Every year, principals must engage new families and bring them on a journey that spans years – even decades, well beyond their child’s education.
These transitions are often difficult. New parents, recent transfers and internal changes can all make the onboarding process for new students and their whanau a delicate process.
This was the challenge facing Lysandra Stuart (Principal, Glenbrook School) and Phil Toomer (Principal, Glenavon School) when they came to Springboard Trust.
The project: Mapping a journey
Previously, transition processes for new students at Glenavon and Glenbrook were “just something that happens”, with ad-hoc adjustments and reviews.
Lysandra and Phil had both completed the Strategic Leadership for Principals Programme and wanted to pursue further development to help them better support these students.
With help from Springboard volunteers, they established new processes to create roles for learners in transition. They developed this through journey mapping.
This entailed understanding the journeys, physical and emotional, of new students and their whanau. What they are thinking and feeling, why this occurs, and how it shapes their experience at a new school. Key steps included:
Understanding current state: How are new students and their families feeling about their environment right now?
Collecting student and parent voice: What do they want out of their new school?
Identifying and piloting improvements: How can the school help them achieve this?
The results were powerful – yet very different – for both schools.
The impact: Purposeful Play and powerful planning
Glenavon’s journey mapping helped the schools to enact clear changes to better engage new whanau:
A new communications plan that let whanau give clear feedback on a regular basis, including them in important educational conversations.
Introduction of the ‘Whanau Way’ - explicit parent-teacher conversations on how they can support their child’s learning.
Clear documentation, goal setting and reporting between learner, whanau and teacher to provide an extraordinary transition experience.
Meanwhile, Glenbrook’s journey mapping revealed a desire from students to play and interact with one another more often – thus, Purposeful Play was born.
This gets learners more excited about coming to their new school, helps them develop social skills, as well as fostering language competency and risk-taking in a safe and supportive environment. Flow-on impacts included improved attendance, better Professional Learning and Development, and much more collaborative inquiry.
Create the journey to reach your destination
Without regular review and a deeper understanding of why students and whanau feel or act the way they do, schools facing engagement issues will struggle to progress.
By establishing clear methods for mapping journeys and creating goals out of those paths, Springboard was able to help Glenavon and Glenbrook schools build stronger communities for all.