Building capability

Published: 04 Sep 2017
Improvement in Action Te Ahu Whakamua


"We talk about growing teachers in our school."

The focus on driving and sustaining improvement in outcomes in this school involves solution seeking processes typified by innovation and whole school participation. The principal describes the approach that supports this ongoing activity as more entrepreneurial than hierarchical.


Key messages:

  • There is an unrelenting focus on the quality of teaching and student outcomes
  • The culture emphasises continual improvement and learning from one another
  • Professional learning and solution seeking is research and evidence based
  • Systems and processes are designed to encourage full participation and equity of contribution


Things to think about:

  • What processes in your school support a coherent and systematic approach to building professional capability?
  • What might you do more of?  What might you do less of?


The evaluation indicators this video illustrates

  • Domain 2: Leadership for equity and excellence

    • Evaluation indicator

      • Leadership promotes and participates in teacher learning and development

  • Domain 5: Professional capability and collective capacity

    • Evaluation indicators

      • A strategic and coherent approach to human resource management builds professional capability and collective capacity

      • Systematic, collaborative inquiry processes and challenging professional learning opportunities align with the school vision goals and targets

      • Organisational structures, processes and practices enable and sustain collaborative learning and decision making


This video is part of a series

This video is part of the series Improvement in Action Te Ahu Whakamua. We created this series to inspire schools with examples of success in action. These examples highlight the benefits of fulfilling the evaluation indicators we use to review schools.

The full video series can be found here.

Remote video URL

(A man sits in front of a wall displaying educational posters. Text across the bottom of the screen reads, “Henk Popping, Principal, Otumoetai Intermediate School”. He looks into the camera as he speaks.)


Our whole focus has been on the quality of the teachers in the school.


(The camera changes to show a projector. A woman behind it presses a button and a light flares from it into the camera.)


We talk about growing teachers in our school.


(Panning out, we see the woman standing beside it. Shelves of books and folders line the back of the room.)


And a great part of that is what Lynne, our deputy, does.


(The camera briefly closes up on a woman’s face before zooming out to show the room from a different angle. The projector sits on a table, shining a web page onto a screen at the opposite end of the room. Around the table sit six adults, including the two women already seen in the video. They each have papers in front of them and listen as the woman seated next to the projector speaks.)


Looking outward at examples of best evidence and searching out solutions to problems we find with our student achievement.


(The woman who was speaking now sits in front of a bookshelf, speaking into the camera. Text on the bottom of the screen reads, “Lynne Hutchinson, Deputy Principal, Otumoetai Intermediate School”.)


To begin with, there was very little research around New Zealand children.


(The camera closes-up on a folder filled with papers, open to a graph. Panning up across various scattered folders and papers, we see Lynne Hutchinson sitting at the end of the table, writing in a notebook.)

It was all overseas.

But now, there's such a wealth of longitudinal studies

by people who are really knowledgeable, like Bobbie Hunter and Viviane Robinson and Adrienne Alton-Lee.


(We return to Henk Popping looking into the camera. As he says “six of them” the video returns to the meeting room. The group sitting at the table continue their discussion, some of them writing things down as they speak.)


The strength of the school is, she's built a team of team leaders now-- six of them-- who are working alongside her and with her, not settling for the immediate solution that appears but digging deeper than that.


And going out and looking at other schools, for example, that might be trialling a particular type of approach, and seeing if it could work here.


(We briefly see Henk before the camera changes to a different man sitting in front of a similar poster wall. Text on the bottom of the screen read “Ben Goodchild, Teaching team leader, Otumoetai Intermediate School”.)


The whole school culture is that you can always get better.


(Back in the meeting, we see Ben speaking to the other attendees as his voiceover continues.)


I'm always learning.

And I'll come to a meeting with my knowledge and my ideas expecting to get more from other people, to come up with the best results for the students.


(We now see a man sitting in a classroom, a large map covering the wall behind him. Text on the bottom of the screen identifies him as “Ryan King, Teacher, Otumoetai Intermediate School”.)


The culture is really one of learning.

People will contribute all the time.


(The camera now shows Ryan at a meeting in a different classroom, reading from a piece of paper.)


It's a real growth mind-set, rather than: I'm in my little bubble and I'm just going to stick to what I know best.


(A woman now sits in a room with a similar map on the back wall, speaking into the camera. Text on the bottom of the screen reads “Jillian Johnson, Year 8 team leader, Otumoetai Intermediate School. As she says “in our school” we see her teaching at the front of a classroom.)


We all have individual learning goals in our school, which we come up with with our team after observations.


(Another woman now sits with Jillian in the classroom with the map. Text on the bottom of the screen reads, “Lisa Chappell, Year 8 team leader, Otumoetai Intermediate School”. She speaks into the camera.)


By doing our observations and constantly reflecting on our goals, we're collecting that evidence to look at where we need to go next.


(The voiceover continues as the camera shows Jillian sitting in a classroom, writing in a notebook. It then pans out to show Lisa teaching a class as she looks on from the back off the class.)


For example, I started looking at writing this year, and that's come about because we've seen from our results last year, that's a need.

And I think that really helps people get on board with it.


(Another woman now sits in front of the poster wall, speaking to the camera. Text on the bottom of the screen reads, “Catherine Farthing, Team leader, Otumoetai Intermediate School”.)


Every teacher is developing in some way.

And I think seeing other teachers developing and having those professional conversations ensures that you're motivated to keep developing yourself as well.


Everyone's observing different people.


(The video returns to Jillian Johnson looking at the camera.)


No one's left out.

It removes all the stigma from an observation.

It's not I'm being observed, because I'm doing something wrong.

It's very much, I'm being observed, because I want to be a better teacher, so I can get better results from my students.


(Her voiceover continues as the camera shows Jillian standing next to a whiteboard in a classroom, instructing a boy who is writing on it.)

It's about being really vigilant.


(Lynne Hutchinson takes over the voiceover as we see her sitting in a classroom with a group of students.)


It's about putting systems in place that really support what you're asking teachers to do.

That's absolutely critical.


(We return to Henk Popping in front of the poster wall.)


You've got to be unrelenting in focusing on quality, and knowing what you're doing is actually working.


(Henk’s voiceover continues as, back in the classroom, Lynne stands up asks a question. Several students raise their hands. A girl gives an answer and Lynne pats her on the shoulder in congratulation.)

So in terms of what Lynne does, it's a pure focus on what's happening with the student learning, and also working with our new beginning teachers, making sure that we're building the capacity as quickly as we can.


(Lynne Hutchinson is briefly back in the office speaking into the camera before we return to the classroom, where she smiles as a teacher stands to speak. Lynne’s voiceover continues.)


Because of our differentiated professional learning approach, you are setting teachers up to succeed.


(The scene in the classroom continues as Henk takes over the voiceover once more. The teacher points at a student and they give an answer to a question.)


It's a multi-dimensional and multi-level approach, inviting people to come up with new innovations, new ideas.

And I think it's more entrepreneurial.


(We return to Kent speaking into the camera.)


We certainly don't want this whole school looking like a top down approach.

It's about groups of people collaborating, working together, and sharing good practice.