Thursday, 12 October 2017

ULearn17 - Day One - Wednesday

My notes - these are purely the notes I take during the sessions, not my thoughts or ideas. For more information please get in touch!

Keynote - Eric Mazur @eric_mazur

Physics at Harvard

B C. Before computers
lecturing because that is how he learnt physics so that is what he did
Asked to teach physic to pre-med students who didn't want to learn. Got high ratings and students did well. He believed he was a good teacher.
Note taking, listening talking demonstrating
 transmission of information
 Can you transmit knowledge? needs to be constructed
 He did not ask "how" he was going to teach but "What"
 There was a text. Most would buy the book - why when the lecturer read it all. Was concerned if the students have the book and he has the book what does he do in the classroom? He found the perfect book to use -it was out of print. Why hand out notes at end of class? -so they stay. Feedback was that Prof Mazur is lecturing straight from his notes.
 This scene all over the world -an instructor delivering information to students. Is education the transfer of information?
 If it was in the 20th century you would just want to watch a video. Put all your classes online.
 How much interaction in a lecture based class? You turn into a passive observer
What more is there? relationships, knowledge
 You need to take information and extract the how that lets you do something with that information. They learnt by rote.

The force concept Inadori -need to understand force.  Tests the understanding of Newton law. Uses just words. Every student recite Newton's law-all know it. But something happens when replace the numbers 1 and 2 by the words truck and car
 Made him rethink approach to teaching 2 step process.
 I. Transfer of information
 2. Opportunity to assimilate that information.
 Where did you make sense of Information? Did it happen sitting in a room with some talking to you? Or sitting with friends or going over notes?
 In class we do 1. and leave students to do the hard part 2.
 We should focus on 2. He called it inverted. Not called flipped at that time
 Teach by questioning rather than by telling - Socrates said first.
 Could not get it until he told them to talk to each other. Then they learnt it. The curse of knowledge is that it is hard for us to think like a new learner
 30- 70% get it right, then find someone else with a different answer. Walk round and listen in.
Question - Think - Poll - Discuss - RePoll - Explain,  then repeat all over again.
He didn't show them the first poll.
Good things about this process:
 1. no sleeping
 2. know where they are at
 3. they get feedback
 4. personalises learning
When he asks the question it needs to be a different type of question to show they can apply the information
Get fired up and awaken cunosity. We are all born scientists. Our brains want to understand the world around us. Turned that off to just give me the answer to pass the test.
 I. You made a commitment
 2. externalised your answer
 3. moved from answer and fact to reasoning
 4. You became emotional invested in the process

how to effectively transfer information outside of the classroom
 transfer pace set by video
viewer passive
 attention tanks as time passes
 isolated Individual experience
When they watch prevideo they turn up the speed, not pause.
 Transfer pace set by reader
 Viewer active. Brain more active reading than view or listen
 isolated (individual)
no accountability

every student prepared for every class without extra effort
 Perusall social learning platform  
 Make it social
Can see who is on line at same time as you reading the text
 Can highlight-and a chat for each passage
Question button-can increment and can click the yes it helped me tick
 How to get students [ participate?
 Alan November. who own the leaning-book
 We destroy intrinsic motivation.
 Use combination of intrinsic and extrinsic motivation
 rubric based assessment
must demonstrate thoughtful  reading and interpretation
 quantity 10-20
 timelines-before class
 distribution-not entered
 fully automated assessment
 Gradebook, and it connects pure-class and in-class activities Can see what they and don't know. Has confusion report. 3 main questions they have
Intrinsic motivation-fun to be online, others on chat
Lots of research Data  - 81% spend 2-6hrs/wk reading
 Performance significantly higher
 Can use class time more productively
 Education is not just about getting students to do what we do
 I want my students to solve the problems I can not yet solve.

Some of the sessions have an amazing infographic done  - thanks to Reflection Graphics for this!

The New Technologies Curriculum - Tim Bell

Not expected to teach it next year.
 Not much change to the Curriculum more about if being implemented.
 More devices than people In the room
 Some people feel excluded from tech.
Digits can represent teacher - got them to colour in by numbers and put all the sheets together which made a picture of their teacher.
 Telogis transport company who work out the shortest way to go to all stops
 Comp Science travelling salesmen
 Saved fuel by calculating shortest route. Telogis made millions. On his app to work out Delivering 7 machines takes 30 sees. 14 machines takes 9 years. 21 machines takes 3,854,700,623 years
 No one knows the fastest way to find the fastest route
Good concept to show they are not exponentially fast.
 About being empowered to change that. A computer that was a million times faster. Get 1000 machines still take3 years  to fill up 24 coke machines.
 Hope students are better then you
 How long are people prepare to wait.
Comp science Psychology:
 What is the shortest distance between two things that you can't tell the difference instant - less than 1/10 second - As a designer -1/10 second too long
 Have a conversation - pause for a second. Conversation Speed is about a second
 This stuff affects our lives
 Doing lots of calculations use lots of batteries power
One thing to have an idea but some things need basis knowledge, they have lots of problems with algorithm
Digital tech is just algorithms on digits
 Is it ethical to recognise faces?
 Just because we can do it, should we?
 Need to understand effects of what we do
True of computer, fit bit, anything. If you write a program you need to know these six things - storage, input, output, sequence, selection, iteration. 
 Scratch-has all six. Not teaching" Scratch" but teaching programming. By the end of primary school be good to have all 6 understood.
Technology NZ 3rd largest export.
 TDD -Test driven design
 What do we want to achieve
 What is the algorithm
 Code it
 No single program is right answer
 Digital Technologies-Could be car remote, mic, not just computers.
 Computer to computer science is like a stove to cooking

Digital learning should be taught digitally

Presenter: Simon Alexander (a student)

Tubetorials - STEAM based. Why - Digi tech changing quickly
New draft curriculum had problem with new resources. Teachers can struggle so they decided to create these to help.
How do children learn in their own time? They watch YouTube
Why would you read a book? Millions of followers of Youtubers - see this one for Minecraft by AshDubh.
Tubetorials engage children:
Learning via Youtube format
Children learn from other children
Work at own pace
Same learning format for all programmes
Get one login for whole school
Learning does not stop at the school gate
Didn't like building a robot with marshmallows and skewers
One school uses it for Scratch and TinkerCad (3D printing)
Classroom assistant:
Beginner skill level - they can lead the class
Moderate - support
High - We embed learning and fill the gaps
What they teach:
Scratch Junior - for beginners, then move onto Scratch
TinkerCad - teaches geometry and measurement
Stop Motion and Stop Motion Studio - quick and easy to use for iPad. Writing script, storyboard etc.
LegoEV3 ($900 for education version!), VEXIQ, Mbot ($200 plus sensors - good transition from Scratch for coding), Edison (about $80 and drag and drop coding), not really robots - Sphero, Ozobot
Should be max of 2 kids per robot
Edison - can code with a barcode - drive over them and hook them so they want to program it themselves.
Not very accurate on carpet - need a level hard surface
3D printer - buy two of the $900 ones
Free for this term and for the first term next year. Then $1 per child for access to the whole site
End goal to pay for their Uni.

One sausage sizzle covers it all

Transforming your classroom using financial literacy

Presenter: Colin Hill (Linwood Ave), Victoria Brookland (Linwood Ave), Micah Hocquard (Chch)

Since started using financial literacy, creativity has improved.
Students not too young at any age.
As soon as you start learning to manage money better, the better you are
NZC has lots of supporting material
Banqer, ASB Getwise, Young Enterprise Trust. Banqer NZ developed
Is an environment to learn about money.
Can integrate into all areas of the curriculum
Can set up a virtual classroom - set up bank accounts for your students. Can pay rent, wifi, get money for jobs, give them bonuses
Can be uses for motivation or fine. Pollution fine for leaving things around.
Victoria and Colin joined 2 classes half way through the year. Needed something new as a fresh start. Banqer provided a good way to manage things.
To start it was less about financial literacy and more about managing the space.
Monday morning auction - would bid for furniture and hire for the week.
More now about Savings, lending, tax and Kiwisaver
Conversations at home - having a bank account at home. They are decile 2. Big thing to go home and talk to parents
Buying a house - like being a grown up with fake money. Taught them how much to spend and save and lots of maths skills.
Students aware of bills and shopping, but also understands the difference between owning and renting.
Parent Portal
Banking - basics, lending and debt/interest on savings
Income and careers - basic income and careers and employment (student making own jobs)
Kiwisaver (percentages and ratios and stats)
Property Real Estate and property insurance
Statistics (literacy/Capabilities
Parent Portal
Bank account basics
Lending and debt
Interest on savings
Personal loans
Can set it up simply
He starts with paper money and give them for all sorts of things. Everyone starts off on level playing field.
Put in proper references - notices back - $1000 banqer dollars if they get them back.
Has lots of videos on the Teacher side so you can watch them to see how to do things
Put password glued in their maths book.
Also cyber safety - making sure they have good password - one also sent phishing email for password and removed money since he could get in to their account.
Students in class rent desks.
Set up debit for power and wifi.
Rent out computers or space
Regular payment
Can interact with each other - talk about basics of not doing 1 cent account with a silly name. Talk about it looks like they have been hacked and would have account locked. Parents can also see that
Students work out interest goes in on Wed so they transfer all across on Tues night.
Arranged and Unarranged overdraft - can set a maximum and an interest rate
Auction hammer
They buy things like - sitting on a certain chair for a day. Yr 3 obsessed with it. Have to pay for power and things.
Can do just banking
Can set up a base income of pocket money
Did one where they had different jobs picked out of a hat and got the income
Quality and skills
Choosing referees
Can select students as bankers
Job market - try to change the jobs termly. The accountant probably don't change it. Kids do it for them now.
Can get fired. Students can find jobs and see a gap in the market
Banqer are really good at getting back to you
Term deposit - can lock savings acc
Let them into Kiwisaver really early
Go into retirement in Term 4 for last few weeks so they use it.
Personal loans
Credit scores - miss payments and it goes down, pay on time etc go up.
Property module term 3
Can set price and interest of mortgage
They set up googledoc with pics of houses. Corner sections and up the wall - have a wall of houses with streets and everything.
In one class - one mortgage at a time so others can't monopolise. Can own more, but only1 mortgage
Can set up disasters and property insurance
Can add a pool or a townhouse added on, but have to sort insurance. Sell house have real estate fees and reinsure new house.
Can make voluntary repayments.
Has a disaster dice each Monday - need insurance. If they lose everything they go bankrupt and it resets.
One went bankrupt and others donated money to him.
Taxation - enable halfway through term one - can set levels. They know which day tax comes out. Any income that comes in gets taxed. They work out clever ways - don't pay me back today or I'll get taxed on it.
There are stats to see how students went in quiz. Wil show you ups and downs with modules
Some don't engage but come back on board once they see they are missing out. Early adopters get the couch because they get rent from property - others get
Monday - renting furniture and disasters on Monday.
8.30 Bankers come in and do banking each morning
Sign up as a teacher - it's free - kiwibank sponsor it
Parents love it
Can have multiple teachers and multiple classes
There is a community to share ideas
Resource hub is amazing

Wednesday, 11 October 2017

ULearn17 - Changing Spaces

These are my notes from the Changing Spaces workshop held at Rototuna Junior High, Hamilton. They are not edited particularly, so some may not make sense, but they are here for others to read and get ideas from.  I have more photos and details if you want more, just ask!

Mark Osborne - Opening Keynote

Mark talked about the change taking place in society and how different things will be in 13 years time
Years ago -2004DARPA Grand Challenge million dollar challenge -  an autonomous vehicle and now look where we are. 10 million people will lose jobs because of driverless cars. Driving big rig on US. Roads - now being done with driverless vehicle.
The last 13 Years been disruptive. Prepare students for their future not our past. Bricklayers and traditional trades will disappear. 3D Printer will print garages, offices and houses. They are also printing slabs for large houses and bridges.
 Automated narrative generation. Looks at data and emulates the style. Works with statistics

 Robots writing poetry and reports. Communication important still, not writing though. Radiologists 7% wrong, where as robots can be 100% correct. SAM the Robot does not need a salary when laying bricks and can work 24/7.
Robot outperforms human surgeon. Shift in skills required. Where should we focus our attention? 885,448 jobs will be at risk. Need to reskill.
We are fighting this.
We need to have aspirations for the green
Brain activation during task -Miller. Averaged them all but he worked out that if we taught the average we would miss 14 of the 16.
"Neuroscience is crystal clear on this point: when it comes to the brain, just like when it comes to learning, variability is the rule, not the exception." Dr. Todd Rose 
What are we doing?
Working in teams needed
 algorithms can be done by computers
 Computer Science degree out of date in a few years because of changes to technology
Less important in workforce: (suited for rows of desks in schools)
Undertaking routine or repetitive tasks
Solving problems using straight recall
Working on your own
Applying existing rules or models to solve problems
Relying on formal schooling
More important in workforce: (suited for ILEs)
Undertaking non-routine and unique, tasks
Solving unstructured problems that don't have easy solutions
Working in (diverse) teams
Adapting approaches to respond to new information
Relying on ongoing (life-long) learning
(Adapted from Levy & Murnane 2013)

Traditionally teachers were all of the knowledge knowledge in a building. now:
 photo math solves problems just by scanning it
 translate it - can translate almost any language
 augmented reality on fixing pump - so you can see how to do things yourself

Mark then went on to talk about negative feedback about ILEs in the media:
Not everybody understands. Been some negative stuff but she's right spaces don't make the difference.
"Buildings alone are not enough; it is about relationships and changing cultures and practices."
Blackmore, Bateman et al. (2011) 
 "Well-designed primary schools boost children's academic performance in reading, writing and maths. Differences in the physical characteristics of classrooms explain 16% of the variation in learning progress over a year. "
Barrett & Zhang (2015) 

 Nothing wrong in calling for research. But no research behind streaming or banding no evidence to say sitting in rows work. Where is the evidence to say the current system works? The evidence says it's not.
Results from collaborative partnerships and co-teaching included: increased overall achievement, fewer disruptive problems, and decreased referrals for behaviour. Teachers also reported being happier and not feeling so isolated.
Schwab (2003)

The tensions of co-teaching - negotiating team-based conflictsPresenters: Paula Wine, Rebecca Foster

Started with shared Vision. They do an induction. Need a why and a vision.
All staff are given a copy to read and reread "The Rhetoric and the Reality" by David Hood
Agree on behaviour management. Need to get it right from the start.
Tracking students they use supervising teacher groups
4 teachers 109 students they put priority learners and ES0L apart
No recipe. Depends on students. 4 workshops vertically grouped for 20 min each of the same concept keeps them moving. Duration of the term  one semester then it changes for the students. Teams mixed regularly
Year 7 and 8 different to 9 and 10 who are used to changing teachers.

Giving students choice to make sure they cover everything. Upskill students to teach parents about what they are doing. Student perspectives of learning in a flexible space.
They start with Co-Teaching tool - Issues for discussion and planning 
They start with this tool. When the teams don't do this, it falls apart. Do individually first, then get together and add.
Great to find out what they feel will make them happy. They do this each module. Good to understand where they are coming from.
How long will meetings be? Need to work on who does what and workload even.
Pet peeve being late means trying to be on time
Co teachings VS cohabitating
Working with Personalities and Communication styles
Personality test - If you want more info on this, I have a handout!
We did this test and it put us into one of four quadrants:
Doer, Talker, Thinker or Upholder
Commmunicating with Talker - you need to make it fun-talk lots
 Upholder -make it nice want harmony
 Doer -  get it done get to the point. If you are aware then makes it easier
 Thinker- get it right data, facts
 What happens when we are a stressed? Can default back to base personality
Being aware of types can't change how they are but being Ok with that help

Have time released together to plan.
 Elephant in the room what is not 0k? Use post it notes
Water cooler -whats happening for you - use a Padlet. What can we do to resolve it?
 Kitchen table. Time to come together and talk
Useful for students as well
 LMS is key into teaching, looking at Schoology Needs to be collaborative
 Agreed systems:
 What do we feel aboutFeed back, moderation feed forward
 All students need to access feedback the same way
 Peers help access feedback -they mark a third each week.
 eing engaged is knowing a teacher will look at work. Have exemplars, moderation.
 Trust is essential
 Nothing good comes of talking behind back in or people to talk to each other. Need to talk directly to person.
 Never do induction as well as the early days. Often new staff with experienced teacher anyway.
 Always start a staff meeting with fun- usually a game to build team. Something to use with students too.

Education Perfect -can do test and then it is targeted learning form there
Get to show adults what they have done.

A Year of creation, collaboration and evaluation 

Presenters: Jason Sharma and Jordan Neil

We were lucky to go for a tour through the Senior High area of Rototuna which has just opened this year.

Jason - Maths and Commerce
Jordan -Eng and Media Studies
What would we have wanted to know before starting this journey? (They started this year with 100 students at Yr 11/12)
Like building a plane while flying it.
Always do circles with sensitive topics - small enough staff to do that
Jenny Mosley - share the highlight of the day - can pass
Full school approach - do Mon and Fri - behaviour strategy as well
They talked about co-teaching strategies
Theme based approach? Harder to get curriculum areas covered. Started with that and found it really hard to integrate the assessment. Look at the assessment skill at the same time.
Be strategic in assessments you can offer - some that you can offer - Stats. Science there are some Yr 11 and 12 in same modules. Only offering 2 standards of stats for the semester.
Pathways and projects and Tertiary.
Goal is depth not getting credits.
Externals needed for endorsement. Don't have a huge emphasis on that unless needed for student/
Or just connect with another curriculum area - which is what they have done.
Academic and Pastoral role for all staff
Students track themselves - they use KAMAR as an LMS
Pastoral - each student needs an advocate - emails go to the teacher assigned. Anxiety and wellbeing - relationships - heavy investment of time outside. Trust. Dean, pastoral.
Your wellbeing comes first - refer on, they don't take on that hat of counselling.
They have deans as well and a DP to oversee.
Very clear pastoral system. Know what you are referring and what not.
Engineering/Medicine - know who they are through tracking. Can say they want to focus on own need.
They buy into the module. Requires a lot of planning - a lot of accountability
2 teachers and 2 curriculum areas per module
Level 2 NCEA over 2 years
Speed dating to find who they wanted to work with for modules - had 5 mins to pitch your subject and you could see that you matched.
There are natural ones
What is English about? What is it you want your students to be able to do - looked at the curriculum
Front packed the curriculum. What is the meaning of the subject and the skills in it.
Use of patterns and relationships for stats - what other subject can do this.
Big brother module - looking at ethics
Media - understanding ethics
English - write a report or do a speech
Stats - do the numbers
If you know your subject well, it can be quite engaging
15 weeks a module
Independent learning time - can opt into that for externals
Ehara taku toa, he takitahi, he toa takitini

My success should not be bestowed onto me alone, as it was not individual success but success of a collective

Changing Minds and changing lives through changing spacesPresenters: Rosalie Reiri and Pania Smith

Māori in our childhood was not used in books. 
How you were reflected in your school spaces? 
Books-Māori not shown in a positive light

NZ Lit in 1950's The Kind Teddy Bear
The Ring Inz Māori Comedy about kapahaka
Being connected is key impact for students
Travis a Yr11 student from Rototuna repeated struggled at Girls High and another school. Expelled from both.
 "My teachers gave up on me before I gave up on myself". Got an interview. Natasha let her in and she was so happy. It was hard as 2 others gave up on her. Kapahaha, Te reo, Mau Rākau -Maori fighting
Teachers showcase us
Māori teacher key factor
Strategies to engage Māori learners whānau
Kapahaha as a vehicle
Have high standards
Gets whanau in to watch them get ready, have kai, plus staff giving info for dates. Took others out to help in Kitchen. Best for them to go out and help
Set the bar high.
My view of what they should have is different to the students. Need to reconnect to Marae and tikanga
Having access to te reo means family learning too.
Matua always picking kids up. Not having to worry about transport
Included whanau by asking them to come in and share talents.
Role models are really important. We all have a responsibility to make these kids amazing.
Angus McFarlane Bringing Māori into mainstream
Went on hikoi around the area. Cultural Narrative
Welcome at end of year for new staff. Older staff said they have to go on hikoi. Give people time to own and think Māori
Interview with Anaru McKeogh (teacher at Rototuna)
Integrated learning through mau rākau
Māori teacher working with the maths teacher and the science teacher to integrate the learning.
MMA=Mixed Mathematical Arts
Me mate ururoa, kei mate wheke - Die like shark and not like an octopus

Teachers are learners

Sunday, 8 October 2017

Concussion Part 3 - Step by step

It's the school holidays. Not that I need them as many others really do, but it's a chance to do more school work for me without being in the kura. Part of writing this blog is a reflection on what has been happening for me, and for work as well. This blog being even more important as I find myself back at work for short periods of time. It is a time of putting things together - making my life whole again with a mix of home and work, without pushing too hard and going backwards.

It looks like this in my return to work plan:
Week 1 and 2 -  1 hour a day for 3 days a week
Week 3 - up to 3 hours a day (1 contact with students and 2 marking/planning) for 3 days a week
Week 4 - up to 3 hours a day (1 contact with students and 2 marking/planning) for 4 days a week
Each week after that goes up in hours, then in days - hopefully getting back to full time later this year, but also being realistic and not going backwards by pushing too much.

I got to week 4 - and even then, week three became a 2 day week as I hit a curved ball. It is amazing how the little things throw you, but on the last day of Week 3, I got a puncture. I sat in the car and cried for ages before working out what I had to do, with the help of my son and daughter, which in reality was very simple (call the AA!!!) but just shows how difficult simple tasks can be when you have a brain injury. Anything out of the ordinary reduces me to tears. Suffice to say, I did not go to work that afternoon as I was shattered and slept instead. Each week I managed to do a bit more and although it is a slow recovery, it is a recovery. I have to remind myself I am getting better each week. I know that 2 months ago I couldn't have gone to work for 4 mornings, so that is progress. Little steps.

Over the last few weeks I have had a lot of appointments at Southern Rehab, with Occupational Therapists, Doctors and Psychologists. They have been amazing and although a little overwhelming at first, it is nice to have a team of people looking after me and all wanting the best outcomes. I had an interesting session with the Psychologist around what I felt where two sides of my recovery. The emotional side that keeps telling me that it's all a bit hard and it seems like I am always bursting into tears versus the analytical side that keeps telling myself that I am getting better and every week I can do something else. Getting these two to intertwine and work together will mean better acceptance of where I am at. He asked me a really good question about what I am aiming for each week - I can't be 100% at the moment, so I need to accept that.
The Doctor is sending me for an MRI scan - I keep joking to say it's to see if I have a brain, but it's really to check there is nothing else going on and that this will just get better with time. Not too fond of MRIs, noisy things, but worth it to just rule out anything else that could be stopping my brain from recovery. I am also looking forward (sort of) to a neurological assessment in a few weeks. It will be interesting to see what I can and can't do.

So now it's the school holidays. I have a week where I am going to do some work every morning, to keep up the improvement plan and keep moving forward. I also am heading off to Ulearn next week. I was to be presenting, but am now just going to go and enjoy the learning. It will take quite a bit of self management as I know I won't last a whole day with people unless I take my brain breaks and rest whenever I can. It will probably feel a bit like I am being antisocial, but my introverted self won't mind too much! I am looking forward to being in a different environment with different people. Not cooking meals, looking after children or driving will be a bonus.

So there it is. Slow progress towards being back to normal, but at least it's progress. Frustration at times, tears at times but also some great moments. Putting it together. And the one thing to remember, as my mother kindly reminded me, is the serenity prayer. So applicable in so many situations. Thanks Mum.

Saturday, 15 July 2017

Concussion Part 2 - The long and winding road

About 2 weeks ago I wrote the beginnings of this blog. It has taken a few twists and turns since then, but I thought I would write it as I did on paper, starting from where my last blog (
Part 1) left off.
After my second appointment with Insight I felt maybe I could get back to work part time before the end of term as one of the OTs suggested that was a possibility. I was very keen to get back, missing the staff and students, and to be honest, getting a little lonely being at home all day even though my children are around for some of it. I was still struggling with a lot of symptoms and they were really getting in the road and annoying me.

The frustrations (two weeks ago):

Driving: Even a trip down the road to the library is a mammoth task. It takes a lot of concentration to drive and I feel so tired afterwards.
Decision Making: I can't think on my feet. Anything sideways throws me.
Emotions: I am up and down, in tears, smiling, not knowing what will happen next.
Fatigue: I am so tired, even with sleeping long hours. Going places or being with people makes me feel like a vacuum cleaner is sucking the life out of me, I just get so tired.
Nausea: Any movement makes me feel sick. For those of you who have had morning sickness nausea, it's like that all day. I had issues with the earthquakes and my balance and I feel the same now. My balance is seriously messed up.
Cancelling things: Having to not go to things that I had planned. Having to organise not going!
Split thoughts; Wanting to do things sometimes and knowing that maybe it's not the best idea.
Noise: I am certainly sensitive to noise. One day the neighbours had their drive laid and I almost had to leave the house. Luckily it stopped before it got too much.
Lack of reading: I am normally someone who reads a lot, whether it is an article or a book, I am always keen. This has certainly slowed me down as I can only read for a short time.
Feeling like a very old person: I am quite slow and sometimes feel a bit like a fraud sitting around all day, but I really just can't do things.
No screens: Not watching TV, using a computer or phone takes a large chunk out of my normal pastime so it's hard to think of doing very little.

The positives: (yes there are some positives!)

Learning to relax and do calming things
Taking time to go for a walk each day
Writing this blog
The amazing support from other people. Having others who have been there before has been a huge help. To know that what I am experiencing is "normal". Which is the main reason for writing my blog - I am hoping this will raise awareness and help others.
I am improving all the time. It's slow, but it's happening.
Not drinking alcohol. I must say I do miss my glass of wine sometimes but I really have not felt like any alcohol at all. Can't be a bad thing.

After I wrote the above, I finished my last blog and posted it to my Facebook page and my Education page. I spent a bit of time online and watched an amazing video aboutClark Elliot who had concussion for eight years (makes me shudder just thinking about it), just about lost his job, family and life, and then was put in touch with a woman who worked with him and in 3 weeks he was back to 70% of his old self. He has written a book that I mentioned in my last blog and I looked up a few articles on neuroplasticity, thinking, I wish we had someone like that in Christchurch. Within a couple of hours I had a post that was about to change my recovery. An old school friend (Natoya Rose) posted a comment that I am sure she won't mind me quoting 
Doing nothing doesn't actually do much at all. If you think about the result of these injuries severing or damaging the neurons in the brain, meaning that information does not get processed and utilised in the same way, and a diminished capacity to perform results. Unless you do receive and appropriate therapy, which understands the mechanism of what is going on here, it can indeed take months or years, and some people never recover from them. The bottom line is that the function of neuroplasticity can be utilised in facilitating the brain to restore these severed connections. And that one doesn't take months or years. In most minor injuries profound improvements can be seen from the first therapy session.

This changed everything. I contacted Natoya Rose from Visual Perception and she came round that afternoon and I had my first session with her. Before we had finished I felt the fog lift and my fatigue basically disappeared. I couldn't believe it, it was like magic. I felt so much better. Over the next few days I could do so much more. Still not 100% but certainly felt very different. My next appointment with Insight was me telling them I wanted to work with Natoya as my provider instead, so I changed to her and also sorted with ACC to get my neck seen to. The team at Tower Junction Physio are amazing and already the headache from my neck has gone and I am sleeping better. After my second session with Natoya I am still on the improve and am managing to do a lot more in my day. The nausea is less and I am managing more time with screens. There are still frustrations of not driving too far, or lengthy reading, but I can do so much more in a day. This article from Natoya explains a bit more about the process she works through.
So I have made many steps. Each day I have been doing one more thing to see how I go. I did push it a bit far last week - went over to school to say hello. So desperate to see students and staff and feel like I was going to be able to get there soon. Unfortunately it just proved how not ready I was just yet as the next day I paid for it by not being able to do much at all. It was worth it though, in a weird sort of way. I miss my job.

So here I am, almost seven weeks down the track, still colouring in but certainly on the mend and getting there quickly with the help of Natoya. Another of my friends, Marc, commented on my last blog with this gem:
 If you consider that everything happens for a reason, then you might want to take the time to evaluate what's most important to you in your life. It clearly isn't being 'crazy busy'...hell, that's just a way of distracting yourself. To think clearly you need to empty the mind, heart and soul of all the minutiae which ultimately doesn't really matter. Take stock of where you are and where you might like to be headed. 

Indeed, having all this time at home has given me the time to reflect and think about life, the universe and everything. It has made me look at everything through a different lens. I do believe in fate and this turn of events was obviously sent to challenge and change me. It has got me thinking about what I do and why, how much I do and what for. I have thought long and hard about what I do every day and what is worth doing in this life. This has shown me a lot about myself, some of which I was not really prepared to see or to admit to. I found out who my friends are and where the support is when I need it, as well as how bad I am at asking for help. It's made me think about friendships and the different levels as well as the way those levels all work.

How often do we get weeks to stay at home and think about things? This is a blessing in disguise in a weird sort of way, a challenge and an amazing time that I have to reflect on my life. My road is looking better.

Saturday, 24 June 2017

Concussion Part 1 - The Art of Doing Nothing

I am a busy person. I have a full time job teaching and 2 teenagers to run around with karate and dance as well as being involved in fundraising and organising for community groups. I have my own interests in gardening and genealogy and technology to keep up with. My life is always full on and I love it.
Then I turned to look at something going on in a room to the side and walked smack into a glass door and my life has changed for a while. I stood for a minute after hitting my head and knee, thought "that hurt - a lot" and carried on with the day at work. I went to work the next day, feeling a bit tired, but not really out of sorts. The next day I woke up and could hardly get out of bed. I felt nauseous and exhausted and had a headache. I slept most of the day and then the next day decided to go to work anyway as I felt slightly better and there were things I wanted to do. Halfway there I thought I shouldn't be driving, made an appointment with the doctor and came home with the diagnosis of concussion. It was a long weekend coming up so I was told to go back if I didn't feel any better after the weekend. Sure enough I was back at the doctor on the Tuesday and 3 weeks later I'm still at home. The support I have had has been amazing, from friends, family, colleagues and services, everyone has been so helpful, but it has been exceptionally frustrating and I thought I would share my thoughts, in the hope that maybe they would help someone down the track or at least give some insight into this strange thing called concussion.
After that first week of feeling shattered, frustration really set in. The amount of things I have on the go at any one time is huge. Rearranging, cancelling, organising and changing things takes almost as much, or more effort as doing them myself. Passing on information for the most urgent things took energy and I was so lucky that we work the way we do at school and I didn't have to do huge amounts in that area as well. It also backed up my mantra of always documenting everything at school. I have learnt in the past to make sure I have shared all the information I gather, particularly aorund communication with students. Keeping a track of those conversations is invaluable when all of a sudden you are not there and someone else has to pick up the thread. Support from my kura has been fantastic, food has been flowing in so I don't have to cook and sometimes this can be quite overwhelming - I'm not good at taking help and support from others. I've been quite humbled by the help I have received.

In the first week ACC (Accident Compensation Coorporation for those not in NZ) called me and asked lots of questions about the accident and work and what I needed support-wise and I was referred onto the Insight people, commonly known as the Concussion clinic.
The first meeting with the Occupational Therapist (OT from here on) from Insight was tiring. Many questions were asked and there was lots of thinking about how I feel. Marking scores from 1-10 is always weird for me. My pain tolerance is quite high and I know that for me I'd be very reluctant to go anywhere near an 8,9 or 10 but then, does that mean that I am playing down the pain or nausea? The biggest overwhelming feature was that they told me to do nothing. Don't watch TV, don't use a computer. Nothing. How do you do nothing? I don't have that in my DNA. Rest she said, listen to music. It could be months she said. Months!? Surely not I thought, it was just a bump on the head. They said I have to be 100% at home before I can start to go back to work, small steps at a time. I think I came out more confused and stressed than I started.

So my research started. I googled "what to do when you have concussion", "how to do nothing" and a few other choice phrases. I read as much as I could manage (probably too much) and I contacted a friend who has had a very long road with concussion and got the message loud and clear that I needed to , yes, you guessed it, do nothing! She suggested listening to audio books and podcasts and listening to meditation tracks and she also talked about Binaural beats which I went away and looked up. A book she suggested was " AGhost in my Brain" by Clark Elliott and she suggested walking in parks and green areas. A colleague from work connected me with Anna McCone who has written a couple of blogs about her journey very aptly named "The moment that changed my life" and "Concussion I would not wish it on my worst enemy". I was lucky enough to be put in touch with her and had a good conversation around the same thing, doing nothing! I think that being able to talk with other about what they went through, knowing that what I am experiencing is normal, and read about their experiences has been invaluable and part of the inspiration to write this.

After the conversations with these two amazing busy people, I heard very clearly that doing nothing was my only way forward. Not being the type of person who can do that easily, I decided I needed to write myself a timetable that gave me a plan to follow. This was version 1:
Check emails and do urgent things like pay bills etc. max 10 mins
Do 1 thing I need to sort or do for the day (sort transport for kids, appointments etc)
Go for a short walk to the park
Listen to music/podcast
Watch 1 hour TV
Write blog

This soon changed as I realised that listening to music and podcasts also made my head hurt - I think it is partly due to my deafness - I have to work hard to listen, but also when I listen to music I tend to analyse it and listen hard, not just let it wash over me. The joy of being a music teacher.
I added colouring in to my day and this has become my go to for turning my brain off. It now takes up about 3 or 4 hours each day and I am thankful for adult colouring books!
I had a few visitors over the first couple of weeks, particularly from work. It was great but also not so great as it reminded me of what I was missing out on, a severe case of FOMO (fear of missing out). I miss the amazing conversations and the energy that I get from teaching at Haeata. The support has been outstanding from everyone there. I can't explain how wonderful they all are.

The whole problem with not being able to do things, the frustration and the knowledge that I can't do much is something I have thought about a lot and, having work always sitting in my thoughts, have related this to our students. To understand that I have to do things in very small steps has been quite a challenge but also an eye opener. I felt myself slipping into depression and having been there in my past, I was keen to not go there again! After working through why I was feeling that way, I realised it was because I couldn't achieve anything. Everything was too much for me. I felt overwhelmed and everything was out of reach. I needed to break things down and set achievable goals, very much like we need to do for our students.
Small steps are my saviour from feeling depressed and frustrated. Being able to walk to the park is huge. Making dinner without collapsing into tears is a real feat. The little steps mean I am progressing and however small and slow they are, it is forward motion. I'm keen to keep this in mind when I get back to school and show those students that even when they feel it's all too much and too hard, that those little steps can be a gamechanger. Little steps. Every day.

This is the first part of a few blogs that I think will get written. I have been writing them on paper and typing up in short bursts as I can manage (being on the computer I'm not meant to be on...). Part 2 coming in a week or two.

Any suggestions on how to do nothing will be gratefully received.

Tuesday, 2 May 2017

Holiday thoughts

Time to recharge the batteries

Often we hear people talk about the amount of holidays teachers get. I certainly needed mine this time around. A new school, plenty of travel and courses and lots of learning meant that by the time I got to the end of term I was ready for a break. I spent the first few days just reading and baking (something I do to procrastinate) and felt I needed those few days to get myself into a frame of mind where I could do some work, both for school and for home. A large karate tournament for my own children took out a few days in the middle of the holidays, so time went very quickly. I know there was so much more I wanted to achieve, but sometimes you just have to accept it won't get done. Rome wasn't built in a day.

Prep for Term 2

Working on resources for students and looking at ways of getting information and work out there takes time and thought. I have been setting up OneNotes for topics and learning more about some standards I either haven't taught yet, or taught a while ago. Keeping up to date with changes is important and new versions of standards are fairly frequent so even thought I taught some of these a while ago, there were some changes to look at. Rewriting tasks for the cohort I have this year is fun, I enjoy looking at different scenarios and working with ākonga to support their learning.


Modern Learning Environments - those huge spaces with lots of students in them. So many teachers really dislike them and find them difficult to work in. I get it. If you try and teach the way you have always taught, they would be a nightmare. They are not made for teaching large groups of students with a teacher led style of learning. The environment has changed and the teaching has to change to reflect that. Breakout spaces are there for staff to be able to take a group of students in and teach them specific content if required. The open spaces are for students to work in and for staff to roam and be facilitating the learning. This is a whole different mindset and requires students and staff to learn new skills to enable them to get the most from the space and the learning. Many of the conversations I have with teachers start with "but how do you teach in those spaces" and the answer is, we don't - well, not in the way they are thinking.


I am always reading new articles around education and learning.  This is continual Professional Development for me, along with Twitter and Facebook groups that I subscribe to. I am continually searching out articles and watching talks. There are some fascinating schools out there doing different things including a school learning through roleplaying. I looked this up further as I was keen to find out more about LARPing! You can read more on Sue's Education Page on Facebook where I post a lot of my articles so I can refer back to them, but also to share ideas with others and get people thinking.

Term Two

I am spending some time in the other hapori this term in my role as the Specialist Classroom Teacher (SCT) and am looking forward to seeing how learning is delivered in the younger age groups. This is an area that I have a lot to learn about and I am keen to get started. I have been doing some reading around National Standards and Bilingual Provisions in schools and am finding it very interesting. I am looking forward to learning more.
Musically there is a lot going on this term, with many competitions and groups keen to rehearse. I am working on getting more performances around the kura and in the community by our students. Getting groups motivated and organised can be a real challenge and there is pressure to get things done for a specified date. 
Our work in Ihutai (the Year 11-13 hapori) is developing every day and we have a great team who are motivated to support our ākonga. I am really lucky to be part of this group and working alongside these kaiako and kaiawhina is a real joy. We learn so much when we work together and I can't believe how different it is collaborating with others as opposed to the traditional single cell classroom. This can take some time to get used to for some people and can have it's challenges but I'm in boots and all and would not want to go back to working on my own again. Collaboration is awesome!

Loving it at Haeata - bring on Term Two.