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.