Monday, April 25, 2016

Learning Innovation

Our second visit was a bonus as it was not on our original itinerary. We went down the road to Mililani Waena Elementary School and the management team, in the absence of the principal Dale Castro, at very short notice put together an amazing learning experience for us.  We spent time with Sean Takashima , Catherine Upton and Barron Iwamura  - the VPs - who shared with us the school Vision, Mission and Beliefs about learning.


Mililani Waena is a Character Counts school. They promote the 6 Pillars of Character -- Trustworthiness, Responsibility, Respect, Fairness, Caring, and Citizenship. We have seen this in action at Pt England school when Michelle George introduced it to her class.


Despite the cultural, socio economic and geographic differences, there was an instant connection with the learning and teaching happening in this school. These children all have a MacBook Air as their personal learning device (they received a $1 million grant to purchase technology!) and the school has a strategic approach to implementing digital learning environments. We greatly appreciated their open invitation to walk into classrooms and talk to children about their learning. This turned out to be one of the few occasions this happened during the week. Teachers were co-teaching and had created modern learning environments out of traditional learning spaces. This slide will look very familiar to Manaiakalani teachers.


I particularly enjoyed hearing about the specialist position they have created titled “Learning Innovation Specialist”. It sounded very similar to roles I have occupied.  While it clearly involves leading technical innovation, the role is better defined and empowered by using “learning” rather than “digital” terms.


It was testing week in Hawaiian schools, including OECD tests for PISA, so everywhere we went during the week we encountered quiet areas where children were sitting in rows writing exams. Mililani Waena has a set of scooters for testing week that children can use to let off steam after taking an exam!

Cross posted here