Monday, 27 March 2017

#E2 Toronto Day 2 Keynote

I was so excited this morning. We arrived in the conference room and our OneNote Avenger capes were on the chairs! I know this sounds odd, but I have wanted one of these capes ever since I saw them a couple of years ago. I am a real OneNote fan and this just made my day!
Yet more notes today from some great sessions.

The Keynote was live around the world this morning and I know there were some crazy kiwis up at 2a.m. to watch it! Anthony Salcito (Vice President of Worldwide Education, Microsoft) was first to speak and he started by talking about there being four Industrial Revolutions, with the fourth being the Digital Revolution and then he related these to four digital ones.
1st revolution of digital tech: Fuelled by passionate pioneers. Brought devices into classrooms and created comp labs. Saw potential in technology.
2nd revolution was fuelled by the first group. Countries saw tech as part of future. Device to each student. Led to lots of disconnect between pedagogy and the classroom.
3rd revolution reassessing what is most important. How do we reduce risk and prepare teachers?
Some schools still in 1st or 2nd revolution stage
How do we fuel student passions? How can we drive better learning outcomes in the classroom?
4th revolution. Making tech invisible in and out of the class. Shifting tech around skills. Think collaboratively, using creativity prepares them to make things real and make an impact.
He likened schooling to travelling on a train, everyone's view is the same. Everyone was going to same stop. The only variable was the grade. Technology enables students to travel any way. Resources are limitless. Time is the variable. Mastery of skills is the progression point.
We need to get students on a personal learning path for their own future.
The role of an innovative educator is to expand their knowledge and embrace the learning of life beyond the classroom. Microsoft is working to lower the price of technology and make it easier to support. They are also keen to push the upper end with devices such as the Surface Studio (I so want one), improving tools for creativity. He says we are on the precipice of real change.
The WE team works on embracing service based learning and how youth can change the world. So far there are over 10,000 schools involved. Students are given tools and inspiration to take action and make a difference. Watch WE are one. There is also a We Are One OneNote to help with this initiative. This looks really interesting and I am certainly going to look into it further to see if Haeata could or should become a WE school. One school that has embraced this is Queen of Heaven Elementary School where their students are working to help improve access to education for young people in developing countries.

Some of the things Microsoft has been working on recently:

Minecraft has been an amazing tool that has been worked on and he mentioned Meenoo Rami’s book called Thrive. See notes on her talk later in this post.

This is a programme that helps support thinking in 3D. There are tools to help with 3D printing and to plug in IED software as well. Looks amazing!

Index Content for search engines
Search engines are natural for kids so they are looking to make this even easier by indexing the content, which you can see some examples of in Bing and it’s use in Word.

Word and cognitive services
They have already improved in this area by adding more features to Ink to Word. The replay feature is great, being able to watch what has been added in order. You can circle text and right clicking will bring up a menu to use with that text. You can also right click a highlighted word and choose smart lookup which is a research tool that embeds Bing into Word. Love this feature! He gave us an example of a document about the Bay of Pigs, highlighted the word pigs which brought up research on the Bay of Pigs rather than the animal. Yet in another document on animals when the word pigs was highlighted, it brought up the animal. Very clever. You can also right click on a word and go to spelling which gives spelling, synonyms, and can read the word aloud.

They have introduced Quick Starter technology where you can choose a topic such as the solar system and then you choose starter slides from which you can create work to present quickly. References automatically come in as you select pictures or text to import.

There is now a help button that enables you to find the content you want quickly. There are always new courses being put up and lots of lessons that are shared. There is also a Make What's Next badge – the theme of E2.

You can ask questions and get answers from the website right away without having to search.

An open flexible cloud-based platform.

When using video it can often be too large. Need to be able to index content. With this, you can find relevant places in the video, it recognises people so you can search for them and it creates a transcript. You can index key words and it has speech sentiment built in so you can get an idea about how the speaker is feeling. He showed us a video of International women's day 2016 what are you going to make1080 which asked students about famous inventors. They all named males and when asked to name females, the speech sentiment changed. It was really interesting for negative vs positive recognition.
His closing remarks summed up all of this really well:
Change is happening incredibly fast
MeenooRami from Microsoft’s Minecraft team, spoke to us about how educators can motivate, inspire and ignite a passion for learning in every student by using Minecraft. The world that our students inhabit is shifting rapidly and she asked how do we help our students become the leaders and learners in this moment?
She gave examples of some educators using Minecraft in innovative ways:
John Miller inCalifornia. Took folk tales and recreated moments in Minecraft. The students recorded the retelling of the stories on video. Students get to communicate across states.
Katja Borregaard and MikkelMadsen is teaching communication, collaboration and critical thinking in Minecraft.
She said the best educators never stop being learners. They are not afraid to meet what the students are doing. They take passion and turn it into powerful learning.
Steve Isaacs never stops trying new things. He turned Rapunzel into a quest. Minecraft a tool to allow students to show their thinking and their imagination. We learn best when we learn in communities and people around us push us to be better.
Minecraft is great for trying to solve a problem. Students place blocks and break blocks in a visual way to solve problems. This immersive 3D world creates a buzz with students sharing and learning.
Daniel McDuff, a researcher at Microsoft who spoke at TEDx Berlin, told us about affective computing. This is where technology can understand facial expressions and read student emotions. This can help educators gain an understanding of student experiences via moment-to-moment tracking of cognitive and emotional states. Typically we interact through keyboards but great experiences are multi sensory and multi modal. Capturing information about memory, decision making, communication, and wellbeing is important. Faces convey the experience people are having and they are working on automatically coding this info. Look at a face, analyse and interpret. They look at gestures, the physiology, facial coding acknowledging  as well that it is important to understand context and who the computer is working with. This software means they can tell if facial expressions change so you can tell if the work is boring, exciting or if the student is happy or sad.
It gives the ability to provide people who teach remotely the feedback of how people are taking the information if they switch on their webcam to capture responses during content delivery. This means teachers can make changes as they teach if the student is puzzled or confused. It could also help with the flipped classroom, as you can tell if students have got it and can move ahead. Also, you could pick up anxiety about it. This also means that it can capture aspects of your emotions and tailor the experience for you. They have been working with Hololens to visualize information in real time and I managed to see this in action later in the day. Another thought I had was around students with difficulty reading expression, where one day they could maybe have some glasses that can help read other peoples emotions.
Mike Tholfsen (aka Mr OneNote) then spoke about his top 10 tips for OneNote. His presentation is here.
OneNote is free on every device and every platform and is an amazing programme saving time, helping with organisation and collaboration. I am a big OneNote fan and they just keeping improving it all the time. These were his top 10 things he likes:

1:  Class notebook - class notebook works with a range of LMS around the world so that grades can be put straight in.
2:  Added stickers for teachers to use
3:  You can embed cool things such as geogebra, quizlet, soundcloud, sway
4:  A quick hack. How to quickly make pages – make a table, right click and choose “link to page” and it will automatically make pages for each name in list
5:  Staff notebook – they have a vision for Professional Learning Criteria in this. They have also created help for your Professional Learning Community (PLC). It is in the waffle. If you go to New Group in office 365, create group and choose PLC group you get a notebook with templates.
6:  Export class notebook – really handy when you want to save a copy - right click in your list of notebooks and “save a copy”.
7:  Learning Tools are now built into the online version, also free with word online. Love the Learning Tools!
8: Windows 10 version of OneNote has rainbow ink, fun with ink and reversible ink where you can playback the order of what they did. It’s called Replay when you are looking for it.
9:  Ink to Math – this is great and can even generate graphs automatically.
10:  Writing prompts – this is brand new out this week – – A great tool for students wanting ideas for their writing.

Some other great things about OneNote (I could go on forever):
- students self-assessing with templates in one note
- give feedback and give support from parent educator like a teacher aid. Don't have to sit next to them if they get embarrassed by that, they can work on the same book at the same time
- Giving feedback by video

What a session – only 2 hours into the day and we were filled with ideas and possibilities. I loved that this was streamed live so other educators around the world could drop in on a part of #E2. Hopefully this will inspire them to be the best they can be and maybe be a part of the Microsoft Innovative Educator network.

Wednesday, 22 March 2017

#E2 Toronto Day 1

Crazy day at #E2 today. It started with an amazing breakfast in the ballroom (strange place to have breakfast) where I sat with the team from Britain. Really interesting having a chat with them and finding out how their schools worked over our bacon and eggs and fruit. My next chat was with an MIE Expert from Khazakstan. I found out where Khazakstan is (which I didn't really know) and also that the capital is Astana, which is where he was from. It's fascinating finding out about other people and the countries - great for my poor geography skills!
These are my notes so they are often in shorthand. Don't expect great grammar!


The morning started with a performance by the Mini Militia, a local dance group who use the passion of art and dance to empower them in their lives.
 They were a really energetic and cute crew who wowed the crowd with their break-dancing skills. We were told that there were 240 educators from 83 countries at the conference and that we had travelled 1.7 million miles to get there! Marc Seaman, the National Director of Education and Public Affairs fro Microsoft Canada welcomed us and Reza Moridi, the Canadian Minister for Research, Innovation and Science shared how innovation and Science are critical to our future. He asked "How do we prepare students for a world that is constantly changing?" He mentioned that fewer and fewer jobs are untouched by technology and reminded us about so many jobs that were not possible in the past are now a reality, like an AI Engineer. 
John Meyers, the President of Edsby, a cloud-based platform for schools, spoke about the difficult job that teachers have. He reminded us that parents can get confused when teachers all use different tools so it is important for a school to have the same tools right throughout. He also said that social media was a good way to communicate with parents and students.
Lisa Anne Floyd spoke to us about STEM and computational thinking. She said that learning about algorithms and software can improve every area. We can write algorithms if we learn how to code. Failing is ok. Errors always happen. This helps us with all of our learning if we can learn the skills. Failure to programmers is just a minor setback. It's a first attempt in learning. Learn to code for transferable skills. Algorithms need to be diverse and culturally rich so everyone needs to write code. We need to expose all students to coding. Coding can enhance mathematical concepts. She showed us a few quotes from George Gadanidis and his website looks great. is a great resource and you should check out the Microsoft imagine website. She talked about curiosity, empathy and creativity needing to be there as well as computational thinking and suggested we go from multi tasking to multi asking across cultures and ages. She uses Skype to spark curiosity and asked the question:

"How can you help your students to be creators of future miracles?"

My morning tea was spent chatting with a teacher from Iceland. He was the first MIE Expert from Iceland to attend and E2 and was there by himself. Amazing chat and I learnt a lot about schooling over there, as well as the fact that they only have a population of around 330,000 people!

Session 2

One of the amazing opportunities we have over the conference is to work with other educators from around the world. We were put into teams of 5 or 6 and given a challenge to #Makewhatsnext. My group was Lieu Nguyen Thi - Vietnam (our MIE Fellow leader), Lingshuang Zhao - China, Jorge Francisco Sierra-Perez -Ecuador, Carlos Ernesto Henriquez -El Salvador, Eddie Tay -Singapore. What an amazing bunch of educators! We were tasked with creating a clever solution to an every day problem, making an innovative possible solution to a common classroom issue that can be universally implemented. These all had to be an improvement or addin for Microsoft products. A new feature is on the cards! Our group got a great idea before the end of the day and with only a few minor language issues, we got started on our task. This is a competition and the MIE Fellows and Microsoft will be judging our work this week. The judging criteria is based on the framework and how our idea impacts student learning and why is it an innovative feature.

Session 3

I went to a session this afternoon where there were 4 teachers telling us about the amazing things they were doing. The first was Velichka Dafcheva @vilidaf from Bulgaria talking about Computer Science and programming. She uses Micro:bit in her classes. Then Rachel Chisnall @ibpossum from New Zealand spoke about teaching teachers and personalising professional development for staff. This is something that is dear to my heart as we talk all the time about personalising learning for our students and yet so much professional development is a bunch of teachers sitting in a room listening to a lecture - just what we wouldn't do with our students. She used some great analogies to get across the difficulties we face trying to help teachers change and move forward. Finding the right tool is important and once we do that staff will take up the challenge and find their own way around problems. Change comes whether you like it or not. It will be different. Find strategies to help with change. We need to get staff voice heard and then act on what they say. Model risk taking!
Marisol Smith Irazabal @PnLpZ gave us an insight into bridging the gap between neuroscience and technology in education. She gave us an outline of the Triune Brain theory and explained that when we are under stress, our thinking brain turns off and we use our reptilian brain, which works on the fight or flight concept. Her suggestions to engage the brain are:
Provide meaningful content
Movement is important
We learn in a social environment
Use mirror neurons (yawn when others yawn) - need to show compassion
Provide choices - every brain is different
Give immediate feedback - when they want to achieve something they need feedback straight away
The last speaker was Amanda Jolliffe @msajolliffe who spoke about ideas to use in the classroom to increase engagement. She used Blooms Taxonomy to explain what they are doing in her school. She talked about making the move from teacher centered to learner centered learning and how this can take time to implement. This resonated with me in my new environment, looking to change how we work with our students. If we want to improve education we have to set a good environment and get student feedback on what we do.

Group Challenge

The rest of the afternoon was spent working on our group challenge. We finally narrowed our idea down to some changes for Microsoft Forms and we went to work on designing these. Being the only person in our group with English as a first language had it's challenges. Luckily a number spoke Spanish and could translate for each other, but it was good to remember to use simple language and it made me work on my explanations and terminology for the others.


Our evening was spent with other educators from the Asia Pacific region. Microsoft shouted us a fantastic dinner at The Hot House in Toronto and it was great to have some time to talk to others about their day and their groups.

Day One done. Lots learnt and lots to think about. Excited that I got a photo with Mr OneNote himself, Mike Tholfsen. The man is a legend and I had a great chat with him over lunch. Another day tomorrow. Bring it on.

Tuesday, 21 March 2017

E2 Toronto - pre-conference

Travelling to the other side of the world isn't the highest thing on my to do list. The planning to get there and then the hours of sitting on a plane or in airports doesn't thrill me. Being in Toronto, however is fantastic. I have only been here for 36 hours but already loving the people and the city.


I left Christchurch on a sunny Sunday morning about 11a.m. with another #MIEExpert Keryn, and although we didn't manage to get seats together, we had a good trip to Auckland.  Did the duty free shopping on the way so I had some yummy things to pick up on the way back, then got on the plane to San Francisco. Select the two largest American men on the plane, imagine them in your mind, they were sitting in the outside seats with me in the middle. It was an interesting trip.  A good flight though and then the interesting time through the U.S. immigration.  Had our fingerprints taken and photo as well,  just to pass through for a few hours. Had to collect our bags and fully go through customs which took about 2 hours. The next few hours we rested, downloaded whatsapp which our group will be using for messaging and waited for our connecting flight through to Toronto.  This flight Keryn and I managed to sit together (after being early to our checkin to ask if we could change) and get a little sleep. The weather was good and having a window seat meant I could get some great photos of the American landscape. After a long wait for our bags we got our transport to the hotel and were given a great tour by our driver.  He explained the area we were traveling through and gave us a nice trip in. 

Up to our fancy room where I got changed and checked the whatsapp to find out where the others were. I met some of the other kiwis in the bar where I managed to grab some dinner and a very welcome drink. 28 hours of travel and we finally made it.


Today we had a day free to do some sightseeing and some shopping. One of our group had organised a couple of hire cars and we went for a trip to the Niagara Falls. What an amazing place.  I think what stunned me was that we drove round a corner and there they were, right by the town. I think I had imagined them to be in the middle of nowhere so it was strange seeing the buildings on both sides of the river. IHOP for lunch.  Very tasty and we'll worth the visit.  Interesting area around the falls with all of the fair style places and gaming arcades. We didn't have time to go to Ripley's Believe It Or Not or Louis Toussaud's waxworks, but it was an experience just walking down the street! We then went shopping in the Niagara outlet stores and I managed to buy a few items of clothing to take home with me.
The driving was entertaining being on the other side of the road and in a left-hand drive vehicle. Rachel did a great job with me navigating and reminding her to move over a little as the big trucks were a bit close on the 3 and 4 lane highways. We did the tourist thing and got some souvenirs from Niagara then went to 

Ice Hockey

Back to Toronto and we met up with the other Kiwis and Aussies who are here for the conference. Had a drink and some nibbles then got ready to go to the Ice Hockey game between the Toronto Maple Leafs and the Boston Bruins. Three of us went together, following the crowds down to the arena and finding our seats in a huge stadium. 20,000 people in an indoor stadium and the atmosphere was amazing. Two guys in front of us kept us informed about the rules, every time the whistle blew they gave us a run down on why and what happened. Very helpful! It's hard to describe the noise and the game, but it was worth the money to go and experience something I probably will never do again.
That's the sightseeing done, now for the conference and the opportunity to talk to some amazing educators form around the world. I am so privileged to be here and I am going to make the most of it!

Sunday, 12 March 2017


I have been thinking a lot lately about time. The lack of it, the use of it and where does it go?

Time to write policies and new processes

This is something that has been in the front of my mind in this unusual situation of setting up a brand new school. There are so many systems we take for granted but  when there is nothing there to start with, everything has to be written or made. This takes a huge amount of effort and time and I am only thankful that I am not one of our Senior Leadership team as I know the hours they must be putting in to make sure things are running as smoothly as possible.

Time to set up accounts

Another new school thing – we don’t have accounts at shops! Wanting to buy things for school and then realising we need to set up an account. After many phone calls (by me and others), emails and web searching, I managed to get one set up for one place. I’d forgotten how long that can take!

Time with family and friends

This is something I need to really work on. Work can take over, especially in a school like ours and I find myself having to take a step back and say no. My word for this year is Honesty and I need to be honest with myself about what I can and cannot achieve each day. I do feel at the moment the balance has tipped the wrong way and after the next week or two once I get back from the E2 conference in Toronto (read about last year) I need to right that balance.

Time to travel

Speaking of Toronto, there are so many things that have to be done when you travel overseas. It's amazing. Even though Microsoft have generously paid for me to go to this conference, there are so many things to sort. Insurance, money, gifts, my presentation and the clothes to wear in an average of 3 degrees. Had to buy a winter coat a bit early!

Time to get to know students and whanau         

Know your students. How often do we hear this as teachers and yet how often do we really take time to do exactly this? It is so important to have contact with home, to know what is going on in their lives and to make connections. I was lucky enough to have some time to go to a volleyball game being played by some of our students one weekend and it really made a difference to the connection I had with them. Even though they are not in my Puna Ako group, they now say hello to me and tell me about their games and training. Talking with parents and caregivers is vital to finding out what’s happening and although it takes time, it is worth every minute.

Time for yourself

This article  about a first year teacher was shared around Facebook and I think it really sums up the pitfalls of not taking time for yourself. Schools are a bottomless pit that you can put all of your energy into. The work will always be there the next day and it is important to take time for yourself. I burnt out as a young teacher and spent a year out from teaching, vowing I would never go back to the classroom fulltime as it was too draining. I am the sort of person who gives 110% all of the time and I gave until I had no more to give. I was enticed back in a part time (0.8) role about 15 years ago and found myself back in a fulltime role over the last few years. I have to continually remind myself that I cannot be all to everyone and that however much I want to do, it is not good for my health. As an experienced teacher, I can finally balance this, but I see so many young teachers struggle with the balance and I fear for them.
I am involved in a few groups outside of school and am the treasurer for two as well as recently being asked to drive another. There is a saying that if you want something done, give it to a busy person. I am sure that saying has my name attached to it, so I am trying to say no more often and ask for others to help out. My family will be pleased to know I am resigning from one of those positions at their AGM (yes, they know, so this won’t be a surprise).

Time to blog

I really enjoy writing my blogs, but I have about 5 half finished ones in draft form that I am struggling to find time to finish. This one became a priority for me as I felt so strongly about not having time to do it! The next one will be about the E2 conference and my time in Toronto, so passion will drive that as well. Otherwise they sit, waiting patiently for me to come back to them and add a few more words. One day, I hope they will be published, but probably during the holidays!

Time to spend planning

Finding time to make sure I am prepared for each day at school is important. When you are reactive to student needs and don’t just turn out a lesson you prepared earlier, it always takes more time. I feel like a first year teacher all over again. Even when you can prepare ahead, starting a new way of teaching means having to rethink and redo all of those easy lessons I used to just pull out when needed. I have the benefit of having the basis there, but the time to shuffle to a new format and start many aspects from scratch is another thing. It's been a really good thing, having to put a new lens onto old work and make it more accessible and relevant to our students.

Time to spend with staff

Last year we were fortunate to have a lot of time to throw ideas around, talk informally with staff from all over our kura and share our thoughts. Now we are all so busy it is difficult to even find time to get to the staffroom. Having a social time to unwind on a Friday afternoon is really important to catch up and just let the week out of your system before heading off for the weekend. I would encourage all staff to do this, either at school or with a group away from school so that you can just have a laugh and unwind from the stress of the week.

I can’t believe we are halfway through the first term and its autumn. Not sure where that time went. As I get older time seems to disappear. I wonder if someone could add another hour to the day?

Sunday, 5 February 2017

Change - the theme for 2017

When I first looked at applying for a job at Haeata, I went to an information session where Andy Kai Fong spoke about what he envisioned for the school. The one thing that stuck in my mind from that session was him saying if you don't like change, don't apply. Things will change, continually. One term will not necessarily look like another and we will always be looking to be better. It really resonated with me and I knew that Haeata was the place I wanted to be.
So here I am. The beginning of a new year that marks change in so many ways. Our students were welcomed on Friday, with much media interest which you can read and view. TV1 (32:39), TV1 (5:47), Maori TV (11:14), CTV, The Press, Radio NZ. There is so much interest in what we are doing and how this kura will work and I am sure that will continue over the year.

There is change for a community who have had their schools and their routines broken by school closures and redevelopment. We have all been through so much with the earthquakes, but this community in particular has really felt the brunt of the disruptions. It is time for change. Time to move forward and grow as a community, with Haeata being a part of that new growth.

There is change for our students. They have been part of school communities that they know and are comfortable in. This is a difficult time. New environment, new staff, new routines, so much change for them. It will take time for them to get to know us, to feel comfortable in their new kura and to be able to understand and learn about our different way of doing things. We don't have subjects or a strict timetable. We aren't focussing on assessments and what they have to do to pass. It's not that they won't have these assessments available to them, but just that we are coming from another angle - the student. Here is the link to read more about the Haeata curriculum. It's hard for those students who have been in the current system for so long. To change their thinking and give them the freedom of choice and the power to think for themselves will take some time and for many will be very difficult.

There is change for our staff. Many of our staff at Haeata are new to Christchurch. They have come from all over the country and are some of the best educators I know. The upheaval of many from communities they have been in for a long time must be very hard. There is a real feel of community at Haeata which hopefully has made them feel welcome. The way we work together, the support for each other and the way this kura approaches Te ao Māori has been nothing short of amazing. I really like this blog by Lex Davis who sums this up well.
One of the comments made last year by one of our leadership team was about how this can be quite a difficult time for many when a new school is started. You are all appointed specifically for this kura and so many of us have been leaders in our schools. All of a sudden there are a lot of very capable people around you. Instead of perhaps being the one person in your school pushing for innovation and making change, you are now one of many and all of our staff are like this. This can be an amazing time, where you embrace the challenges and not being the only one, but for some it can also be quite hard, as you are no longer the only one people look to for inspiration or support. I know I took a while to get used to this, but now I am reveling in the fact that I am surrounded by people who are keen, motivated, innovative and ready for change.

I have been reading a lot of articles about change in education and a few I have read recently have resonated with me. There is a real call for change and how we do things. This white paper talks about the "urgent case for reimagining today's schools". I particularly like this paragraph:
The modern world demands that we create the conditions in our classrooms and schools where students have freedom to pursue their questions, not ours, where they can create their own curriculum, and design their own paths to mastery. Classrooms where they act as apprentice learners who work with teachers who are master learners, first and foremost, not where they are seen as empty vessels to be filled with knowledge.
Roger Shank wrote this article about why students hate school. He's right. So much is a waste of time, unless you want to pass exams. His final paragraph just makes me want to change education even more. I want to make school a place where what you learn will matter in your future.
So, my advice. Know what matters to you. Learn that. Temporarily memorize nonsense if you want to graduate but have a proper perspective on it. Nothing you learn in high school will matter in your future life.

There is change for me personally. I have learnt so much over the last term. So much about our Māori history and te reo. So much about education and possibilities. So much about our kaimahi (staff) and how we will work together. I know I have changed. I have taken a step back in some ways, to sit back and let things happen a bit more instead of feeling I am having to drive things. To listen to others more and be prepared to make changes in what I do. It's about having faith in those around you. Knowing that all of the wonderful people I am working with have experiences and knowledge that they are prepared to share and discuss with each other. This is special. I have only ever found pockets of this before, rather than a full staff approach and it's challenging. You have to let go of things and be part of a team. You have to accept that you don't always have the ideas and that others are more than capable of offering great things. I know I will learn even more over the years I am here and that I will change even more. I feel very blessed.

On our last day before our students arrived, Andy shared this poem with us. I feel it really sums up the journey we are on.

Time to change,  make change and be changed.

Friday, 27 January 2017

Connections to start 2017

The last two weeks have been all about connections for me. Connecting with other educators from around the world, being back at Haeata and connecting with staff and whanau.

Two weeks ago I opened my work email to find one from Anne Taylor, our NZ Microsoft Schools Manager, telling me I had been selected to go to Toronto to the amazing Microsoft Educator E2 Exchange. I spent the next 5 minutes in tears and absolutely speechless. It took me quite a bit of time to actually be able to call my mother and speak clearly to her to tell her. I was so blown away and had no idea it was coming so it was quite a shock.
My next call was to my school to check they were happy to give me leave to go. It means a week away which is quite a lot of time, but Microsoft are paying for the trip which is just fantastic and Haeata is very supportive which I am so thankful for. I then spent quite a bit of time reading and rereading all the emails that came in with information. I looked around websites and checked in to our new Yammer group for the New Zealand MIEExperts that are going. There are 7 of us and I can hardly wait to meet everyone. It certainly is taking some time to sink in and even two weeks later I keep having to remind myself that I am leaving in less than 8 weeks! My next step was to sort out the lesson I will present in Toronto. I only had a few online and I really wanted to do something with StaffPad and my SurfacePro so I decided to put another one together using videos I have on my YouTube channel - Music Sue. It is certainly a draft at the moment, but I can do more as time goes on. I love using my SurfacePro for teaching music (everything actually!) and it really does make a difference to what I do.
I made the decision I would put my name down to sit the Microsoft Certified Educator exam while I am over there. Bit scared - I don't like exams - but keen to give it a go. I have already finished the Teaching with Technology course on the Educator Community which will help with preparation for this, but I'll run through it again to make sure I'm up to it! The connections I have made through being an Microsoft Innovative Educator Expert have been amazing and I would recommend it to anyone who wants to learn more and be part of a great community.

I spent quite a bit of time in school getting the music equipment sorted out and in some semblance of order over the last couple of weeks. There was a lot of equipment from the closing schools and it arrived in boxes so needed unpacking and sorting through. Being back at Haeata and now in our new buildings is amazing. Connecting with the space is important and I felt that week gave me time to work out how I was feeling about our new kura and the wonderful people that work there.

On Monday we had our support staff join us at Haeata. It was great to have all of our staff together for the first time and wonderful to make connections with those we haven't seen for a while, as well as our newbies. In the afternoon we went to Tuahiwi Marae. This amazing photo was taken by Clark Williams,
one of our kaiako, and I feel it sums up the great atmosphere out there. Making connections with the history of the area and our staff was very special. We were treated to some amazing workshops about the history of the area and Ngāi Tahu as well as tikanga māori. Our dinner was provided and we had a wonderful overnight stay sleeping in the marae together - luckily without too many people snoring! I went for a walk in the morning around Tuahiwi township and felt really connected to the area. It reminded me of my hometown of Darfield, a small country town where everyone knew everyone. It brought back a lot of memories and made more connections to my past. I found this article while looking for something about Darfield to link here. I must have missed it when it was published so it made interesting reading about my hometown. There were certainly less people out there when I lived there. After some more workshops in the morning we went for a trip out to Kaiapoi Pā and learnt more about the history of this area. I felt quite a strong connection here with what had happened and I found the information that Corban Te Aika gave us really interesting.

The rest of the week was about making connections with the Haeata whānau. Our hāpori met frequently and planned our Orientation time for ākonga as well as working on our four main ongoing areas of Learning Design, Relationships, NCEA, and Time and Space. Our Learning support and Admin staff joined us this week so making connections with them was a priority and we are looking forward to working with them as well. We made connections with a lot of our ākonga during the week. Many came in for Volleyball practice as well as for enrolments and uniform fittings. It was great to have them on site.

An exciting couple of weeks. New plans, new beginnings and excitement have kept me on my toes. I have more waiata and haka to learn before our powhiri next week and more planning to finish. Can hardly wait for our ākonga to turn up next Friday. Looking forward to it.

Monday, 16 January 2017

Haeata Week Ten

Took me a few weeks to get this finished, and then didn't post it, but here it is - the last of our planning journey blogs for Haeata. I started it in December but Christmas got in the road. Back into it now...

Here it is - the last week of our amazing journey, a term of developing ideas and planning. A time to get to know some amazing people and make some really great connections with staff, students and community. I feel very blessed to have been in this position and to have this opportunity. I know that next year is going to be full on and we won't have as much time to be able to ponder things and read and write as much as I have. But I am looking forward to being with the students and in our amazing new kura with the fantastic kaiako that I have the privilege of working with. My blogs will no doubt take a bit of a different flavour from here on in, but I am keen to keep tracking the journey we are on and sharing it with others.

Day One

We have had a few forums going over the last few weeks around some odds and ends like wearing hats - inside and out, staff dress code, duty, lots of every day issues. Today Andy went through these and pulled out the general consensus on what we are going to do next year. It's been good to have input on this as we all come from different angles and it's great to hear what others have to say. So, decision time and lots of these were nailed down. The Wonder Wall also got some answers, although many had been answered just in the course of time which was great.
Our Puna Ako time in our hapori was spent looking at NCEA yet again. It certainly has been the elephant in the room and still has us discussing how, why and what for. We are also aware of our own limitations as a hapori and how that might impact on our ākonga. How can we cover for areas of interest that we don't have expertise in? There are lots of options here and we will work through these once we have our students and identify their needs.
Mai time was time for some reading, and I had the opportunity to make a Chocolate Salami which I brought in to share on Tuesday. Well worth making - quick and easy, and delicious!

Day Two

A late start on Tuesday meant I had time to do some Christmas shopping bright and early - out of the Christmas rush. My lack of voice over the weekend meant I only felt like staying home and reading a book - probably a good idea - but I do feel a bit behind in the Christmas preparations!
The rest of the day was spent looking at our Learning process and NCEA, then preparing for a hui with our senior students. This was held after school and gave the students and their whanau the opportunity to come and talk about NCEA, the uniform and leadership in the school. It was a good afternoon and a great opportunity to get some student voice on all of those things.

Day Three

Starting the day with kapahaka practise is always a great energiser - except when you don't have a voice. Mine is only just coming back, so it was a mime session for me.
The last of this year's digital korowai were presented today with a few surprises, including the revealing of "Bad Fanta" among us. It's great to find out about people and one of our staff does roller derby in her spare time.
Wellbeing was a trip to the beach and I wandered collecting rubbish for a while then sat and chatted and relaxed. It was a beautiful day and nice to watch the surfers and all the people having a great day out. Mai time in the afternoon gave me the opportunity to finish my Week Nine blog! I also read this article which I enjoyed, talking about the move from child-centered to skill-centered learning and how play can help the move back to more child-centered.

Day Four

We started with some work on NCEA in our hapori, then a group of us went out to the University of Canterbury to support one of our kaiārahi who was being honoured at the Māori Graduation Ceremony. It was a fantastic morning and such an amazing feeling to watch and join in with the celebrations of all the graduands and whānau.
The afternoon was spent at one of the closing schools, packing up the Science gear ready for it to be moved to our new site in the new year.

Day Five

We had an extended kapahaka practise and learnt another waiata that we can practise over the holidays. A wonderful lunch was put on by the Senior Leadership team and the afternoon was relaxed as each hapori took the floor and danced, sang, played games and generally entertained each other. The evening had us enjoying some good food and drinks at The Bower as our year came to an official end.

Day Six

This day was very special as the new site was blessed and the carvings were brought in. It was a lovely morning and it was very
moving to be a part of it. Afterwards a couple of us went and packed up the Music equipment in preparation for it's move to Haeata. This was a very moving time for me as I was HOD Music at Aranui High School in the early 2000s and being there at the end of an era, packing up gear that I had purchased 15 years ago, was quite emotional. Watching the demolition going on around us as we packed gear was hard. It is the end of an era with the closing of the schools, but also the start of a new one at Haeata. It has been a difficult time for the community and all of those involved but also very exciting moving forward. I am pleased to see that there is a 3 part web series being made about the history of Aranui High School, called Te Tōnga ō Te Rā - you can watch the trailer here.

Day Seven

Just before Christmas the new kura was made available for the community to come and have a look around. Our staff took people on tours and showed them through the school. It was the first time many of us had been in some of the spaces, so it was very exciting for everyone. It is such an amazing space and I am looking forward to working in it. This article quotes a parent saying "It's like a resort".

It's been a term like no other. I feel like I have been at a conference every day for 10 weeks - full of learning, talking with people and reading and listening so much. It's been tiring but also very exciting. We have an amazing bunch of staff and amazing ideas. I am looking forward to meeting our students in a few weeks!