Wendy Kofoed, principal at Newmarket Primary, is energised.
When we speak over Microsoft Teams for a spare half-hour she has carved from her day, the pace of the conversation is rapid – not necessarily because of time constraints, but because she is simply bursting with discussion. Russell Bishop’s ongoing work, the pains of working from home, Pasifika education planning – the ground we cover is immense to the point that this discussion is pared down from some 1,500 words of notes.
Her willingness to take ideas and run with them shone through during our Leading for Equity event. Despite being an online series of sessions, Wendy was engaged directly from the get-go, posing questions and provocations to speakers and participants alike.
Seeing that desire for continued learning during the event, we thought Wendy would be fantastic to speak to for her reflections on the sessions – here are some of her thoughts.
Moving beyond schooling traditions
Wendy decided to attend the event after seeing the calibre of speakers – particularly keynote presenter, Professor Russell Bishop.
“I didn’t want to miss this professional learning event. I loved the notion of being able to pick and choose which sessions I attended and bring in people in from our leadership team based on their interests.”
“Russell’s work has been huge for me, and as a primary principal I found Teaching to the North-East to be very relevant to our current work at Newmarket School. To have him reinforce the importance of school culture, of a relationship-based atmosphere, whanaungatanga to the fore, where people enjoy learning – it reinforced a lot of the connection-based work we used to support our students and their whānau during lockdown.” “Russell’s style of delivery was very engaging, but with such a hard-hitting message – that we can solve these issues, that there are actions we can take.”
But with the reinforcement came some challenges, particularly when it comes to class structure.
“I felt challenged by Russell on the concept of streaming. Even if we don’t have explicit streaming in primary schools our organization of students reinforces the same ideas. But how to move beyond it, beyond those traditional school organization methods? We can do it in some areas, like with our mathematics classes – but we struggle to move away from ability grouping when teaching reading.”