Reflections on Winter School 2022

What a wonderful occasion … Around 30 kaiako from all over Aotearoa gathered this week at Knighton Normal School in Kirikiriroa Hamilton, for two full days of learning in Mantle of the Expert. The weather was soggy, the setting was beautiful, the wairua and manaaki were incredible, and the ako was mighty.

We began with a shared immersive experience of Mantle of the Expert, using the opening from the Wooden Arms experience that was planned and taught at Knighton two years ago. Then we divided into two groups. The foundation course led by Whakarongo Tauranga and Nicole Antoniadis focussed on identifying the core elements of Mantle of the Expert and exploring how the Wooden Arms plan could support the teaching of migration stories as part of the New Aotearoa New Zealand Histories curriculum. This group also explored the first stages of planning. Meanwhile in the other room, I led the effective teaching course as we dived deep into teaching tools, microplanning, and strategies for critical reflection.

It’s always so humbling to see kaiako prepared to give up their precious non-contact time to come and do professional development. It seemed like everyone participated eagerly and took something away to try: a new plan, a new way of looking at a familiar tool or strategy, a deepened interest in Mantle of the Expert. It was super satisfying.

Huge thanks to Whakarongo, Nicole, Jacki and the rest of the team at Knighton who provided the venue and fed and hosted us so well. Thanks to the principals and school leaders who supported their staff to attend. Thanks to the Dramatic Inquiry Network Aotearoa Trust who ran the event – with support from the Ministry of Education. And last but not least, thanks to everyone who travelled from all over the country to be there.

If you are reading this and attended Winter School, please feel free to share your own reflections below – it would be good to hear other perspectives. If you were one of those who wanted to come but had your plans disrupted by Covid, please know we missed you and felt you with us in spirit!

Plans are already afoot for the next Winter School around the same time next year. We aim to repeat the ‘Foundation’ course and the ‘Effective Teaching tools’ course, as well as adding a third layer focussed on assessment and whole school change. This wonderful event is becoming a tradition and I for one am already looking forward to it.

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