what they were saying – some of which I attempted to summarise in a couple of slides shown at the end of the conference.
I've blogged more extensively about each of the keynotes on the Learning@School blog – with links below to each post:
Frank Green, CEO of the Leigh Academy, opened with a talk titled Leading to the Future in which he asked "What is transformational about what we're doing?" There was a lot to think about from Frank's address, particularly about how we make change in one context applicable in many others, and so achieve systemic change.
Deanne Thomas and Wharehoka Wano spoke to us about Language, culture and identity and its place in raising student achievement. They built wonderfully on the challenge the Minister had opened the conference with, and used their personal stories to convey understandings about what we need to be doing to address the issue of underachievement for Maori.
Kevin Honeycutt provided a stimulating and engaging keynote, sharing from his personal experience as the child of an alcoholic father – to his experiences as a teacher and the ways he works with his own students. He spoke about teaching as non-invasive brain surgery, and demonstrated in very practical ways how we can promote creativity through the use of technology in our teaching and learning.