Saturday, 29 October 2016

Haeata - Week Three

It is a short week this week due to Labour Day here. Having a long weekend was good to take stock of everything that has happened so far at Haeata. It was time to reflect on new ideas, cement names and faces, and then relax and get some gardening done!  It has been a tiring couple of weeks, even though we do not have students and classes to teach. The amount of new learning has really been challenging and I think as you get older it takes longer to sink in.

Day One

Today we had a few new staff arrive. They were thrown in the deep end very quickly with our workshop on the Essential Agreements which Karyn took. The focus today was on transdisciplinary learning and we started to unpack what this looks like. We started with some statements on interdisciplinary learning which we then discussed with a range of staff, arguing our points where needed. We looked at the difference between multidisciplinary, interdisciplinary and transdisciplinary and watched this short clip which explained it very well.
In our hapori we had some time to look at what this approach would mean to use as a group which can be very challenging for secondary school teachers as we are often very siloed in our approach. My work with both the School of Music and the School of Apps meant that I am on the right track in this direction but there are still things I could improve on to really make my teaching really transdisciplinary.
This afternoon was Mai time and I spent the time working out how to navigate Google Classroom, as well as writing in my blog and keeping up my reflections.

Day Two

We spent the day out and about today, looking at some of the amazing resources we can tap into in Christchurch. Our first stop was at the Ministry of Education where we were introduced to a large team of people who are supporting our school and our community. It was good to put some faces to names and to make contact here.
Second stop was to Te Pūtahitanga. What an amazing place. This space was full of a range of people who worked on innovative approaches to creating solutions for and with whānau. The design group that has been working with Haeata comes from here and it will be great to work with the Digital Native Aotearoa team in the future. I loved the skills and passions here in all areas and can certainly see many links being formed and fostered with Haeata.
Next stop was Te Rūnanga o Ngāi Tahu (TRONT) where we were given an insight into their education programme. They talked about their digital initiative and also about the work being done to support te reo in the community by Kotahi Mano Kāika (KMK). Our normalisation of te reo in our kura will be a great support for this and I can see links happening here as far as supporting our staff and whānau.
The Ministry of Awesome was just that - awesome! What a great space for a start, where people can work on projects, and then to have the support and connections that the MoA can provide to help out. I loved the sound of the coffee and jam sessions and hope to get to one of these soon. This is a great step for people wanting to start businesses or continue with a great idea. One problem they have had with connecting with schools was the timetable restrictions which we will not have at Haeata so I am looking forward to seeing how this might fit with some of our students. They have also compiled an innovation ecosystem guide, bringing together organisations that offer support for entrepreneurs.
The afternoon was spent at Waitākiri School  which started on a new site this year, bringing Burwood and Windsor schools together. It was good to see classes in action and to have the opportunity talk to students about how they found the new environment, which has large open areas called Studios, and overwhelmingly they said they loved it. Students loved being able to mix with a larger number of students and many said they had a lot more friends. The only negative from a student was around the noise and it will be interesting to see how this works out in our new environment. You can see a flythrough of our Haeata spaces here. The challenge for us will be to plan our learning to really make use of our spaces and to try not to just transfer the traditional classroom into a collaborative space. Neill O'Reilly, the Principal suggested we have a read through "Clever Classrooms' which is a study done by Salford University in Manchester, England. I will say I haven't read the full 52 page report as yet, but the 4 page summary was really interesting. It amazed me that naturalness, which includes light, temperature and air quality, accounted for half the learning impact in this study. As many of the students were using iPads, I also found myself thinking of the SAMR model and putting this over how they were using them. Why and how do we use technology and what are the benefits? Where are we on the SAMR model and where do we want to be?
One of the great things about having this time to explore is having conversations with other staff. I was told about Sudbury Valley School today, which I hadn't heard of before. This school has a really interesting philosophy and the students take part in the governance of the school as well. Well worth reading about.

Day Three

We started with mai time today where I got a large amount of my blog written. It was good to do this reflection on our edutour and it set me up for our hāpori time where we shared these reflections. We also started to share our own thoughts around pedagogy. I felt we were all very much on the same page with the student as the centre of learning. The afternoon was once again around our cultural narrative. We had our first look at the plans of the school and it was good to see the spaces so we can try and imagine what learning might look like within them. We then were told the names of all the spaces and what each space was named for or about. Each hāpori then put together an entertaining presentation about the origin of their hāpori name. Ours was the Year 11-13 hāpori which is named Ihutai after the estuary. We had a lot of discussion about the history and the uses of the estuary and came up with a short skit.

Day Four

The day started in our hāpori with a new karakia that I really liked - Ka haea te ata. For some reason this resonated with me and it is one I would like to learn by heart. We then finished up our pedagogy presentations and then had discussions around some of the more mundane and process issues such as uniform, teacher names and managing of students. Many of these discussion raised even more questions, some of which were put on the wonder wall for clarification by the SLT. We then moved on to writing some narratives around what learning might look like in our hāpori. We have three different blocks of time during the week, kaupapa ako, puna ako, and mai time. Each has a focus from large group to individual and we have been working around possible scenarios for this. Sharing these means building up ideas together as to what learning may look like for our ākonga and once again it is really great to be able to share our ideas and have input into the bigger picture.
Mai time I spent writing blogs and playing with Quiver - a 3D Augmented Reality app that brings pictures to life. I have seen this used as a tool for storywriting and would love to get into it further in the future. One of the staff had organised for us to purchase a lunch from Fill Their Lunchbox. This is a great initiative that gives a lunch to a disadvantaged school student for each one we purchase. Great lunch and a great cause. I wish this happened in every city, not just Christchurch!
After lunch we had reading and viewing time where Andy gave us the results of the survey we did last week on relationships. We looked at what makes good relationships and the main points for me were honesty, openmindedness and communication. He then went on to introduce us to the Ladder of Inference which outlines the way we sometimes jump to conclusions and don't always have the facts we need. This then led to the Ladder of Feedback which we can use to make sure we have good communication and clarify our ideas without going off on the wrong track. When things get tough we revert to type so we need a structure to get us through those times and we can use this ladder to be respectful to others. We need to get the full story from the person who said it and we need to be aware of how we operate so we can be honest and open. This tool is a way of doing that.

Another week gone. Time is flying and the year is going fast. We are learning so much and growing as a team which is really exciting. I am looking forward to the next week and our next steps in creating this wonderful school - Haeata.

Tuesday, 25 October 2016

Haeata - Week Two

Part of the reason for writing a diary of my journey this term is to reflect on what I have been learning but also to document the path we are following towards starting a brand new school. This is such a different start from just changing schools and I really feel honored to be a part of it. Others have also been doing reflections and it is good to see this journey from different points of view. Karyn Gray (one of our SLT) has written a blog that sums up week one. You can read it here. I find it interesting comparing her viewpoint from my own and seeing how the SLT have been planning each activity.
During this week we also had "Random Acts of Kindness" (ROAK) happening. We picked names out of a hat and over the week, there were many little gifts, comments and cards being given out. A difficult task as we don't have desks or personal spaces, so there was a lot of stealth and asking others to help out.

Day One

The main focus of the first day was on our Cultural Narrative. We were very lucky to have Corban in again to help Mel go through our affiliations and talk us through the background of the naming of Haeata, our hapori and many of the wayfinding areas of our new site.
They talked us through the history of Ngāi Tahu and gave us an explanation of Te Rūnanga O Ngāi Tapu (TRONT) as opposed to the Rūnanga, of which we are affiliated to Te Ngāi Tūāhuriri Runanga. After this we worked in pairs to learn more about other Rūnanga and we created a document with information on to share with others.
I was really interested to hear about the origins of the names for our hapori. They are all connected and show the path of water flowing from Years 1-13. We went on a trip around to see many of these places, where Corban Te Aika told us of the cultural significance and gave us some history around them.
1 - Hikuawa - spring of the water
2 - Kaunuku - flowing water
3 - Kōrepo - swamp marsh bog
4 - Ihutai - estuary, before going out to big wide water

Each hapori also has a siapo design that relates to the name which relates back to the narrative. The community was consulted on all of the names, with the closing schools also given the opportunity to put forward names that were important to their schools. The Pasifika and European communities were also consulted and there are many names being used on our new site.

In the afternoon we did some more work on the Principles, presenting these to each other and then listened to more digital korowai as we continue to get to know each other. One of the staff mentioned this video The People vs the School System  in their presentation, which I had seen before but forgotten about.

Day Two

Today started with our hapori taking the karakia, himene and mihi - dressed in our lycra and fluorescent gear! It was Andy Kai Fong and Karyn Gray's birthdays, both turning 50 today so a double special day. Each hapori took a session this morning and we embarrassed them as much as possible with our hapori getting the Green Goddess to take them through a gentle workout (hence the fluoro). We had a shared morning tea - I swear I have eaten more than ever in a week since being here - and then listened to Rebecca and Jess describe our Transition scheme. It is a big job enrolling the large number of students coming into Haeata next year, all for the first time. The gathering of information from kura and whanau is vital to help us support our learners and in particular those with diverse learning needs.

Day Three

Today we spent the day at the Vodafone Xone in the centre of Christchurch. It was an opportunity to go to a different venue, have a look around the centre of town and spend time in a different space. We had a workshop on the Dispositions of Haeata. These are:

  • Collaborative
  • Compassionate
  • Contributor
  • Designer
  • Rangitiratanga
  • Resilient
  • Respectful

We were paired together to look at what we felt these meant to us, and after sharing our ideas we went out into the community to ask them what they thought about one particular disposition. We had Contributor and came up with the question " What does it mean to you to be a contributor in a school setting?". One of the answers we got from a Polytech student which we really liked was to "positively influence the culture of the school". We then made playdoh models of our disposition (I am so not an artist in any way shape or form) and these were put onto a slide show so we all had to guess which disposition has been portrayed. Some were really easy - others were not!
We then split into our hapori and talked about our next steps. We need to work out how we are going to work together so everyone has been asked to think about our ways of working, our roles and look at sharing our own ideas, dreams, pedagogies and experiences. We then went out and had a drink together and got to know each other more, with some crazy story telling and some laughs.

Day Four

I started the day meeting with Andy to talk about our itinerant music lessons. This is very difficult to work out as we have no idea of numbers or of what instrumental tuition we may need. We  really cannot make any decisions until we see the students next year.
We had some time in the morning (Mai Time) to do our own work and I spent time on reflections and writing up a list of music resources that we will use from the closing schools.
Our next block was with our hapori, looking at how we will work together and getting to know each other more. We looked at what we expect from our kaiārahi and our SLT and fed this back to them. We also had another look at the values and what they meant to us.
The afternoon was spent playing a curriculum futures game. This was a really entertaining afternoon with each group arguing for a specific type of curriculum. Many laughs were had, but also many valid arguments. Our group had the project based, community curriculum and we managed to come 1st equal. It was really interesting, as each of the groups had their merits and I felt that what we need in a school is a mix of all of them. You can read more about this game here - or play the online version.

Day Five

Our day started with some more digital korowai and then went into a dispositions workshop. We looked at the answers to people's playdoh models and got a few people to explain them further, as they were fairly abstract! We then got to look at all our dispositions and make comments on them. I found that many crossed over from one to another. It has been great to have this time to look at these, but also to have input into what they may look like for us and our ākonga. Andy ended up wearing someone's halo from our RAOK gifts, which had us all laughing. More Mai time after this to work on our reflections and talk with other staff and then after lunch Andy had us moving into continuums around a range of statements. This was interesting to see how people interpreted each statement but also who was at each end of the spectrum. For example, I am both an extrovert and an introvert depending on the situation.

The rest of the afternoon was answering our questions on the Wonder Wall. We had put a lot of questions up here and it was good to get some answers, even if it was just "we don't know yet". 

Final thoughts

I really enjoyed learning about our cultural narrative this week. It really resonated with me and I found myself talking to others about it, outside of Haeata. It would be great if all schools in New Zealand could have this connection to their community, and I know many will, but I am sure many could do this better. It has been great to embrace Maori culture with our hapori doing the karakia and himene in the mornings this week. It normalises this and I feel it is a great way to start and end the day.

Monday, 17 October 2016

Haeata - Connections in week 1

I have been so excited about starting at Haeata Community Campus and was very keen to keep a diary of what I was thinking and what we have been doing and so I decided I would write a bit each day and publish at the end of the week. This is an amazing opportunity to be in at the beginning of a new school, and the process is very different from when you change schools at the end of a year. I have been lucky to be part of this new venture and I am finding it fascinating.

The day before...

After meeting with #ChchEd Educators @paulinehendog, @mattynicoll, @karyngra and @ginippi on Sunday afternoon, I had more questions than answers and the excitement started to build. We had a good discussion about uniform in schools and I found that I hadn't even given a thought as to whether there was a dress code for staff in my new school. I just assumed that I would wear what I normally would for teaching. It was good having Karyn there, so I did get to ask. Interestingly, she said it wasn't something that they had thought about. There are so many things that a new school has to think about, it has been interesting to see what the priorities are as another school had stipulated what they wanted their staff to wear. As Matt was also going to a new school this term, there was talk about the balance of getting to know staff, but also getting on with what we need to do for planning and I look forward to seeing how this pans out in our induction weeks. I am sure my social media accounts will be busy over the next few weeks as I learn new things and get more excited about meeting our students next year.

Day One

Some nerves this morning as I drove over to the old Burwood School site ready for our mihi whakatau. Great to meet with some new staff first thing and then we were welcomed to Haeata.  After our mihimihi Mana Whenua facilitator Corban Te Aika and Mel Taite (SLT) spent time to teach us the waiata that we would be mainly using. Our day was spent getting to know each other. We spent time in small groups, doing the usual icebreaker type activities and the SLT ran some excellent activities. We went outside and did a treasure hunt in teams - a great way to get to know a few of our colleagues and show our true colours (maybe I am a little competitive). There were lots of laughs and a lot of talking. We also got to see the new uniform, which looks really practical and low cost for families. Over lunch, a few of us decided that the getting to know people was quite exhausting. You are continually listening, talking, asking questions and trying to remember names and details. It really was a tiring day.
During the day we were encouraged to ask questions and a few came up over the day, checking if we can blog/tweet, uniform questions, dates and times as well as talking about going into our contributing schools. Many things are still in progress and will take more discussion over the coming weeks.

Day Two

I presented my digital korowai this morning and challenged myself to present something in a way I hadn't done before so did my first Office Mix and made it into a movie. It was good to push myself out of my comfort zone - something I feel we will all be doing over the next weeks. Each day a few of us are presenting about ourselves - a really great way to get to know one another and learn about some of the interests we have.
We then had a presentation and discussion around our values at Haeata. Andy, Cheryl and Haneta from the board talked us through what the school is based on and how the values came about in consultation with the community. There was discussion around PPP - Public Private Partnership which is what this school has been funded by. You can read more about that here.
We watched The Future of Learning and we had discussions around what this meant for us as a school. We watched it again and were encouraged to take notes in whatever way we wanted. Really interesting to see the range of ways people wanted to record their thoughts. My note-taking lives in OneNote and I love being able to write and draw and highlight as I note take. Being able to put pictures in and links is just the best. I would be hard pushed to find another tool that would do all of that!
After lunch we had a "Passion Unconference". This was the opportunity to experience learning about other staff member's passions. We were treated to workshops from playing cards to baking and writing Chinese characters to making Samoan ula lole. A great opportunity to learn more about others and also experience something a little different for ourselves.We were then split into groups and given a packet of pipecleaners and had to create something that was representative of learning at Haeata. Ours showed chaos, infinity, connectedness, strong foundations, collaboration and thinking outside the box.

Day Three

The day started with our karakia and himene (I have been learning a lot in regards to Tikanga Maori and Te Reo)and then moved into a session on Unschooling. We had a lot of opportunities to talk in pairs and small groups about our experiences and in one part to discuss failure and success and what the conditions were to make us meet these two things. Why do we try again and again and then give up? Or alternatively why do we try and try again and keep trying until we succeed? We came up with a lot of conditions that make these things happen. A really good way to see how we can support our learners to succeed. I realised for myself that I often don't risk take for fear of failure and things outside my comfort zone often don't even get attempted. We are all too quick to make excuses - not enough time, not interested and so on.
Andy Kai Fong talked about the cynefin framework by Dan Snowden (place of multiple belongings) and we looked at what each of these areas could look like in a school situation. I felt this resonated as I know I have been in all four quadrants over my teaching time.
We had some time in our hapori today which was good to get to know each other a little better. We played games (cards were a definite hit) and chatted about ourselves.
I had an interesting discussion with some staff at lunchtime around student well-being and was introduced to the Circle of Wellbeing and Achievement which Haeata is using when interviewing parents of new students. This has a really good framework to get to know students and plan goals and strategies to help with the transition into the school.
We had more digital korowai today and it has been great learning about our staff who have been very open in sharing information about their family and their teaching.
The afternoon was about our personal sites that had been set up for us which have our contracts and information and documentation about our reflections as well as space for working towards our Practicing Teaching Criteria.

Day Four

Our first session was on the principles today - Authentic, Connected, Culturally intelligent, Inclusive, Social, Open, Personalised. These are what Haeata is based upon and it was great to have time to learn about and unpack these. Firstly we had blank sheets of paper to write our ideas and unpack each principle. Then we gathered in groups and were given photos that we felt represented those principles and it was interesting to see how people interpreted those pictures and the different ways of thinking. We shared a story each that related to one of the principles and looked at how we would show success in that area. This was a good exercise in working out how we define success. It made me think more about what success is and how our students show that. In groups we also made a slide show with a quote, definition, song and slogan about one of the principles. This let us unpack them a little more as well as get to know more staff. I felt that the principles are all interconnected and felt good about how they would impact on our teaching and learning at Haeata.

Day Five

Today was a different day. We started with a shared breakfast and then had an Amazing Race. We were split into different groups yet again and sent off around Christchurch to find a range of items, build sandcastles and meet people in businesses. The highlights would have to be one of our team removing the required chicken feather from a dead chicken, pretending to be sheep on the side of the road, meeting some amazing people and convincing tourists to have their photo taken with us. We came back for a BBQ lunch then worked together on a presentation for the rest of the staff on our excursion.

This week has been like a huge week of professional development. My daughter thought it sounded like a school camp and in some ways it was. We had time to socialise, to connect with one another and learn about others as well as ourselves. We are very lucky to have this opportunity.  I certainly felt that my brain was about to explode a few times. However, it has been a very rewarding week and I know that I feel connected to staff and to this amazing new school, Haeata.

Wednesday, 5 October 2016

Engaging Pasifika Parents

I was lucky enough to be able to attend one of Core-Ed's breakfast Seminars in September. I find these really interesting and always come away having learnt something new and making connections with other educators. This one was on Engaging Pasifika Parents and had the inspiring Aiono Manu Faaea-Semeatu presenting. Her Twitter handle is @AionoManu and she has a great blog that has lots of ideas on it. Aiono has a Masters in Gifted Students in Music which ties up two of  my passions, so I was very excited to hear what she had to say. Here are my notes from the morning.
One of the websites she directed us to was with-parents which has great ideas supplementing what we learnt on the day.
She started with a beautiful mihi that included pictures which I enjoyed as it really portrayed who she was as a person and as an educator. She then moved on to explain the Pasifika Education Plan as written by the Ministry of Education. She underlined specific areas and expanded on these. From this came many questions we should be asking ourselves.
  • How do Pasifika families learn at home?
  • How do we transfer skills knowledge from home to school? Some may feel their culture is not as important as others feel. Look at alternative opportunities pathways.
  • Remember parents may not be Pasifika descent.

Parents are people - not just parents
Aspirations - what do you know about what they want for their children?
Strengths - what are these families known for?
Interests - what can you connect to them with?
Families  - know both contacts that you have - could be grandparents or other relatives. Hook into parents. Lots of contact.
Individuality - help parents to foster and celebrate what the student does well. If the students are good at arguing - join debating!
Kinesthetic - ask parents to come and do things at school. Take time to connect and explain that their students have a shot at doing well.
Access - give parents information about where students can go after they leave school.

You come with the hopes of your ancestors

Explain Abs SNA NCEA and all the acronyms we use. Need to show parents what and how things work.
Scaffold work.
Unite - do things together. It's ok to be smart. Look at the student's record of learning frequently.
Co-create work.
Capture - bring class back on track but foster contribution.
Elevate - no cap on learning, they can always do more.
Thrive to strive - about persistence.
Support- how we can we help - flipped classroom so parents can help at home.

What happens when no one wants to lead in a group situation?  Be specific with them. One in charge of each part. Give time frame and scaffold what you want from them.

Aiono would have an excellence table at the front of the classroom and would only teach to the front table. Would always maintain high expectations and students would want to be at the front.

Don’t say shame - no shame in this class.
Things that should be on your enrolment form to give you information about parents:
  • language spoken
  • qualifications and learning experiences you have enjoyed at home
  • how do you like to get information - email, phone, in person

Foster warmth and embarrass with love. Use humour -  be funny by association.

The relationship is only as strong as the conversation

We then moved into a workshop where we had the chance to work together and discuss best practice.

It started with us learning about the people we were sitting with and introducing them to others, an excellent way to make sure we were listening! Aiono was amazing and learnt all our names in the first 10 minutes.

Some of the ideas that came out before we started writing were:

  • Be aware of your own bias
  • Listen to student voice
  • We need to try and break down parent bias and previous experience
  • Use music, singing, drumming, dance
  • Have a place in the library with Pasifika flavour. Keep other language newspapers in library for the community to read.
  • Prize giving - give lei
  • Have lunches for families a couple of times a year

Then we gathered in groups to write ideas for best practice in three columns - Learners, Families and Communities, and Staff. Here are the three groups findings.

Aiono said in her classes, many may fail the first NCEA standard as she would set deadlines and make them stick to them. If they fail, they learn more.

Got her students to call out in the grounds how many credits they had.

She then challenged us to write some goals. Some of these are difficult next term without students, as I am starting a new school, but I want put these into play for 2017.

And here are mine:

Learn Samoan
Find a class and practise lots!
Long term goal to be fluent
Communicate more with families
Finding the most accessible way and make sure I send positive comments.
Mid term goal for students at Haeata
Bring parents into the school to contribute to projects
Look at curriculum and see where this can fit. Make connections.
Term 1 2017
Musically - concerts - connections
Look at resources for Pasifika and find out what parents can help with/do musically
Term 1 2017
Attend church/community time
Gain knowledge and find out what is on that I can attend and get to know families
Term 4 if possible

And this one is from me, as I really like her style.
Miss Daisy - PolySwagg 

Monday, 3 October 2016

Moving Schools

Ah, the joy of moving schools. So many things to tidy up and sort, so little time to do so. After a very hectic Term Three, I finally had some time these holidays to pack up and get ready to move on to my new school, Haeata Community Campus.

So, clearing out things and digitally sorting things meant I found out all sorts of interesting facts which I thought I would share. I didn't want others to go through the same difficulties and some of the ideas might allow you to prepare yourselves early if you are thinking of leaving.

I started by tidying up my desk and my corner in the office.
I was amazed how little I took away with me. I remember in previous schools having large amounts of books and folders to take with me, but now almost all that I do is online and I only took a couple of bags of my books away with me. I was stunned. There was also very little rubbish - I got a recycle bin in, thinking that I was going to fill it with junk but really only had a small pile of paper to throw away.
But wait - the digital me, that is a different story. Where to start...
Making sure someone has the passwords to the sites I used for school. Changing the Admins on the Facebook pages. Making a list of all those subscriptions I have under my school address and changing them all over. I now have a gmail account for all those in future - I call it my Music Sue account so I can subscribe to lists, still get all the information, but don't have to change everything if I move schools again. This goes for my Microsoft Educator account, my TKI lists - everything to do with work. I had already made sure Twitter and my blog were on a different account, but I should have made this extra one a long time ago! It also gave me an email to give to staff to keep in touch, rather than giving my personal one, or my new school one (which I didn't know at the time).I also use it for my Youtube channel, putting up music instruction videos that I make using StaffPad.

 Reminder: Make a "work" email to use for subscriptions.

I had great difficulty trying to copy files from my OneDrive when they were not synced to my computer due to syncing problems with the Surface Pro4. I got around this by using a different computer and syncing that so I could just drag them onto an external hard drive. Also, huge problems with the new Sharepoint - FINALLY (and I mean hours) worked out I had to be in Internet Eplorer to enable the "Open in Explorer" button to work (which was one fix I found) then found out you can't download more than one file at a time anyway! Grrrr - spent a good few hours downloading files that I had put up to share with others and not saved elsewhere. **Update - just managed to move my Sways to another account - get the shareable link, then open in your new account and duplicate. Phew :) But it has also made me realise how easy it is to use someone else's Sway. More thought required about using Sway.

Reminder:  Don't save just in Sharepoint.

Oh, the next school is a Google school so that won't be an issue there, but down the track I hope Microsoft sorts that!
Exporting OneNotes worked well - easy to transfer sections, and whole notebooks. Love OneNote - have I mentioned that before?

Plants - I had a real dilemma about whether to take my pot plants or not - I don't have room for them at home and my new school is not built yet so I decided to leave them. I hope someone waters them.

The first few days of the holidays I spent doing marking (students handing in work on the last day of term!!), helping set up the teacher trainee who is taking my classes so she knew what to do for the four weeks of seniors in Term 4, and helping run the auditions for the Shcool of Music for 2017. Still doing what I called a brain download - trying to make sure that all the information I know is transferred across. Difficult when you are in charge of an area. I had started to write "how to" sheets, but never managed to do all of them.

Reminder: Make "how to" sheets wherever possible - for everything!

The last week of term was full of farewells, made a little tricky as I was away for a few days - although it seemed to make it easier for the staff and students to plan evil things for me! Reminder - do not go away for a few days in the week you leave a school.
The staff meeting on Wednesday morning was lovely, some awesome words spoken and nearly a tear shed - tried hard to keep it all together! The Performing Arts staff gave me a lovely bottle of whisky which I am keen to crack open with one or two of them around to help me. From the Hagley staff I got a beautiful pounamu bracelet and earrings. A lovely gift and something I will cherish as I move on.
That evening was our music showcase concert. I had an inkling that something might happen as one of my groups was last on the programme, which was unusual. It was a real pleasure to conduct the Junior Jazz Band for the last time and I was so proud of all the students over the evening. A few of the students gave me some really heartfelt words and the tears welled when the audience gave me a standing ovation in the middle of the evening. So, the final item came, my group sang but they didn't leave the stage. Sure enough, the planning had been done - Nanako Sato, a most amazing music teacher, had written a version of Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious for the students to sing and play for me. They'd been rehearsing all week - easy, since I was away! I was blown away and the flowers and gifts were amazing. It was a really special evening.

Reminder: Do not go away the week you are leaving.

Then I had drinks after school on Thursday where a few of my dearest and finest colleagues gathered and we had a good chat. Many of my students gave me gifts and the wine, flowers, chocolates and my blue teddy are all amazing. On the final day I was called out of class to "shift my car", only to find it covered in Gladwrap with beautiful messages all over it. The boys were close by filming my reaction and gleefully posted it on Facebook. Lucky I just smiled at them....
The cards and gifts were overwhelming and I really felt quite emotional all week. Part of me so excited about my new job, part of me sad to leave such amazing students and staff.

My holidays are full of two things:
My teacher side: professional reading, learning more Google Apps, writing blogs, learning to use my new Mac, Tweeting, and sorting my digital self so I can find things easily.
My personal side: spending time with my children, painting a bathroom and gardening for my mother, gardening for me, reading and getting the pool ready for swimming.

 I'm excited about my new job and look forward to learning new things. Bring it on.