Saturday, 28 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.

Tuesday, 17 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!