Am I Done

 

I wrote this post at the end of last year. I have no idea why I didn’t post it. Maybe because it is so honest. I have returned this year thoroughly refreshed, ready for a new start and have a strong focus of not allowing my work to crush me in the way I felt at the end of last year. I felt crushed as a person and as an educator. As the school year ended I headed over to England to be with family to celebrate christmas, new year, a wedding and to farewell a dear person in my life who had passed. As I was driving to the airport, I didn’t have a song in my heart, I wasn’t excited about my new adventure or could I smile. Then I got a work email which shook the ground I walked on. Why was I even looking at my work emails, I do not know. The person who sent it had been giving me grief for a couple of days. The content of the email  was unnecessary, it wasn’t important, life changing or would make a difference if I had sorted it that day or in the New Year. I felt miserable and I shouldn’t have. I remember the moment when I felt some excitement about my journey, it was about 1.30am just as I was walking towards my plane. I took a photograph of my cabin bag and neck cushion in the airport bar and wrote ‘finally excited about my trip’.

I hope this year ends on a better note and I walk away from here with a skip in my step and song in my heart because I wont be able to do that again.

December 13, 2015

Ok, I have a confession I am really bad at keeping my blog up to date. I have many excuses and none worthy of putting up here. I am not going to make any resolutions about how I am going to improve this as this will just add more stress to an already flat out stressed human being.

It is seriously a tough journey in education at the moment because of the need for massive change to raise student achievement, a complete pedagogical shift and system changes to support all of this. We should be winding up and celebrating our year except we are not, we are too exhausted and have lists of things to do before we can pack up and go home for the year.

Change is so important  to help reach each students potential and raise their achievement levels in a personalised, authentic way. There is so much that goes with this, along with teaching our students how to operate in a new environment where their voice is much more important than it ever has been. I celebrate this. It is hard however to celebrate my profession when it drains me and makes it so hard to find a balance between work and my family life. We, in the profession, are terrible at looking after ourselves in even small ways  like having lunch, sitting down in a place that comforts us. A relaxing morning tea and lunch is rarely possible. Then we have the added distraction of a media and government who don’t support or celebrate the efforts put in by so many amazing individuals.

It makes me rethink my position and whether I want to continue doing the work I do. This was particularly highlighted to me when I watched my neighbour being carried away in an ambulance because he was seriously ill. Life is so short, how do we take care of ourselves in this profession. We all know what we need to do. We just don’t do it.

Anyone reading this blog, who is not in education, will not empathise with a teacher feeling this because of the so called school holidays. I would not be able to do this job without the holidays, this is a time when my family find their mum, grandma and partner and receive quality and quantity of time with her. A person who is able to do the things that makes her a whole person, the right person the authentic person that I strive daily for my students to be the same. I also work a great deal in this so called holiday.

I don’t know the answer. What I do know is that I will try for another year and see how this goes. We are doing amazing things in my school and student achievement is at the heart of it. We are also building the capacity of our relationships with our Maori families. These are things to celebrate.

Maybe I am just burnt out and done.

 

Melanie M

 

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Fuel for Success

Leadership Values and Beliefs

My Leadership Values and Beliefs as they are today demonstrate a great deal of growth and understanding from me. My journey this year has at times being challenging as I have questioned myself about being a leader and becoming a principal. I basically missed having the responsibility of my own classroom and the rewards that brings. When I was challenged on this I decided that being a leader of learning was a priority for me. This gave me more focus and direction and less distraction and confusion about what the hell I was doing.

My Leadership Values and Beliefs

  • Grow leaders in teachers and students
  • Build capacity in making a difference and leading change
  • Provoke the thinking of the leaders around me with innovative practice and pedagogy
  • Identify, understand and value the aspirations of my learning community with a particular focus on our Maori community and increasing the achievement of our akonga

More Surprises

More reflection on my 2015 professional inquiry

At one point this year our teachers felt like they were in the pit and were struggling with some of our student’s  not managing themselves in this environment. As a team we thought that it would be time to define the different types of learners we had in our collaborative team. We decided we had three types and lined this up with the SOLO framework. The teachers also had discussions with the students and students identified where they belonged. Within this SOLO framework

Multi structural – Managed Learners

Relational – Self Managed Learners

Extended Abstract – Self Directed Learners.

The three are distinctively different and require a level of skill to work within. These skills need to be taught, modelled and practiced daily for them to become part of a daily routine. This is a work in progress.

The teachers identified our managed group as having all our target students and also complained that these students were disrupting the class by being noisy, off task, disorganised and often destructive of a breakout space we had available to the students.

I had a discussion with these students –  In a summary the target/managed students thought it was the rest of the class that was disrupting their learning by being noisy and off task, they wanted quiet spaces to go to and they wanted their teacher to be available more for them to talk to, they made reference to their teachers time always being taken up with the others students who were being, in their words, ‘naughty’. They also thought that they would be more comfortable with the teacher telling them what to do instead of having to write their own timetable. This surprised all of us and immediately things were put in place to support these learners – a managed timetable was created and time each morning was given to them to explain what the timetable was for the day and also gave them a chance to make decisions about their day with their teachers support. The teachers also ensure these students are listened to more consistently and were given them positive specific praise, praising them for the behaviours the students identified they needed to work on. When they get distracted they are to do what our group Expert, Harry, said he does

‘Ignore and focus on what I am Doing’

So even though we are aiming for student agency for our learners we know this will be at different levels for all of them.

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Pondering my Changed Role

My teaching role in school has changed this year. I am releasing our teachers for their CRT and some Management release. I was looking forward to doing something different and thought maybe releasing teachers would give me more time to think about my leadership role, NAPP and the VPLD. Oh boy! I was very wrong. I have found it tough, I feel like an impostor.

As I sat and pondered this over the weekend, I attributed this feeling of being an impostor to the fact that I have always had the responsibility of some students. Students whom I built relationships with, whom I got to know their learning ups and downs and built on these. This is so empowering and the very reason why I love my job.

So what! Now What! I pondered. In that moment, I realised,  what I was now being given was an opportunity to have more random fun with the students, develop skills, strategies and try random stuff they may use to create, collaborate or communicate with. My big focus with these students is to be creative, collaborative and start to curate rather than just consume when using digital devices.. Best of all I get to practice the things I love doing with students,  geeking out with technology. Even better, I get to give teachers the gift of time to ponder their classrooms. Time is the most precious gift to give teachers in Term time.

So now I need to rethink my time in classrooms,  not as a babysitting service,  as a time to get to know more students, challenge students with stuff  like messy maths, creating photos with words, singing, reading, writing poetry, using thinking maps, collaborative spaces, independent skills, working with digital devices to create artefacts, learn to draw mind-craft creepers, listen to the Kid President (I am a big fan).

Now it is time to have fun!

Enjoy the privilege of being able to give teachers something they treasure, time.

New Start!

Kotahitanga

This is a post I wrote in February. I was waiting for permission from the artist of the illustration to include it in my blog. I received permission but neglected to post to my blog. Hope you enjoy it dated as it is!  

I approach the start of a new school year full of excitement and nerves at the anticipation of new students and new ideas. I often start the year with things I want to do different. This year was no exception.  I spent a lot of time in the holidays reading blog posts and books about digital learners  and listening to Ken Robinson on ‘Out of our Minds’.  It is a time of great change in our approach to pedagogy – the science of teaching – due to the needs of our learners. I approach it with a keen, green interest. 

My first week was WOW! This year I have been given the opportunity to work with 13 students in a year 5/6 group which is amazing because I normally start my year with 25 plus and last year I ended with 33 students.  Therefore the WOW!  

Our school wide theme for term one 2012 is Kotahitanga. This is about belonging, unity, harmony and oneness, a recipe for a great team of learners. We spent our first two days ‘Getting to know each other’ which is a key ingredient for Kotahitanga.  Our learning became all about creating our own personal narrative through a number of cooperative and learning buddy activities-

After reading a blog post from Allanah King    II thought ‘what my teacher needs to know about me’ would be a great way to get to know my new students so I set this task for home learning. The following morning after setting the task I was pottering around the class talking to the students when one of my boys asked if we could share our 5 things. When I asked had anyone else completed the task they all handed me their books.  The student’s ideas really struck a chord with me because it was evident that some of the ideas I had been reading about over the holidays was thriving in my students.  Check them out for yourselves

I wrote my own thoughts on what my teachers needed to know about me:

 1. Get to know me.

 2. Involve me.

 3. Share me with the world

 4. Give me time

 5. Encourage and support me to take risks. Mistakes and failures are my friends.

My keen, green ideas have led me to start my year with a project to base the learning tasks and activities around.

Project:

To design and create an ideal learning environment inside and outside the classroom that is inclusive of all individuals and groups.

This design will include a resource that can be used by the Broadlands and Global Communities to enable a better understanding of Kotahitanga in our world community.

I have made this change based on a few of the ideas I have been exposed to over the holidays. I don’t know if it is the correct thing to do but I am willing to challenge myself and find out what will work for my students.

 Our ingredient for Kotahitanga next week is going to be Managing Self. This, I believed fitted in well with the students becoming independent learners as they make choices about the tasks they are going to complete during independent learning time. I envisage the independent learning time becoming a big part of their day as they work through tasks, by choice, based on our project and those set by me, based on next learning steps and individual needs.

Is anyone else starting with fresh ideas and challenging themselves with how they approach the learning this year? I would love to hear from you. 

Photo by  Thomas Lauterbach

KOTAHITANGA means ‘coming together, be one’ .

A painting I did in the 90’s, when there was a desperate need for change in attitude in regards to race realations. But New Zealand since has come a long way as a country – and we have to accept, that we still have a long way to go. But race relations have improved – we are on our way to KOTAHITANGA.

naureira tenei te mihi ki a koutou, mihi mai – mihi mai – mihi mai