Albany Senior High School
With several important building blocks already in place, Albany Senior High were able to transition quickly to online learning.
Initially they simply replicated their onsite programme online, but quickly realised that they needed to simplify their already pared back timetable even further. Students enjoyed these lockdown changes so much that some of the changes became a “normal” part of their on-site learning programmes. Their goal is long-term – to learn from the pandemic and build a schooling system designed for disruption, so that learning can be continuous no matter when and where learning takes place.
This spotlight is made up of commentary and artifacts that tell the story of Albany Senior High School’s response to the pandemic in Claire Amos’s words.
Thanks so much to Claire Amos and the school for their generosity in sharing ASHS’s story and resources that might be of use to other schools.
Why did you make this change?
Universal design for learning, responsive assessment practices, learner agency and self-directed learning have been part of a strategic focus at Albany Senior High School for the last three years. When the pandemic struck, and we entered lockdown for the first time it quickly became apparent that the initiatives we were focusing on were more important than ever when experiencing what was to become large-scale and long-term disruption.
Feedback gathered from our students and teachers over the very first lockdown suggested we could benefit from developing learner agency and designing learning that enables students to work in an increasingly self-directed manner. We realised we needed to practice for this when we were in school, so that learners could cope with the more self-directed approaches of online learning. We also needed to ensure that we designed for enhancing learning relationships, collaboration and connection both online and offline and that we would have mechanisms for ensuring that engagement with learning is tracked, so that “no-one slips through the cracks”. We also needed to review how we approached NCEA so as to maximize opportunities to curate and collect evidence of learning over time, both online and in school.
At the beginning of 2022 it became apparent that the ground had shifted and we were no longer going to all be in school or all in lockdown. We recognised that as well as focusing on increasingly self-directed learning underpinned by universal design for learning, we also needed to ensure all learning was available online anytime so as to cater for any number of students (and teachers) isolating at home for a period of time.
What did you do?
A practice run
Over the past two years, and through multiple lockdowns and then the hybrid learning of the last term, we have been through iterations of development. However, we were very fortunate because we already had in place many of the building blocks that enabled us to move fairly seamlessly to online learning when the first lockdown was announced. Before moving to lockdown, however, we were able to do an onsite practice run of what learning would look like if we did have to go into lockdown. Students came to school as usual and in each classroom, learning was delivered via Google Meets. This meant that when we went into lockdown and students had to receive their learning on Google Meet, they had already experienced it and so had teachers. This helped to allay some anxiety.
The building blocks we already had in place for remote learning
Our timetable: Though our school is fairly young (opened in 2009), we have some strong traditions that held us in good stead when we went into the first lockdown. Perhaps the most significant of these was our timetable (as below).
- Pared back timetable which includes fewer but chunkier sessions in terms of length, rather than rushing through lots of learning sessions
- Engagement in impact projects which takes place every Wednesday and assists young people to develop a sense of learner agency and working in self-directed ways
- Tutorial 2 X 100min chunks of time where we do pastoral work, talk about each learner’s journey and provide academic coaching. Hence, we already had an inbuilt mechanism for checking in with learners. These are small group (no more than 18 students), vertical grouping with the same whānau teachers for the 3 years young people are at the school
Online learning: We already had the following digital capabilities:
- 1:1 devices and a focus on making sure we used 1:1 devices effectively
- Consistent use of Google Classroom
- Really clear protocols around how teachers used those devices effectively for teaching and learning
These building blocks assisted us to move quite seamlessly into remote learning when the first lockdown was announced. We pretty much translated our normal weekly timetable into the online environment using Google Meet.
Transcript for Interview with Claire Amos. Principal of Albany Senior High School, Auckland. Interviewed by Derek Wenmoth.
I think there are two things in there that have really served us well over lockdown. The one thing is that we have what many would see as quite a pared-back timetable already, (i.e., we only have 300-minute blocks a day), so there isn't a whole lot of rushing through the day. And we have a nice simplistic Monday to Friday timetable where we do 100 minutes in each of the five subjects on a Monday and Tuesday and then 100 minutes again in those subjects on a Thursday and Friday.
So that's lent itself to some of the stuff that we've since done. And we've always had young people engaged in these impact projects, which in essence, have served us really well in terms of young people developing a sense of learner agency and being quite self-directed. So lay down the foundations for other work that we have done. We have also always had these chonky chonk
bits of time in tutorial or in homeroom. And that has always given us really decent chunks of time where we can do the really important pastoral work, where we connected with learners and talked about their learning journey and tracked how they're going, and being able to provide a level of academic coaching that a lot of secondary schools in the bigger scheme of things don't necessarily have time for. They might have form periods, which is a lot of short periods, but the fact that we've always had these 200 minutes of tutorial time has meant that we already had an inbuilt mechanism for checking in with our learners. They tend to be small groups, so capped at eighteen students, they are vertical groupings so Year 11 to 13 and they're very much a whānau sort of homeroom and they have a tutor teacher who sticks with them for the three years that they're at Albany Senior High School. So we already had, in essence, a lot of the ingredients that we needed to be able to respond really swiftly and what feels quite effectively to lockdown learning and life.
We're a school that has one-to-one devices, and we were really lucky that we have these incredible foundations of how things have always been done here at Albany Senior High School. And it was why the school appealed to me. The work that Barbara Cavanagh had led with her team and established, had role-modelled and had dyed it a lot of what I was also involved at Hobsonville Point Secondary School.
And then when I came into the school and was lucky enough to be a new Principal here, there was a whole lot of stuff that we were looking at and reviewing and we were already in this mindset. Were we were wanting to, you know, look at the great work that Albany has always done and said: What do we want to do next? What is it that we want to ramp up and level up? And one of the things, one of the opportunities we really saw was to double down on our use of technology and how that could be used to amplify the good stuff that was already going on here. So we as it had happened, we'd already had this real focus on making sure we were using one-to-one devices effectively, that we had a really consistent use of things like Google Classroom and we had really clear protocols around how teachers use those devices effectively for teaching and learning.
So when we had to go into lockdown we were already in a good position of moving to doing what we did in the classroom, but simply doing it online. So in the first instance, when we went into the very first short lockdown in 2020, was it? Yes, it was 2020 wasn't it? Feels like so long ago, yet not that long ago, we were in a position to basically translate what we did in school and just deliver that online.
Building blocks to support hybrid learning
Guidance on hybrid learning from Claire Amos, Principal of Albany Senior High School
The first lockdown
The following are some artifacts from our first lockdown which provide an overview of our approach:
Our General Expectations
- Put your health and your family first.
- Your week will be separated into three different blocks. Monday and Tuesday structured learning, Wednesday Impact Projects and Thursday and Friday self-directed learning (teachers available for check-ins).
- Check your emails at least once a day and reply if necessary.
- We will use one consistent platform (Google Classrooms) for sharing learning activities and one consistent platform for meet-ups (Google Meet).
- It is essential that you continue with your learning and working towards NCEA assessments where possible.
- Remember teachers will be with their families as well, so know they will respond to your emails and give feedback as they can.
- Your “attendance” and engagement will be monitored, so please ensure you are taking an active role in your lessons. Join your Google Meets (Monday, Tuesday and Impact) and login to your Google Classrooms each day.
Our priorities for lockdown:
Over this period of lockdown it is vital that everyone’s wellbeing is prioritised, learners and staff.
You will be feeling a range of emotions and many of these emotions will be based on your previous experience in lockdown. How can you take care of your wellbeing over this second lockdown?
- Emotions - don’t suppress and ignore these. Name your emotions → acknowledge why you feel this way → validate these feelings and use the emotion to motivate how you respond.
- Be active! Exercise and get out of the house every day.
- Do things that boost your mental health (happiness) and avoid things that don’t.
- Get enough sleep.
- Prioritise work and make achievable to do lists/goals.
- Stay connected to your friends and family.
- Share your worries, learners get in contact with your tutor teacher. Teachers get in contact with your SSL or DP.
Remaining connected with your Tutor teacher is essential. Tutor teachers will be working with learners to ensure they are keeping focused, tracking their progress and supporting individuals to find the best balance between wellbeing and
To support learner’s focus and engagement, Specialist and Impact teachers will be passing on congratulations or concerns to Tutor teachers. Tutor teachers will be holding one-on-one meetings with all learners in their tutor class, and they will also be the main connection between whānau and school.
NCEA Achievement & Assessment from Home
It is essential that learners continue with their NCEA assessments where possible. Being early in the year, your priority is making the most of your learning.
Learners, please check in with your specialist subject teachers, Impact Project Mentor and Tutor to confirm which assessments you will work on from home (note that some of these may be different than those planned for in school learning).
Note: And whilst we are focusing on continuing learning to begin assessments, it is important to stress that although we value NCEA, we value the wellbeing of our young people more!
Reflection, feedback and taking a long-term view
We approached the pandemic with a view that this disruption would be for the next 2 – 3 years. Therefore, we had to continually learn from the experience and get increasingly better over time at responding to the disruptions.
During the first lockdown, we quickly realised that we could not simply repeat online what we did in normal onsite school. It was not sustainable practice for students or teachers. Teachers often had children at home that they were taking care of and students were learning from home and often had other responsibilities. We had to pare back our delivery without removing our structures. We decided to use the first two days of the week to set up the learning for the week so that the second half of the week could be used more flexibly.
At the end of lockdown we collected feedback from parent/whānau, students and teachers. The questions we asked included the following:
- What did you enjoy during lockdown?
- What would you like us to hang onto now that we are back learning at school?
It was very clear; the students had enjoyed the flexibility that came from using the first two days of the week to set up the learning with more teacher-directed instruction, so that the second half of the week could be used more flexibly with self-directed learning. This then became part of our normal, onsite learning programme. We made significant changes to our learning programme as a result of our experiences in lockdown which continue to this day.
Responding to feedback
It made no sense to try and run a 9 to 3:30 day at home in the way that we do at school. Because our teachers were going home and they had kids that they were looking after in their own household, our young people were at home and they had other responsibilities and pressures that came with being at home.
So we realized very quickly that we had to pare back our delivery, but still using our structure. So we never, we've never moved away from the idea of doing your subjects on a Monday and Tuesday then doing them again on a Thursday and Friday, checking in into your tutorial first thing on a Tuesday morning and a Thursday morning and checking in into your impact project on a Wednesday morning. But what we realized was actually more realistic was that we started to divide our time a little bit more strategically. So we had these two halves of the week, and we recognized that what we could do is we could say, OK, let's use the first lesson of the week and each of those subjects to set up the learning for the week so that you could be more flexible with how you use your time later in the week.
And we also realized that we didn't have to start our periods when we normally would at school, that we could in fact have them a little bit earlier in the day. So by the afternoon, you were actually freed up to be flexible with your learning as well. But we did maintain a very set timetable of: you're expected to meet your teacher from line one at 9:00; you're expected to meet your teacher from line two at 10:30; you're expected to meet your teacher. So we did keep a set timetable because what we found was really important was a really consistent practice across the school. And what that turned into quite quickly was this idea that we would do more direct instruction on a Monday and Tuesday and set up the learning for the week, and that the expectation was on a Thursday and Friday that the teacher was available in that time to meet with students as needed.
So that Thursday-Friday became a bit more of a coaching-workshop time for teachers. You're still expected to be available in your timetable lessons sometimes, but we split the focus a little bit and we recognized the complexity of what it was like to do teaching from home. So paring that bit for the teachers seemed to work really well.
And then what we discovered when we came back to school, when we gave that a whole lot of student voice is they really, really enjoyed the flexibility that gave them as students as well, because suddenly they found they had half a week where they could determine how best to use their time and what to focus on on the second half of the week. And then they only had to check-in with teachers as and when they needed to rather than having to be locked into a five-days-a-week timetable.
That was making me think Claire, did that have an impact then on how you operated after that when you came back then?
Yes. So one of the first things that we decided in all of this is that we were going to proactively learn from every experience. So we have gathered community, student, and staff voice throughout the pandemic, pretty much at every point. That sort of flattened out last year because we got into a bit of a rhythm of how we did things.
But then that first instance, we got a whole lot of voice from our students and a whole lot of voice from our teachers about, what did you enjoy over that first brief lockdown and what would you like us to hang on to when we come back into school? I also was really clear about the fact that whatever we were going to, you know, that we were really clear from day one the modelling told us this was going to be long term disruption. This was never going to be a two-week lockdown and return to normal. We always, we were always planning for the fact that this was a two to three-year experience that we were preparing ourselves for, and we were going to learn and we were going to build a system that was designed for disruption.
Responding to feedback
Guidance on hybrid learning from Claire Amos, Principal of Albany Senior High School
Hybrid learning in 2022 – keeping it simple
By the time hybrid learning came around, we were very experienced at online learning during lockdowns. However, hybrid learning was much more complex and tiring and it became important to keep it simple. We had three simple requirements for hybrid learning:
- Learning will be available for everyone, anywhere and anytime. Every lesson would be available on Google Classroom. For example, live lessons would be recorded and made available on Google Classroom for anytime, anywhere access.
- Students isolating for only a week, will continue to access their learning through Google Classroom. They will not automatically have a 1:1 session with the teacher unless they do not understand something and need support.
- If more than a week, teachers are expected to provide 1:1 check-ins and learning support sessions.
Keeping it really simple
So talk me through a little bit about then how that things progressed in the current clime where it's not a case of everyone at home or everyone at school, you've got people coming and going. Where did you take this learning?
Well, I think I mean, the first thing to acknowledge is it's probably been the most challenging and complex workpiece of it all. Like, there is a certain simplicity to saying we're all in school doing this together or all at home doing this together. This year has definitely been, I think, the most tiring and complex version of doing this.
But I think our key to doing it is keeping it really simple. So from day one of this year, we've given really high level messaging going, OK, we've really got the ingredients in place for doing this. We use Google Classroom pretty damn effectively; as a school, we've been working on universal design for learning principles informing our work, and that has actually meant that we've got some pretty good sort of effective pedagogical approaches working. We've also had a focus for the last three years on becoming more responsive around about our assessment processes.
And so it's becoming, people are becoming more comfortable with the fact that, you know, students all approach assessments in different ways and with different timeframes and possibly even through different mechanisms. So again, we've had already have the ingredients in place for, in essence, being able to deal with hybrid learning. Because hybrid learning is about really universal design for learning, and it's about being responsive in your assessment practices.
So really what we did is we've kept that structure of expectations being Monday-Tuesday, more direct instruction, Thursday-Friday, hopefully being a bit more alongside your students and a bit more coaching. I'll be honest, we're on a continuum around the school in terms of how much that is followed. And sometimes it depends on the specific subjects and the topics that people are doing that goes for practical and more direct instruction, whatever, whatever.
But in terms of how we've approached hybrid learning, we've tried to keep it super simple. So the way that we approach hybrid learning is: the expectation is that learning is available for anyone, anywhere, any time. So that means ensuring that every lesson is available through Google Classroom. Where you are doing direct instruction you are either doing a live Google meet that is shared at the time or it's recorded, or you have the equivalent direct instruction shared be it a presentation or a video.
So it doesn't always have to be live at the board. It might be that you've already got a tutorial that you can share, but if you're going to do some direct instruction, you need to have that available through your Google classroom. And then the expectation has been that if you are a student who is isolating for just a week, that they will have been told to access their learning through the Google classroom and that they may not need to have a one-on-one session with their teacher. They would only expect to have a one-on-one session with the teacher if they didn't understand something or if they're away from class for longer than a week. Because I think the trap that we can fall into is thinking that we somehow need to be all things to all people, (i.e., physically present for your kids who are in the learning spaces with you and also physically present for the kids that are at home).
We've tried to communicate the expectations to family and whānau from the get-go. If you are at home isolating, direct your young person or direct yourself to your Google classroom and carry on with your learning. You know, you only need to really contact the teacher if you don't understand what's up there or it's not up there, or you need some specific intervention support. Teachers, however, are expected to do one-on-one check-ins and support if a student is out of the class for longer than a week. And so we've tried to sort of get the message that your learning is available for you anyway, get on with it, which sounds a little bit heartless on one level, but it's the key to making it sustainable. And, and I think what we're seeing starting to happen is people have learned tricks along the way. So learning to, you know, if you're going to do a talk through a Google slides to your class and in the real classroom space simply by recording it as a Google meet and doing your presentation, you've then got an artifact you can share with your students at home or they could have joined that live, if that's there as a calendar invite for them to participate in any way. And so trying to learn tricks for working smarter rather than harder, and also limitating? Limiting expectations of availability of teachers for those who are at home in a short period of time.
I think where the wheels can fall off is where people are trying to be all things to all people at all times. We have to be really realistic that this is learning through a pandemic and that actually we're not necessarily as available as we might ideally be
Keeping it really simple
Guidance on hybrid learning from Claire Amos, Principal of Albany Senior High School
Remember the commitment to delivering more directed learning on a Monday and Tuesday and then more self-directed learning on a Thursday and Friday still stands. Please ensure that you are designing for this in each of your classes.
Hybrid Learning at ASHS
- Every lesson needs to be available online regardless of who is in school and who is home.
- Train up students to go to their Google Classroom every lesson and to do this automatically if away from school.
- Teachers follow up by email if students miss two or more classes.
- If students aren’t engaging from home, work with the Tutor teacher to re-engage.
- Use the Self-directed Learning Phase One (or Two) structure. We need to support every student with their sense of learner agency!
English Department - 2022 English strategy for hybrid learning
Mathematics - Maths Dept Hybrid Learning Key Processes
Languages Department - Strategies for Hybrid Teaching and Learning 2022
Designing for learner agency by supporting self-directed learning
It has been very clear to us throughout this time of disrupted learning that student self-directedness and learner agency are hugely important to enabling students to work effectively in times of disrupted learning. Therefore, we must be very deliberate in designing learning for self-direction. Our “Developing learner agency and supporting student self-directedness” document describes our design of learning.
Designing for self-directed learning
And that's where we produced that document that I've shared in your notes around supporting learner agency. So developing, developing learner, can't remember the way I would say that now, but it's looking at learner agency and how we can do that through pointedly designing for self-directed learning. So that structure that our students enjoyed when they were in that first lockdown, we made sure when they came back into school that we kept that learning going. So the expectation was for teachers going forward that from now on, once we're back in school, we revert back to the normal times of our in-school timetable. But that we would continue to work on the idea that we need to be doing more direct instruction on the Monday-Tuesday and that where possible be designing for students being more self-directed on a Thursday-Friday.
And we talk about having three phases of that. So in phase one, it's all the kids in their timetabled classes. And the expectation is that they're really only working on their timetabled subjects in that time. But you are trying to encourage your students to be more self-directed on a Thursday-Friday, within the context of those classes and classroom spaces. Phase two looks like keeping that timetable, keeping the routines up where students are expected to go to their timetabled classes. But actually, we recognize as the year progresses that actually, we might need to be giving those students permission on a Thursday and Friday to be deciding what best is to focus on in that time. But the expectation is that they stay in their timetabled spaces with those teachers. And then we have a bit of an endgame, where we would love to get to a point, and we're not there yet. We do dip our toes into the space occasionally with what we call sprint days. Is where we say, actually, Monday and Tuesday you go to your timetabled classes and you do the more direct instruction, on that Thursday and Friday you have to check-in with your teachers, but then you can negotiate and go off and work wherever you want to work and prioritize what you need to prioritize. And as I say, we have done the odd workshop day or sprint day where that is what happens and the students negotiate where they work. We're not there yet, but one of the things that we're doing is that we're communicating that actually what we're doing now isn't a short term fix that we're simply using for lockdown learning or hybrid learning.
What we're doing is we're trying to develop a set of protocols and approaches that will serve us well in becoming even more flexible in how we deliver teaching and learning in the future. And there's a real belief that in order to do powerful, flexible learning, that you actually need structures and enabling constraints. You know, that so often where things go wrong is where we think it's about kids doing whatever they want, wherever they want. It's not about that. You know, we actually find that the structure and the routines is hopefully what will enable us to actually let the students have a lot more freedom, and flexibility, and choice but within a set of structures and constraints if that makes sense.
Designing for self-directed learning
Guidance on hybrid learning from Claire Amos, Principal of Albany Senior High School
What have you learned?
- Do less better - pare back timetables to recognise that people need time and will potentially be juggling multiple responsibilities if home.
- That you need to keep it simple
- That you need to be consistent and repeat the message often to staff, students and community
- That it needs to be embedded and part of your school vision, annual strategy/plan/review cycle; do not make it additive
- That you need to resource it, (i.e., provide PD time and time for collaboration).
What was your change strategy? How did you take people on the journey with you, if appropriate?
Our change strategy is really about developmental change management, (i.e., it has all been part of long term incremental changes in which we are working towards a vision for the future). Our “Change Strategy” document, in page 9, is an attempt to map out how we implement our change strategy year on year. This is a process we have refined over the last three years and is representative of a cycle rather than a linear process.
What advice do you have for other schools?
- Close the digital divide. Have a digital strategy that focuses on consistent use of platforms, supporting learner agency, and proactively and explicitly upskilling your staff and students to use technology effectively.
- Learner agency is fundamental to hybrid learning being sustainable.
- You can’t over-communicate to the community! They appreciate regular, informal and concise updates about what you are doing and why.
- It needs to be seen as laying the foundation for future changes, not a temporary change until your “return to normal”.
- It helps to be a school leader who sees themselves as a leader of learning and with a responsibility for future-proofing your school. Being passionate “future thinkers” BEFORE the pandemic meant many, if not all, strategies that became important were already in train before the lockdowns began. If you are working on a school vision and strategy that is future-focused, the chances are that you will be preparing for a disrupted education system already.
Advice for setting up hybrid
Well, how would you sum up some key points of advice to other schools, who are seeking to get to where you are, if you like?
OK, I think, I think there's some really nuts and bolts things we need to get out of the way first and foremost. And this is something I've harped, you know, harped on about whenever I have the opportunity as you do as well, Derek. Because this idea of closing the digital divide, we need to look at our, we need to get some key components in place before we can do all of the exciting stuff. And one of the key things we need to do is, regardless of the kind of school we are, regardless of whether we're primary or intermediate or secondary decile one or decile ten, we need to make sure that we close the digital divide by making sure that everyone has access to a device that's appropriate for their age and stage and your approach as a school. We need to make sure that we're working with external agencies and partners to ensure our young people have an Internet connection at home.
You know, there are different workarounds and people that we can shoulder-tap, like Network for Learning. And I know there is other agencies that are involved, Manaiakalani are a great example of people that have taken advantage of that. And we need to be thinking about our responsibility to our community. And if we're not in a community where there is robust Wi-Fi access, are there ways that we can support, better work around that? And then we need to make sure that we're upskilling our students and our staff and maybe even our community around the digital literacy and say, can they use these tools? Because everything we have done, all of the exciting stuff that we have done has only worked because that hasn't been an issue. We've sort of in essence got that out of the way.
And so I think every school, if they want to futureproof and get themselves ready for like now or the future, disrupted or not, we need to have that sorted and that needs to be a non-negotiable. And then I think once you've done that, it's about thinking about where, put the pandemic to one side and say, where do we want to be in five to ten years?
I worry that our reactiveness of the last two years has come at the expense of futures thinking. Because we're so busy being stuck in the now that we're not doing the exciting, aspirational like where would I love the school to be in five years' time or ten years' time. What's my vision for a fit for purpose, future-focused school that's going to serve the changing needs of our young people? And then make sure whatever you're doing is in essence working towards that.
Now, we were really lucky. As a school, we were already working on upping our game around digital technologies. We were already focusing on universal design for learning and responsive assessment practices, and we were already consistently talking about this idea of learner agency and how we were going to help these people become more self-directed in their learning.
It just so turned out that in a pandemic, all of those things were really important and useful things to be focusing on. And that wasn't an accident. And, you know, like it was because the thinking had already happened, we would have gone, the world is changing, you know, where we're living in disruptive. Let's face it, we were talking about disruptive times before a pandemic came. It's just that disrupted suddenly was in capital letters now rather than five years down the track.
So I guess my one of my best bits of advice for the schools is get your digital strategy out of the way, make that a priority. In some ways, it's the least sexy and least exciting part of the equation. But it's a fundamental foundation for them being able to have exciting discussions about more collaborative, you know, co-constructed, flexible, you know, learning taking place within your school because actually, the technology enables that stuff to happen and to happen more readily and more easily. Everyone should be looking at universal design for learning. Everyone should be looking at diverse needs of learners because that stuff only becomes more apparent the more disrupted our society becomes. And everyone needs to be thinking about responsive assessment practices, and what it means to let students share the power when it comes to how they are assessed and evidence they learning.
And if you do that, I reckon you ready for anything.
So perhaps that's a good point. Just as we finish, you're the leader in your school there’s obviously a lot of passion and a lot of vision that you carry personally. What's your one piece of advice then, your one thing that you would say to other leaders who might be watching this clip? Thinking about the change process, thinking about your position, what would you tell them?
I think in terms of it being sustainable for you as a leader, is get the right people around you and trust them with parts of the puzzle. I think one of the things that I was lucky enough to do when I first arrived here was create, we came up with and created really clear portfolios for my senior leadership team. And in essence, I have an incredible team of deputy leaders that lead big chunks of this puzzle. None of this is you know, I'm a, I get excited about the future of education. I am deeply passionate about social justice and delivering a fit for purpose education. I am under no illusion that I have implemented these changes. This has been a team effort.
And the best thing you can do is actually proactively design for agency at every level. So make sure that your team of senior leaders are equipped and clear about what the vision is and give them what they need so they can lead their part of the puzzle. Make sure your teachers are really clear about the vision and where we want to go and equip them to feel really agentic as well. I think the more agency you can have at every level, the more likely it is that change is going to take place, but the more sustainable that change is going to be as well.
Advice for setting up hybrid
Guidance on hybrid learning from Claire Amos, Principal of Albany Senior High School
So what is next?
We keep on building on our current practice to see how we can evolve it to create learning that is fit for purpose in a rapidly changing world.
See also our Albany Senior High School - Hybrid and Self-directed Learning document for more information.
Albany Senior High School Resources
Albany Senior High School has generously shared the following resources with us:
1. Our ‘Learning from Home’ Weekly Learning Structure
Subject Google Meeting 9:30
|Tutorial Google Meeting 9:30||Impact Project Google Meeting 9:30||Tutorial Google Meeting 9:30||**Subject Google Meeting 9:30|
|Period 2||Subject Google Meeting 11:00||Subject Google Meeting 11:00||*Self-directed learning 11:00||**Subject Google Meeting 11:00||**Subject Google Meeting 11:00|
|Period 3||Subject Google Meeting 1:30||Subject Google Meeting 1:30||*Self-directed learning 1:30||**Subject Google Meeting 1:30||**Subject Google Meeting 1:30|
* Impact Project Mentors will always be available for one-on-one/drop-in support during your self-directed learning time. They may also schedule Google Meetings at this time as needed.
** Thursday/Friday Subject Google Meetings will be more of a check-in, if there is a meeting at all. Teachers will support you to become more self-directed on these days over time.
- Monday and Tuesday Specialist Subjects will begin with an online Google Meet at 9:30am, 11:00am and 1:30pm. This will be when your teacher will set the goals and focus for the week and frame up your learning tasks.
- Teachers will upload tasks/lessons for the day by 9:00am. Make sure that you check the classes that you would
- have that day.
- Thursday and Friday Specialist Subject lessons will be more flexible but you will need to login to your Google classroom and continue with your assessments and learning.
- Your teachers may nominate a time when they will be online and available to answer emails, questions, etc.
- There will be a scheduled meetup twice a week on Tuesday and Thursday mornings. PLEASE ATTEND your Tutorial session at 9:30am via Google Meet. Every second week you will have a one-on-one chat with your tutor to
- support your progress.
- Check your Tutorial Google Classroom for information at least twice per week.
- You will continue to complete your Impact Project remotely.
- Mentors will update Google Classroom by 9:00am every Wednesday. Meet your mentor and impact project class in a Google Meet at 10:00am (unless otherwise negotiated).
- Some projects will have clear road blocks within the lockdown world. In this case, go back to the heart of what the project or Hub focus is - how could your initial ideas be adapted towards a new project or outcome?
- Impact Project NCEA Assessments will continue remotely.
- Retrospective time will not take place over lockdown.
2. Developing Learner Agency and Supporting Self-directedness
Important things to note
- All learners will continue to have a full five-day timetable each week.
- All learners will be onsite and supervised and supported by a teacher in all periods throughout the school week.
- All changes will be introduced in a slow and staged way with regular checking and reflecting on effectiveness.
- All decisions about what the students prioritise will be made in partnership with their teachers.
- Any students who want or need to continue working with their timetabled teacher throughout the week will be supported to do so.
Why are we focusing on this now?
Feedback from our students and teachers suggests we could benefit from the following things: developing learner agency and designing learning that enables students to work in an increasingly self-directed manner. We need to practise for this when we are in school, so that learners can cope with the more self-directed approaches of online learning. We also need to ensure that we design for enhancing learning relationships, collaboration and connection both online and offline and that we have mechanisms for ensuring that engagement with learning is tracked, so that “no-one slips through the cracks”. We also need to review how we approach NCEA so as to maximise opportunities to curate and collect evidence of learning over time, both online and in school.
What is learner agency?
Learner agency is about having the power, combined with choices, to take meaningful action and see the results of your decisions. It can be thought of as a catalyst for change or transformation. Within a school context, learner agency is about shifting the ownership of learning from teachers to students, enabling students to have the understanding, ability, and opportunity to be part of the learning design and to take action to intervene in the learning process, to affect outcomes and become powerful lifelong learners. Source
What is self-directed learning?
Self-directed learning is an instructional (teaching and learning) strategy where the students, with guidance from the teacher, decide what and how they will learn. It can be done individually or with group learning, but the overall concept is that students are supported to take ownership of their learning. Source
How do the two relate to each other?
Self-directed learning is an instructional (teaching and learning) strategy and learner agency is something that the learner demonstrates. The two are interdependent in that, by experiencing self-directed learning, students are supported to develop greater learner agency. The greater the sense of learner agency a student has, the more capable they will become of effective self-directed learning. Experiencing self-directed learning and developing learner agency will support our young people in becoming effective life-long learners.
How will we do this in a meaningful and manageable way?
We are making this manageable for both the teacher and our learners by maintaining our timetable throughout the week and primarily focusing on self-directed learning on Thursday and Friday. All learners and all learning will be supervised and supported by a teacher every day of the school week. This is important as it will enable students who need or want to continue to learn as usual (i.e., alongside their teacher following their normal timetable) will be supported to do so.
Monday & Tuesday
Students experience structured learning in Specialist Subjects as normal and focus on setting up learning for the week. Teachers design learning and assessment to support self-direction.
Students participate in Impact Projects within their Impact Project Hubs whilst being supported to work in an increasing self-directed manner.
Thursday & Friday
Students are supported to work in an increasingly self-directed manner choosing where to work and what to prioritise. Teachers are available to support as needed.
3. Albany Senior High School Change Strategy
At the beginning of Term Four, all students complete the annual Teaching and Learning Snapshot which measures their experience of the things we aimed to do in the prior annual plan.
The Senior Leadership Team (SLT) began their Analysis of Variance for the current year, based on academic data and student voice, with each DP taking responsibility for the portfolio strand. AOV continues to get updated up until the beginning of the following year once grades are confirmed.
Our annual plan is co-constructed with the SLT at the beginning of Term four based on academic data and the feedback gathered from our middle leaders and the Teaching and Learning snapshot completed by all students. DPs take responsibility for leading the work on their respective strands from the current year. (In 2020, we reviewed it midyear to respond to the pandemic. Interestingly not much needed to change).
SLT meets to review how we function as a team and we negotiate the rules of engagement for the following year and confirm the SLT roles and responsibilities for the following year. We are working on the idea that no DP holds one portfolio for more than three years.
Once the annual plan is confirmed, we translate that into a shared set of action plans that break down the annual plan into term-by-term sprints and we commit to actions that we share with each other via a shared doc. This gets reviewed and updated each term at a dedicated SLT strategy day.
DPs work with SSLs (HODs) to complete an annual report based on last year’s department goals which then informs their goals for the new year.