Welcome to my Professional Learning blog.
My name is Matt Nicoll and I am a high school teacher in New Zealand, interested in improving the classroom experience for my students. I am open to trialing new approaches and hope to use this blog to reflect on my ideas and practices.

Wednesday, 12 October 2016

Welcome to Selwyn!

Today was exhausting! Yet, here I am at 9pm starting to write my second blog post for the day. It might have something to do with how invigorating the day was, despite also being very busy, full-on and requiring a lot of concentration at times.

What was it about today that has got me buzzing so much that I am writing instead of getting a much needed early night? Today, we were sent out into the community in groups of 3-4, and challenged to find evidence of the Rolleston [College] Spirit in the Rolleston Community (11 Dispositions). Each group chose different ways to go about this and, hearing from the others, all were rewarding experiences. What ultimately came out of this for me was two-fold:

  1. I feel like I have a better understanding of more of the things that make the heart of the Rolleston community beat, and
  2. I felt a huge sense of welcoming and excitement that we were joining the Rolleston Community and even the wider Selwyn District.

As soon as we introduced ourselves, the welcome mat was laid out and we were accommodated, despite not making prior arrangements to visit any of the kura, businesses or institutions that we visited. We were told at almost every place we visited how excited they felt about the opening of Rolleston College/Horoeka Haemata - Rolleston's very own high school!

Without exception, this morning's task had the theme of "Welcome to Rolleston; welcome to Selwyn!" The rain was never going to dampen this experience. Thank you to Andrew, Di and Murray for being part of a great team to explore Rolleston with!

I would also like to comment on the task itself. We had absolute agency about where we would go and what we would try to find out when we got to each place. We were in control of how we completed our task, and our own success/failure hung on our own decisions. Regardless of whether we have found evidence for every single Disposition or not, the task was rewarding and involved great opportunities. The process has been a success even if our finished product doesn't end up feeling quite as successful. That is a win in my book...

The remainder of this post may be a bit dry. It is a reflection of some of the specifics from the day - we have to put together a 2-4 minute presentation, so it is more for me and my team, to be honest! How we will turn 40+ minutes of interviews into 4 minutes (by Friday), I am not quite sure yet...


My team's first port of call was the Selwyn District Council buildings. The use of local stone on the building itself was our first motivation. We see this as creative, one of the 11 Dispositions. To me, this is also represents a connection between the land and the people.

While there, we asked to talk to someone about initiatives the Selwyn District Council was currently involved in regarding sustainability and the environment. We were already confident that there would be great evidence of another Disposition, be environmentally aware. This was when we realised how crazy and rewarding today would be. Would we like to meet with the new mayor? 
"Yes, please!"
"Look, Sam won't be free for another 10 minutes, so go down the hall and chat to someone there about recycling etc. They will be expecting you."

SOURCE: http://www.stuff.co.nz/the-press/news/
Not only did we get to talk to someone about environmental and waste issues and initiatives (who was very engaging, interesting and informative), but we also got to see the mayor on a whim. Sam Broughton has a background of working with youth and we talked about his desire to be connected to young people, their issues and their ideas. We were invited to help facilitate keeping our future students connected with Sam and the Council. A few more Dispositions: inclusive; collaborative; and able to communicate and connect.


Our team saw the relationships between the College and the industries/businesses of the community to be very important. Through such relationships, we imagine many aspects of the Rolleston College Spirit (the 11 Dispositions) can be realised for many akonga.

Driving around I-Zone, the variety and scale of the industries and businesses reinforced this. From its small beginnings, this is one of the largest industrial parks in the country. There must be stories behind many of these successes, and opportunities for now and the future.

We were lucky enough to be given a few minutes to speak to a floor manager at Tennant Engineering Ltd. He told us some of the qualities he would be looking for in an employee, and definitely kept the door open for opportunities for collaboration with the College and its students in the future.


Again, the doors were flung open for us, and we were made to feel most welcome - not just as visitors of each school but as new members of the Rolleston education whanau. Rolleston School was the original primary school in Rolleston and has grown from 200 original students to its current roll of over 800 students.

At Clearview, we talked through the meaning and background behind the school's name. The clear view to the Southern Alps/Kā Tiritiri o te Moana made perfect sense once it was explained.

At both schools, the leaders we interviewed talked with passion and excitement about the connections they envisaged between their respective schools and Rolleston College/Horoeka Haemata. Sport plays a big part in the lives of Rolleston residents, and this is an obvious potential link but definitely not the only one that was discussed with great enthusiasm.

If only there had been more time... We wanted to visit so many more places. We wanted to see students having fun in their respecting learning environments and in their respective learning activities/opportunities. We wanted to learn more about the Maori name gifted to Clearview Primary. So much to learn, so little time...

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