Tuesday, December 22, 2009

2010 dont be too quick getting there.

While meeting with by ping buddies #chanellingmyinnerbarb and @mumbleboy we began talking about TOD's for 2010, and we immediately started talking about what we will have for lunch. We then get into the; what shall we do differently next year? I then had 12 interruptions and the conversation went back to the usual hum drum business as usual coverage stuff on TOD's.

NO I SAY - NO. No more of the same. We will be different. We will think differently.
So although we will cover the usual stuff, set some school goals together, and talk about a bit of planning and chat happily over coffee. We will be different.

We have a cool team building activity sussed out- It will be offsite - It will involve a bit of music, food, laughter, teamwork, water, satisfaction, and an easily do-able activity, for all who want to give it a go.
You just gotta get offsite together. It just doesn't happen enough as a staff.

Just for 30 seconds today, I thought "I'm a bit excited about the start of next year". Then I stopped and listened to my senses which were saying "go home you dickhead, your whanau are ready to take a break from all this school crap". I went home, so should you. Switch off your macs, my blog over the next month is gonna be about fishing, golf, harness racing and random stuff.
Its gonna be fun.

Friday, December 18, 2009

are your school reports any good?

We are almost at war in NZ now with the minister of education. how did things escalate so far? why is the union chipping into everything while losing site of lots of things? why is the union our front office, our spokesperson. Now more than ever we need a Principals union. A spokesperson with the ability to lead, gain support, have public appeal and be apollitical. We have had some ridiculous claims firing left and right from anne tolley and francis nelson and earnie and that lady from STA. I'm bored of it all.

So i am against national standards and then i get my sons report and it says
Maths 58% Mean 52% a pleasing year he could have got a better result in the test.

So was the test hard? easy? is he any good at maths? what level is he working at? is he likely to go on and pass ncea/cambridge on that test result? should we pay for a maths tutor? is he actually really good and the teacher he had missed the boat? is he disruptive? is he crusing? does anyone care?

Having a national standard would not have improved his ability in maths but maybe it might get some schools to pull their fingers out on the reporting side.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Make a List - A List of Satisfaction

It's that time of year again, teachers in wind down mode, or wind up mode.
Hi stress levels as families pull on heart strings and want endless arrangements that never suit. Then there is the added pressure of presents and cash flow issues. So what do we do? Well prepared teachers and mothers write lists. They plan it all for the helpless husbands, and total air-heads out there. Those blue-green thinkers who have it all sorted, the list writers.
Well I know I've said this before, but I have to say it again.
But this time start in Feb with the cool things you did in class, write this with your class, refer to your planning if you wish. Write it on the whiteboard, type it with kids, get it done any way you can.

This is your list of satisfaction.
Your list of achievement.
Your list of joy.
Your list that you and your kids can be proud of.

Do it, write it, take a picture, send it to me. I will paste it with this post, we don't need names we just want to celebrate..

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

They aren't all idiots in Parliament

I thought it pertinent that people should know that this guy is in parliament. He is a good man.

Kelvin Davis
Maiden Speech to Parliament
Wednesday 10 December 2008

Whakarongo mai, whakarongo mai.
Whakarongo mai ki tënei uri a Ngatokimatawhaorua
E tu atu ra i te akau o Ipipiri
E tuwhera atu ra te awa o Taumarere-herehere-i-te-riri.
Ka rere ma Otuihu, tae ki nga rekereke o Tapukewharawhara
Raro i a Puketohunoa, ko Puhangahau
Takoto kau nga koiwi tupuna
Ara mai he tëtëkura
Ka hiki te manawa e te kakara reka o Te Karetu
Nga kaitiaki o te ahika ko Ngati Manu
Tihewa mauri Ora

Tena tätou katoa i whakarauikatia mai i raro i te tähuhu o to tätou Whare.

Tena ra hoki koutou töku whänau whanui i patu mai i nga huarahi mai i nga pito tawhiti o te motu ki te tatü ki konei hei tautoko i te kaupapa o te ra nei.

Tena tätou o tätou mate maha.

Mr Speaker I acknowledge and congratulate you on your election to your position.

I also acknowledge the Leaders of the Labour Party, the Hon. Phil Goff and Hon. Annette King. I look forward to working with you both, the Labour Caucus and to making a contribution to our team and nation.

Also I would like to acknowledge and congratulate the Rt. Hon Helen Clark for her formidable leadership of the Labour Party and indeed as Prime Minister of New Zealand for the last nine years. I thank you Helen for the way you honoured my people of Ngati Manu earlier this year when you visited our valley and marae and endorsed my candidacy.

With affection I acknowledge my family and friends. Those who have been able to traverse the length of Te Ika a Maui to be here, especially my wife Moira and my father Panapa, as well as those who couldn’t be here including my children Kelly, Billie and Reweti, my mother Glenys, my brothers Patrick and Greg, my sister Sonya, my brothers and sisters in law, mother and father in law, Tom and Raewyn Hoddle, my numerous nephews and nieces, Aunties and Uncles, cousins and my whänau from Ngati Manu.

I also acknowledge my many tribal connections: in the mid-North to Te Kapotai, Ngati Hine, Ngapuhi whanui, Ngati Wai, Ngati Whatua.

In the Far North I acknowledge iwi Ngati Kuri, Te Aupouri, Ngai Takoto, Ngati Kahu and Te Rarawa – and those of my iwi further south in particular Ngai Tai, Ngati Kahungunu and Ngati Raukawa.

I am honoured to have stood for Labour in the seat of Te Tai Tokerau and although disappointed not to have won it, I acknowledge my whanaunga Hone Harawira who was successful. Tena koe e Hone.

I also congratulate and acknowledge all other Maori members of parliament and hope that Maori will see the benefits of our presence here.

Mr Speaker, I hail from the valley of Karetu. Across the road from our marae stands Puketohunoa one of our ancestral maunga. On the summit of Puketohunoa once dwelled my tupuna Whetoi Pomare. From his whare named Tihema he had sweeping panoramas of the valley and across to Ruapekapeka the site of the last of the battle of the Northern Land Wars.

At the foot of our maunga Puketohunoa flows our Karetu creek which runs seaward and connects with our tupuna awa, known as Taumarere-herehere-i-te-riri.

One of our Ngati Manu waiata connect these three features to one another in the lines, “Tu ana mätou ki runga o Puketohunoa, ka titiro atu ki Ruapekapeka, ka hoki mai ki te puna o oku matua e, e karekare nei e ko Taumarere.”

If you were to drift in the current of first the Käretu creek past the foot of Puketohunoa, in to the flow of Taumarere you would eventually pass by the cradle of our nation, Waitangi, where as we all know in February 1840 a number Maori chiefs, including my tupuna Whetoi Pomare drew their moko onto a piece of paper that is now known as the Treaty of Waitangi.

I would like to believe that when my tupuna Pomare etched the shape of his facial tattoo onto that piece of paper that he did it in the hope that his actions would ensure the future prosperity of his whänau, hapü and iwi.

168 years later and the world has changed beyond what my tupuna could have imagined. But what hasn’t changed, at least in my whänau is that in the six generations since, from generation to generation through to my grandparents, parents and to my brothers and sister and I, is the understanding that our actions today leave a legacy for generations to come and must contribute to the ongoing prosperity of whänau, hapü and iwi.

Prosperity of all Maori is necessary if we are to fulfil the words of our great Tai Tokerau rangatira Sir James Henare, when he once said, “It is preposterous that any Maori should aspire to become a poor pakeha when their true destiny, prescribed by the Creator, is to become a great Maori.”

What makes Maori great? I believe any Maori who achieves their potential or beyond and bolsters the standing of their whänau and community achieves a measure of greatness. As a former principal it was immensely rewarding to witness the joy and satisfaction on the face of whänau when their children achieved. I was acutely aware though of how thin those ranks of achievement are in many of our schools.

NZ history shows that Maori can succeed in the face of adversity. But this success needs to become the norm rather than the exception. The greatness of a nation is linked to the distinction of its people. Mr Speaker I come to the House seeking to make a contribution that enriches our nation through expanding the ranks of those Maori families who seek educational achievement. The lessons of the chalkface have value and ought to be borne in mind as we debate how to innovate, fund and improve our system of education.

Being a great achiever begins for our children when they enjoy aroha, that is, unconditional love from parents and caregivers who realise that raising children is not a right to do as you like but an obligation to the next generation.

Educational engagement and achievement is vital to Maori greatness and prosperity. We will achieve more with one full generation of highly educated Maori, than we will from the last 168 years of grievance. We need Maori to be educated so that we become the people of influence and the decision makers.

I’ve spent twenty years at the chalk face in education. I enjoyed a 14 year career as a Principal and am especially proud of the achievements of the Board of Trustees, staff and students of Kaitaia Intermediate School, which in seven years saw a school turn from almost total academic failure to academic success.

We proved at Kaitaia Intermediate School that Maori do not need to wait decades or generations to see improvements to Maori achievement and wellbeing at school. It can happen almost immediately.

With the right approach by Principals, teachers, bureaucrats, politicians and others within the system Maori can – and will – make immense and rapid gains in achievement – which will lead on to Maori health gains and life expectancy, financial well being, leadership positions and influence and being able to collectively and fully contribute to our country.

We must ensure our education system engages Maori from their first day of school right through until their last day at the end of year thirteen, and onto a lifetime striving for knowledge, wisdom and understanding. For many Maori disengagement from the educational system is but the first step in disengagement from society in general.

Maori will never achieve greatness or beyond our potential unless we are educationally successful. Therefore it is imperative if Maori are to achieve great things, we need to get the education system right for Maori.

Conversely, we – Maori – have to realise one of our greatest weaknesses is to blame the system. We know that history has conspired against us; we know a heck of a lot happened to our people that set our progress and development back and has resulted in our struggle to prosper and achieve greatness.

But as critical as I am of those who deny the effects of the damage the system has done to Maori over the last 168 years, I am equally critical of Maori who only blame the system for their own failings.

Do we as a people have the courage to accept responsibility for our lives? It’s time for us to collectively step up and as we say – para te huarahi – blaze a trail.

I’ve sat in hui where the talk has all been about the injustices, the grievances, the excessive navel gazing that stagnates the mind and saps the energy and the soul.

It’s time we stopped wallowing in self pity and instead looked for solutions.

It’s time our hui were all forward thinking, positive and solution based.

Last Wednesday I attended a seminar where a group of Maori gathered to discuss Information and Communications Technology. These people were educated, professional and motivated. There was no self pity, there was no talk of grievance, there was no talk of injustice. There were problems and frustrations, but they searched for solutions. We need to replicate that sense of purpose and mission in our hui, our marae and our homes.

Blaming the system implies we are too weak as a people to help ourselves, that we are victims.

Bad stuff has happened, but we must cease to be victims.

Maori need to sort ourselves out. Education is the passport, but we need to put ourselves on the flight to the future. Obviously policy, process, ideology are a part of the journey and it will happen with a collaboration of the spirit.

A kaumätua said to me earlier this year that the problem with our Maori youth is actually us – the adults. His words to me were – We need to lay off our youth and sort ourselves out. If we want our Maori youth to act in a certain way, to achieve personal greatness then they need us Maori adults to be role models and demonstrate how that’s to be done.

If we’re serious about wanting to prosper and provide hope for our kids then us Maori adults need to step up.

We Maori men – need to step up.

It is said – Being a male is a matter of birth. Being a man is a matter of choice.

Likewise, being a Maori is a matter of birth, but being a Maori achiever is a matter of choice.

We Maori men must have the courage to lead our whänau and hapü towards prosperity and greatness.

We are renowned for our warrior spirit but it is time that warrior spirit manifested itself in new ways. We need to replace anger, grievance and self pity with dignity, determination, resilience and forgiveness.

I conclude Mr Speaker by stating that I have hope for the future, the future of my children and the future for us as Maori. I believe that by lifting Maori educational achievement, and by us as Maori having the courage to take control of our present, we will as a people achieve prosperity and the future greatness that is our destiny.

That road to greatness has been paved with trials and tribulations. But those trials and tribulations never stopped Sir James Henare, a boy from Motatau, deep in the heart of Ngati Hine stand as an example of how our destiny as Maori, prescribed by the Creator, is to achieve greatness.

I look forward to the contributions I can make to this 49th Parliament, as an educator, as a politician and as a Maori, for the benefit of the whole nation.

No reira tatou ma, huri noa i to tätou whare. Rau rangatira ma, e te whänau, tena koutou, tena koutou, tena tatou katoa.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Not really a phone

Thought it might be a good time to share how things have changed so much. I have chucked my front page of my phone here.
Messages - yeah texts nothing new there, however the fact that the messages answer each other in chat style, makes life so easy because you can track a conversation and go back to numbers or information in a snap.
Contacts - nothing new here, not so, these sync with every email, phone and chat address, and they sync with cloud too, so they cant be lost, nice.
Calendar - This is actually seven calendars and they can come from google, .mac, whatever, with all the alarms and reminders that you will ever need, essential.
Camera - still or video, yes nothing new here, however being able to mms, email, mobileMe, youTube, flickr are nice options. It also uses gps to tag the photos.
Compass - This is actually a gimmick, I will never need a compass, but I know where north is (true and magnetic!)
Expt4GDocs - Basically this is a google docs reader, every doc, all my folders, all my shared docs. This is priceless, it doesnt allow editing the docs but I don't care, I have access to everything I need at a snap.
Ping - is texting over wifi or 3g, therefore you can text other ipod or iphone people. It has potential within a school or when overseas and international texts or roaming costs too much. At the moment its only for iphone/ipod but an app like this will grow or skype will reinvent itself to push.
Notes - You can use cool things like evernote (see @mumbleboy no 1 fan) or you can keep notes simple by just writing, sync, email. All good and very useful.
App Store - This a gem, there are thousands of useless things your phone can do and the app store has them all, this is why you need @mumbleboy or macash they sort the rubbish out and install it on their phones and then tell you what are the good apps. Trainspotter heaven. It was only a couple of years ago that finding third party stuff for computers was a nightmare, good old steve has all the third party peeps dying to be part of itunes, nice work steve and you are getting $ from developers, up there for thinking down there for dancing.
Maps - Ok doesn't every man know the city he was brought up in? Not true, Auckland has suburbs called Botany and Danemora, and then if you visit any city in the world you get a map with your location marked, never print a page, its the bomb.
Weather NZ - Everyone is an expert on weather, the problem is not everyone is a golfer, I've gotta have accurate weather. Plus if I bump into an old person I can always say "they reckon its going to rain this weekend" this is usually a sign of knowledge, you know, someone who reads the paper or listens to the wireless.
Settings - You gotta tell your phone what you want it to do.
TVNZ - Not a bad app, actually it beats watching the news, it has the main NZ news with fast loading links to stories and or videos, the sports links are great too. New bits added to this app quite often, big ups to the tvnz generally followers, now leading.
Twitterrific - Ok everyone has their opinions on twitter and or which is the best app to use for twitter. Personally what works for you is all good. This has a very nice search box, the @'s and dm's are great. I am a sucker for nice looking icons and the bird chirps just keep me coming back.
NetNewsWire - My fav iphone app by miles. This is an RSS reader. The desktop app syncs with google reader and the iphone app does the same, the "mark all as read" box is a favourite of mine. To be able to read in your down time with quick and fast access is just brilliant, no book, paper, or computer. You aren't reading a small can't see screen either.
Facebook - Not sure that Facebook is everyones cup of tea, the app is brilliant, no bloody ads or joining this poxy group, take that stupid quiz crap, just keeping in touch and using it the way I want to use it.
Phone - I almost forgot its a phone - ha, someone should tell Vodafone it has other uses.
Mail - Yes you get em all to your phone, and because it pushes you never get double ups. You can VPN if you really want to know who is using the hall in period three. I have found it very useful to delete email on the fly. Really easy to reply, forward, send, receive.
Safari - Useful to be able to browse the internet on the phone, I have found that I use this less and less as the collaboration web 2.0 apps have been released for the phone. The pinch and spread screen thing is brilliant for iphone so you can get to pages that need zooming.
iPod - Can't do without your music? I can, but can't do without my podcasts that I subscribe too. Also the odd episode from the town of Royston Vasey, Green Wing and or the odd youTube video can kill time while on the plane, especially those golf lessons that I need to review every now and then.

So thats one page on the phone, i have another 50 apps, and some of them are just mindless rubbish.
What will kids be holding in fifteen years? Where are we going with these devices,?
It has certainly helped me learn new stuff, helped me find new communities, helped me find new ideas, meet new people, respect my colleagues, appreciate the sharing of peers, stay connected and I can turn it off any time I want!

Thursday, November 12, 2009

On Tour

Last week I had a great opportunity to visit 6 schools in Chch with 11 staff. We tried really hard to take the attitude that we didn't want to be like those hundreds of visitors that visit us. We didn't want to be shallow, looking at artwork, and laminated things and surface features. By gum its easier said than done. I think its just so enticing as a teacher to borrow a very simple idea that someone else has done in such a creative way and use it for your self. After wading through the surface features (let me tell you there were some great examples of cool simple ideas) we dug into the ideas bucket. Its amazing what you can achieve when a large group from one school get a license to brainstorm when motivated, inspired and away from the chalkface. Either I have an amazing staff (true) or we were in a very good space, the PD was perfect and all the ducks were in line. SO how did it work and how could you replicate this for your school.

Flew red eye to Chch, carry on luggage only, rental van, try to arrive 830 at first school, which should get you ahead in terms of getting to all 3 schools. debrief 3 to 4pm, free time, dinner.
Arrive at 830 on day 2 at first school. Debrief in airport lounge. Catch a late plane home 6pm or so, which eliminates stress on the road and at check-in.

Two days was enough, three would have been too many days away from home and classroom, and it would have sunk our banked staffing.
Six schools was a rush (but worth it), time your travel well, be planned, have the cell numbers of the future visitors so you can text ETA's.
Visit a range of deciles, include a private school too.
Do your homework on the principals, they hold the key to the schools performance.
Debrief all the ideas, surface features are as important and big ideas, make sure everyone gets a say.
Have a chat with the school well before you arrive so they know what you are keen on looking at.
Take the chance to invite the school principals you visited to join you for dinner, you get a chance to ask a few deeper questions.
Accommodation is too easy to scab on, make an effort.

We have some great ideas being flicked around and now i'm looking forward to the next 12 heading to Wellington, as well as a local tour in Aukalani.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

A quick assessment - No pun intended

Here are the things you must collate and report on. Forget all other documentation, if you are a principal or teacher this is what Mary Chamberlain is being paid for.

After 1 year Level 1
After 2 years Level 1
After 3 years - early Level 2
End of year 4 Level 2
End of year 5 - early Level 3
End of year 6 Level 3

After 1 year Green
After 2 years Turquoise
After 3 years Gold
End of year 4 - at Level 2
End of year 5 - work towards Level 3
End of Year 6 - at Level 3

After 1 year Level 1
After 2 years Level 1
After 3 years - early Level 2
End of year 4 - at Level 2
End of year 5 - working towards Level 3
End of year 6 Level 3

Some quick observations - Writing is the same as Maths almost word for word, Reading too after Y3. All the support documentation they sent about maths, reading and writing mean nothing cause the MOE only want the data from above. You have to report to them exactly on the standard above and give them a number and proportion.

Nag 2A (C)(1) Says report on:
the numbers and proportions of students at, above, below, well below - maori, pacific, gender

I have quickly assessed my whole Y3 year level and looking at the data this will be how my report looks. We have a significant number at or above with a smaller number below. We have a small proportion of students not achieving and a large proportion at and a smaller proportion higher than at.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

GPC 2009

So its the GPC time of the year. Clearly the best professional development any principal can have. We have a group of 12 principals who bring along their "one good idea" and expand it so we can see what it looks like, smells like, how it works with your BOT, what it did to teaching and learning and any other thing. In this winning concept it is all about the ideas that flow around the table, across the kitchen, over the bar, and while out in the vans on our way to a mystery destination. This year was no exception, Pricey really had us captivated with his presso on all things happening at SRP. Check out the SRP kidzone.
I know that as a principal it can be a very lonely job, as you struggle to confide with people outside of your school, yet our group has been able to seek new ideas, ask for a fresh set of ears, and get feedback on lots of things. Local clusters can be geographically good but like minds and sometimes a bit of distance can be an advantage.
I urge principals to keep networking, whenever visiting a school in another city invite the principal for dinner, talk to people at conferences from outside your cluster. Keep in touch with colleagues, visit principals blogs, leave comments, email, ichat. Good people are just around the corner.

Any one who knows wayne knows he couldn't hit a barn if he was inside it. well he has proven us all wrong, AJ - Little Luke this is not a trick movie.

Friday, October 23, 2009

What Do We Do It's Catch 22?

So the standards were launched from a school that is really worth holding up as a special place in Nationals "ideal school" list. Congrats to that school.
So while in sydney I had a few chats with Russ, Blueyonder, dorothy and MacAsh. we all differ in our angles and takes on this whole standard thing, but we all agree that rigour is a word missing in the discussions. there are so many arguments, but what is undeniable is that there are some crap schools who are butchering learning, crap leaders too.
So when good people (i know you are presuming thats you) tell you that "what happened to us as professionals, trust us" - that cant wash, so we must be accountable. It's a catch 22.
On the other hand testing, gathering, assessing, reporting, all that guff will also be butchered by those same lemons so what the hell are we doing.

So if you are in charge of all NZ and you want rigour then what is your solution. We do need a solution, there are some problems out there lets be honest.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

moderated or shut down which one?

As you know I started a thread on the MOE website about the national standards.
Today I left this post:

I have been contacted (by fellow principals) and asked to send the standards back to the MOE unopened. It appears that the NZEI and NZPF who I have spoken too are not sure if they are arthur or martha. Its a dilemma but something that needs to be discussed, i'm interested if there is a groundswell on "return to sender" or whether it is another poor idea in this whole ugly vote winning saga.

I thought I was asking for opinion and asking whether it was just me, should we do something or is that an over-reaction. I wanted to know what people thought.
It was posted for about 15 minutes and then I received an email that said it had been moderated and it did not fit with the forum guidelines for educational leaders. Im pissed but not surprised.
If we speak up we get shot down, we cant have an opinion opposite to the govt. Ever heard of that in other countries? I could name a few.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

return to sender

Stop running around worried about the new curriculum, league tables, and jobs and employment. National testing will effect kids the most.
Schools are going to butcher the national standards, they will teach to tests, parade their good results, tell parents how good they are. Classrooms will suffer, kids will suffer.

When Ka Hikitia was delivered to schools many schools sent the packages back unopened. They moaned and it was a monumental cock up. Yes they sent back an awesome document because it had some maori potential badges in it. It was a protest about nothing. BUT it was a protest.

There is a simple solution for national standards, send them back, unopened, return to sender. Anne Tolley will be massively pissed. There will be an uproar from media outlets. John Key might have to say something smarmy. John campbell will have a sickofantic approach to this one. sainsbury might be a little surprised. The thing is that the Nat Govt are winning this sales pitch and we have no spokesman, or in NZEI's case no spokesperson or significant politically correct minority spokesperson.

Just to ruin my argument the media will look for a spokesperson, and those plonkers at the union and federation will get up there and encourage colleagues to mumble mumble.

Still it was a good idea, thanks Invercargill, let me know if all your schools are going to send them back, I will look at getting a big envelope ready.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Rebels Mavericks and Tank Herring

So my mate Tank didnt beat his battle with cancer. Tank was a really good coach, a very sharp selector, he had great knowledge of scrummage, his attention to detail was excellent. He also built loyalty, encouraged players, and learnt from his mistakes. His gruff nature and piss taking was exactly what players loved, his generosity endless, and relentless pursuit of winning (shit he hated losing) was admired.
So Tank was never going to be selected as the Auckland Coach, or any other high profile coaches job. Tank was too rough round the edges, too frank, too grumpy, too innovative!
This resonates for me in leadership in education.
We have these mavericks in our schools, probably a lot like Tank, but they aren't celebrated.
When we look for people to motivate and lead our leaders we look elsewhere, in the universities, overseas.
We look for someone else, anyone else, we bring in australians, americans, poms, we get advice from those who speak eloquently, who wear nice suits, who have a slick presso and a nice sales pitch.
We actually need to hear from kiwis, people in the job, those who are making it happen, Bruce Hammonds wrote a good blog about Perry Rush, and Mike left a very true comment.
Rebels, mavericks, the GPC, they are out there, I'm gonna run a conference for all the nutters out there in 2010, and we will put all those principals in one room- imagine that.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Its Simple

Is it just me or are schools/NZers too serious. We have the responsibilities for the future of children, we have to mark all this stuff and collect everything, and collate everything, dont forget all that inquiry learning and copious amounts of meetings. Ok, all of that stuff occurs in nearly every school but I just cant stop thinking that people are over analysing everything, looking for work and angles to make life difficult. All of the best teachers are motivators and relationship builders, all of the best leaders are the same. Its that simple.
If you want to take things seriously as a teacher/leader then work on relationships with your peers, parents and kids, when you have those ducks in line the learning has a place to grow. It is the water and fertiliser. If you dont have relationships and motivation you just have a plant and your fingers crossed.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Newspapers from truth to crap in ten years!

For years when I was smaller, littler, and a much younger Podgorani I carried the news of the world to the doorstep and hospital bed of many. As a herald boy I had the delivery of truthful information in my reliable hands for many years. The herald was gold, the truth, the bible, what was written was indisputable. Back in those clean white days the only paper that dared to flirt with scandal was ironically "the truth" it was the tabloid of the day, with its page three girl and its scandalous headlines.
Oh how times have changed, check out this crap from the herald this morning. Residential school Westbridge had 24% of its students not achieve average progress in reading (did 76% therefore achieve average progress). The school is focussing too much on behavior and not enough on achievement and it needs to close. This is just absolute crap. Pick the worst behaved 25 boys from Taupo to Cape Reinga, place them in one secure (prison) environment and then judge the school on achievement! How about judging them on who can sit at the dinner table and have a conversation without a fight starting, or verbal abuse being thrown about. Give these teachers medals, give the principal a medal and shut up NZ Herald you are a pack of tossers. They lazily read an article leaked to them by some politician looking for political gain, and sensationalized it for a headline doing irreparable damage to an honourable Principal and dedicated staff. They could have found out the real truth, taken a day to look at life in a school behind bars and seen first hand how much, skill, passion and aroha is delivered by dedicated teachers who teach in the most thankless job in NZ, now there's a story.

A colleague wrote in a blogpost that the national standards are a joke and that why don't we just start fudging test results and send in fake scores. There were other sarcastic remarks and it was written totally tongue in cheek. The wonderful paper the Dominion Post found out about the post and then made a song and dance about about faking scores. Maybe they should have made the effort to contact the writer of the post and ask for a serious comment - no that requires work.

Look at Kelston Boys vs Auckland Grammar. It was a media circus, and apparently still is.

People when you get a call from the media, never ever ever trust them. They are lazy and unethical, they just want the easy story. They are the new scum of society, they are right up there in trust, with the petrol companies, and banks.
Graham Henry I thought you were going a bit nuts, but now I see with clarity the media are scum sucking mud rakers, and you actually haven't changed, apologies Ted. p.s don't consider steven donald he's crap.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

A Cognitive Psychological Tool.

I needed a really intelligent title to this blog, and you got it.
teacher: As a teacher you keep asking a question of your principal, its a difficult question to answer but its bloody important. The principal agrees with you saying "I know, I know, its a difficult one" and then they do nothing. You ask again, and have a good chat about it again, at a time when the Principal seems ready to be approached. Again nothing happens, its too hard so it gets ignored, so you stop asking, BUT you don't stop caring.

principal: Here is what you thought the first time they asked that question: This is a massive can of worms, one that I'm not sure is the highest priority, but it is important. You also know that answering this question will require very uncomfortable conversations with long serving staff, and it will require courageous conversations, consultation with lots of people and a long sustained process. You kind of think, I might park this puppy until it really has to be faced.

teacher: your cant give up caring, and you don't want to stop asking.

how do we solve this problem ? try Johari Window ?

@mumbleboy introduced a very nice tool to analyse leadership in our school and for others to feel that they can be open and honest without slamming a hammer on our already fragile personalities. This was really helpful and one that can help with the scenario above as it enables people to tell you whats in your blind area. The Johari Window was devised in 1955 and really is worth a read and for those of you who are brave enough, to experiment with. We all have blind areas that we just dont see, and everyone else can see it. How many passes does the team in white make. Have a read - follow the links, google it yourself, it could be quite powerful.
Even just thinking about your blind spot for yourself as a teacher, leader, dad, mum, or whatever, it's worth considering.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Attention 2 Detail

After a week of the usual (mostly verbal diahorrea) you look back and think about what really matters. On thursday arvo we had a visitor who was asking about 4min walkthroughs and she asked how do I know they have made a difference. @mumbleboy started with some sort of intelligent answer when i had a penny dropper. So for the very first time in my life I interrupted mumble and splurted out an answer, my show stopper, my thought for the week. The funny thing was that this one liner was ringing loud in my head and it came from the mayor of wheneuapai Tank Herring. One thing about Tank is that he calls a spade a shovel. Tank is a bloody great rugby coach and last year I had the pleasure of working with the old shagger for the whole season, his line was: "attention to detail". It doesn't sound like a show stopper but in rugby coaching with rep teams, or top line players the little things are everything. Attention to detail with highly skilled players makes a massive difference.
You see when the i thought about my teachers who have had the most walkthroughs, they all say that they have improved their own practice, and they have looked at themselves and made small changes.
Small changes for top line rugby players are made through attention to detail.

Top line teachers and leaders are always looking at and paying attention to detail. If you believe in attention to detail, then you will make a difference for yourself, your staff, your class, your parents, your school, your community.
tTake care of the little things and the big problems wont surface. Small changes and small steps lead to improvement, its all in the detail.

Im guilty of brushing over stuff, switching off a bit, and I need a bit of reminding, maybe its a bloke thing, a podgorani thing, or a bullshit filter thing, but whatever the reason, i must do better.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

where 2 from here

Ok I have a dilemma a bit like Graham Henry. I want to make changes but i'm not sure what changes, i dont even have the goal posts to aim at because i haven't discovered them yet. It's kind of exciting but on the other hand a little difficult to plan for when you are not sure where you are headed. ERO have packed up their bat and ball and handed the school a clean sheet and said we trust you and your direction, go for it. We don't wait for ERO to give those cards out but sometimes you can think things are great and actually there can be a smug mediocrity and until ERO actually give you the thumbs up, you naturally want to hold off on a random path on the unknown. I'm feeling we are at a point in the cycle where we are ready to ride straight off the cliff. I don't want to do more of the same and don't want to just sharpen the pencil. The post about learning communities has been really awesome for thinking through new ideas. It has allowed me to think of some of the possibilities for our school. I know when this can of worms is opened to staff there will be a set of goal posts on the horizon. I reckon having eyes, ears and opinions from the classrooms will help leadership see things from every perspective, something i think we all have to be careful of as leaders. I am determined to ensure that on this journey of discovery that the staff are going to play a big part in the ideas and ownership.
I see Team Solutions has a visioning facilitator, what a wank fest, or is it? maybe we should give her a bell just to prove that we can do it in spite of some b.s systematic method. Most of the time the GGF (global gut feeling) has seen the right decisions made, but maybe this time a heavily planned visioning process is worth a try and or a laugh.
Should i head off to the library for vision books & dial 0800 vision ? or go with @mumbleboy the ninja and the whole team of mad hatters, @pinksickle included ?

By the way Ted needs some advice. Here is my backline for the next few games mills15 sivi11 ma'a14 conrad13 luke12 dan10 quentin9. Feel free to put your backline down, p.s kahui for conrad as soon as he is available.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Telethon Lemon

While on Pons Rd on Sunday looking for a decent flat white I saw 4 tweenage girls singing three little birds outside a shop. They were raising money for telethon. They were full of life, laughing at the odd wrong word being sung, clicking fingers, singing their hearts out. Miss Podgorani was immediately attracted to the tweenage antics and immediately dug into a pink zipped purse to give her hard earned to the Supremes. The Supremes even had the official lanyards, to say they were fundraising for telethon. I'm picking they had been practicing all week, had talked it through at school and were really looking forward to ticking all the boxes of helping NZers in need. This is heart warming stuff.
I have a friend who is a Principal who has received the All Blacks raincoats, when I saw them in his office I couldn't help but think how much these are a bloody waste of money. It pisses me off that these bullshit charities actually get people like the All Blacks on board. The All Blacks could really make a difference for some of the very very needy charities, but they are sucked into their corporate crap.
They have milked 2 million dollars for RAINCOATS probably stitched together by chinas child labour force.
How would these Ponsonby Intermediate girls be feeling when they grow up to discover this sham. Perhaps as teachers we have a part to play. But why should we be those Kiwi knockers. Why should we rubbish the charity NZers have shown.
Michael Laws has started the attack and TVNZ will be all over this like a rash and we will have a week of telethon bashing, a bit like the Dean Lonergans fight for life stuff.

You have to read Michael Laws article, see link above.

Maybe the Supremes from Ponsonby Intermediate could take their songs to the street and hand the cash over at the food bank. Its not so glamourous, and the CEO of Kids Can might not get their big six figure salary, but at least the money would go directly to those who need it.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Building a Learning Community

Its now time for you observers of the Podgorani to stop passing by without contributing, I'm calling you all to attention. I need a discussion or contribution on this post.
We have an opportunity at school to go beyond the assessment and routine of school and really do something special. I want to talk about building a learning community, what ideas do you have that gets them in the door, that builds communication, that builds families together with the school, that opens the door all the way from high maintenance mums to the working dad, the Maori and polynesian community, the masses of ethnicities, send in your ideas. I have listed a few below that seem insignificant but done properly they can be powerful.

Road Crossing Duty - great dialogue to be had here.
Values Postcards - sending something in the mail is awesome and so simple.
Twitter - get some followers and keep it current.
Interactive School Website - parents and your community must feel welcome and make it easy.
Parent Information Days/evenings - literacy numeracy and just plain old fun.
Big school events: cross country/athletics/art shows etc - make them the best they have ever been, food, and fun.
Morning Coffee Days - one principal has a local coffee shop and publishes the times she will be there (once a week) which gives parents the opportunity to join them informally.
Home Visits - you have to knock on doors to get to know people, invite them to events personally.
Assemblies - these are not freemasons meetings, invite your community.
Magic Key - I heard of a principal who sent keys out to the community and had a prize for the person with the key that opened some box, he had heaps attend.
Race Night/Quiz Night - which double as fundraising and social activities.
Term Booklets - send home a booklet of achievement each term.
Meet the Teacher - before the year started.
Principals Forum - Informal discussions (2 per term) with any parents not specifically about your own kid, but ideas, discussion and questions about education.
Homework - Neil has the whole family medal thing working with his hwk challenges.

I know that writing an idea in one sentence can seem naff and can sound shallow and in a lot of ways a blog doesn't even start to scratch the way we open our door to learning and engagement but so what. Keep it short and flick them in the pot and we will assume any idea you have is actually done really well. This is your opportunity to sound good without having to back it up.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Test for Creativity

Had a great conversation with the mac center of Warkworth about testing. He really got me thinking about a National test for every kid. What you say ! Podgorani wants a national test - YES I DO. @macninz suggests we should national test every kid in the arts, dance, drama, music, and sports. Reality says a test wont work but it begs the question how schools would go if there was.
I would love to see the decile ranking spun on its arse, the 10s would find out very quickly what its like to be at the bottom. The declie 1's would be on fire with their depth of talent. On a more humorous note the south island (cant dance, white gene, wakefield company, andrew merhtons lookalikes) would be struggling. This would be brilliant.
Sure take this posting with a grain of salt, but consider Ken Robinson, are you part of killing creativity in your school? So have a reality check - look at the arts and ask yourself if you are putting the equal amount of effort into them as you are reading writing and maths.

For all you southeners who are feeling sad Merts says it all.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

You want cheese with that ?

So the holiday has well and truly disappeared and Im back to face ERO on the first monday back. Seems a quick way to come down to earth from the high life in the US. The truth really is that although the weather is crap and the All Blacks are persisting with Steven Donald, we really are a lucky country.
According to an OECD study it says we are only the third most obese country behind mexico and america. Given my recently trip to california I would say we are way way behind in third place. given the huge diversity of people in NZ it doesnt surprise me that we are higher in ranking than other OECD countries who have the mono ethnic mix.
Still america is heading for fat explosions, they have cheese with everything, and its that yellow crap. At a baseball game mini-podgorani wanted chips, for an extra 99c you can get cheese melted on your fries - why would ya? seems everyone esle round us was saying :" why wouldnt ya !"
Back to ERO, kind of not sure what to think these days, the days of sweating and worrying arent really there for me any more, I am kind of looking forward to getting them in, hoping they see all those little things that really matter. You cant really show HOW you do things, or HOW you have done things, in such a short timeframe. Yet we all know that how is way more important than what. I know the ERO office have matured since the days of rubbish bins not being clean, and sick bay registers recording every plaster issued.
I think there are two sets of eyes that ERO needs, fresh ones and ones that see where a school has been, its our job to show them where we have been and usually it didnt happen overnight.
Gladwell made a very interesting speech to NECC about success and creativity. basically everyone who has ever achieved has put in thousands of hours of hard work. bands like the beatles played for 2 years every night is a nude bar in germany before cracking anything (excuse the pun). fleetwood mac released 14 albums before making a hit. Think about those at the very top - Tiger Woods, hard work and dedication. Lance armstrong, might have clocked up a few miles in those legs, Steven Price those looks dont make the tackles.
Schools dont get to where they are without the depth of hard work, failure, success and more hard work. What you see is the result of hard work by everyone.
Then of course when all else fails look for luck, I know most times I have fallen in a dunnie there is usually a gold watch so long may it continue.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

NECC ISTE conference 09

Now six days into my US tour.
No news here about education. It is ridiculously clear that we are light years ahead of the american system. wedontknowhowluckyweare. I wont even try to explain the US elementary school system, why go there. What we need to do is treasure what we have cause its world class stuff. Yip, we currently have Nat Standards on the table and some see the erosion of what we have as catastrophic. What I’d now call it is a pimple that will soon pass, if you address it properly.
Where we are light years behind is broadband, we are on a par with the crappiest third world countries. Telecom and Vodaphone are just rubbish, ADSL3 which is coming soon to a school near you, (in the next 9 months for us) is old defunct backward technology here in the states. Go figure- we are keenly waiting for a product that is already phased out of every school over here. Yes it will be quick by our standards but pathetic by world standards. Many people don’t really know the benefits of fast broadband but there are tonnes.
We are also about 5 years behind in cell phone usage, sure I was at a technology conference but it’s an iphone (watch this) or blackberry or get out of the way. Nokia has a market in NZ, people think they are cool, but NZers in general are cell phone users, Americans are mobile web users. Every dude I see with a phone was using the web, forget the games. Telecoms 3g network might be ok for maybe a year, but will need upgrading, but because the habits of NZ cell phone users is low tech then they will get away with it for 5 years. Vodaphone... miles behind with data.
Twitter has been a great tool, at times I feel a little stink tweeting with a hash # tag to a conference thread when you have a bunch of followers who maybe aren’t following the conference you are at. This is part of the limitations I suppose of twitter or perhaps I am a poor user who doesn’t know a way round that. It has been interesting to see that the general tweeter at the conference took a commentary type attitude and tweeted what people were saying rather than giving opinion. When I tweeted opinion I was replied too “it’s not about opinion”. Interesting cause as I know at uLearn last year the keynote got rubbished by opinion on twitter. Maybe there is etiquette, or the yanks are too polite, or wont criticise publically (fear of being sued) or NZers are naive, not getting the whole public forum thing. Its a whole new discussion, but interesting.
Gadgets: got a livescribe, it won’t do OCR recognition yet, but the beta for mac is ready to be released in the next two weeks. I will post a link to some notes later this week.
Got a kodak Zi6, the picture quality is staggering, awesome, and it has an SD, takes stills, and can record in HD30fps, HD60fps, XGA for quick youtube. At the price point it has flip licked and it uses AA batteries (my preferred option).
Document cameras are quite big in the trade stands, and i see plenty of use as a classroom tool, the peddlers are loving this! However, buy a digital camera, run it from the ac charging plug, leave it on auto focus, use RCA to usb and tape it to some sort of lamp shade and you have one for $200, worth a crack! here are some from the net - seems easy.
Touch boards! ha! man is this big business, the dudes at the stands give away so much stuff and the sweet smelling, tidy looking chickies, and those tight shirted blokes with the stubble are just the shit. They have it down pat with their slick presentations and giveaways, you can see the huge margins these dudes are on. lets face it they are a fat waste of money, they are not smart or interactive, "the kids love them and they are engaged", but the work you are doing is not powerful, just powerful looking. I’m still amazed at what the boards look like with all the movement, but its movement is not pedagogy. Engagement is not learning, my kids engage with the simpsons and futurama every night!
Hyperstudio has been out now in NZ for 6 months and I am restricted by the price. But it is by far the best piece of software out there for mac schools, if you read this and brush over the comment and do nothing about it, then shame on you. Its more powerful than imovie, kid pix, and possibly keynote- big call I know but there you go! Roger Wagner is a very talented man. I did have a crack at the head of pricing and sales and he promises me a school site lisense, we wait- but don't wait for long.
Malcolm Gladwell was an excellent keynote speaker, so was Erin Gruwell who has a movie made about her. The ideas are running wild at present.
Holiday time now, back to normal now the conference issues are done.
gadget time.
have a good break one and all.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

everything is bigger

The highlight thus far on the ISTE conference was meeting a taxi driver from Cameroon. He has a twin brother and many many family members still living in Cameroon. His brother wants him to send some new Puma soccer boots so he can be the envy of the local soccer field in Cameroon. Why are taxi drivers such philosophers, wow did this dude have a sharp eye on life. He says all of his family wants to come to America and he has been here 20 years and has the ability to sponsor any of his family to start a new life here. he wont bring anyone to USA, he says they have a better life there, simple, but better. He says that in cameroon his brother has no debt or money issues, plays soccer everyday, never eats processed food and looks 53 years old. He said he looks like his father and is terribly sad. He says he thought after 20 years in America he would be Bill Gates, alas he is a soccer mad taxi driver in DC. This guy was amazingly well educated, spoke beautiful english & french, and had an amazing grip on world affairs.
Sometimes bigger is not always better.
More soon.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Who reflects your schools culture

Kind of a discovery and kind of a bit of realism that slapped me in the face this week.
In writing a school statement for ERO I floated into a sentence about the "culture" of the school.
This got me thinking, who carries the culture of your school? Sure we have a joint philosophy and a belief in one another and what we want for our kids. Lots of schools have these thoughts and ideas but the proof is in the pudding.
To me it really did dawn on me that at our school the kids carry the culture of the school, teachers facilitate but kids articulate. Every kid that walks in the door at your school takes a lead from the other students, their actions, their words, their aroha. Think about the kids in your school, who do your new students actually take their lead from?
We have tonnes of amazing kids who carry the culture, they set the standards in work habits, in friendships, in respect, integrity, relationships-teamwork and more. The thing is, the way to judge the culture is to recall the stories where kids carry that culture. I have heaps of amazing little anecdotes from the actions of children that reflect our culture. Somewhere adults have had to do the hard work, and this happens over time and every day, but the rewards are so satisfying.
So teachers take note those great kids in your class are GOLD they not only keep you sane but they are shaping the success of your whole school.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Life Long Learners

Do you believe there is one set of knowledge that every kid should learn? If this is the case what is that knowledge.?And what should schools do to ensure every kid gets that knowledge.?

Now if you were at primary school you may have a reading writing and maths answer.
If you were at secondary you may have an "application of knowledge" answer.
If you believe in Cambridge Examinations you may answer - a really good strategy for memory.

Maybe the KC's are the answer = managing self - thinking - relating to others - participating and contributing. If this is so then how can we teach these.
Its a complex issue, specific teaching of KC's is possible as a very small part, gaining understanding through doing, showing, living the KC's is an enormous part. It really comes back to loving learning. Teachers are funny animals, we are so different in many ways but scarily similar in the things that matter. We can argue over assemblies, prize giving, bike days, sand pits, dutys, timetables (my list is quite long, hmmm a bit too much information here) but we always seem to agree that teaching kids is more than just imparting knowledge.
Good schools have flocks of these teachers who give everything they have for their kids. I have heard many conversations where someone is having a dig at a kid who has been an egg, only for another teacher to pop up and defend the little sod.
Having a deeper understanding of our colleagues, a shared respect for the way everyone in your school cares for kids, knowing that everyone has a bit of the "fight for kids" inside them is so important as a teacher and as a principal. We may have our spats but nothing changes the respect we have for colleagues who live a shared philosophy, not hung on the walls, but a deeper respect for the actual daily implementation.
This is where these rambled thoughts are going.

If we are going to make it as a life long learner, if we are going to encourage all our kids to be life long learners then there isn't one skill set.
Every kid needs someone who will "fight for them". Leaders need to practice their own philosophy of life long learning. I know we aren't all perfect and we get things wrong on more than one occasion but shutting the door is not an option.

Friday, June 5, 2009

Teachers can be the worlds best coaches

gold tooth and a mate

Sport is ridiculously important. As a teacher or coach you have a profound effect on kids by working with them on a completely different level. I must have coached 200 teams over the years. Coming to this realisation seems to be stating the absolute obvious but I have a chap at school who has one avenue for success, sport. Through sport he and I have built up a relationship. Tomorrow I am off to see him play for the first time and I'm really looking forward to seeing my little mate give it heaps. There wont be much conversation, likely a well done mate, and a pot of chips for him and his little brother.
I remember back to 1990 when young Lilo walked into my team and that gold tooth grin has been part of our friendship ever since.
Over the years we teach kids and have good memories but the bond between someone who cares, someone who has been in "that" team, someone who you have laughed with, built respect for, had success with, is special. Ask our office lady, The Beav, she was there the other morning and in walked a huge samoan courier, it was Mo'o a lock from years gone by, and there we were facing off after 17 years. The smile comes, so does the hug, the respect for each other, and then he's off like all good couriers. Nothing needs to be said.
Tomorrow nothing much will be said but being there will be everything.

Update : It was a gr8 morning, my mate will be stoked on Monday Morning - I bet he is at school too, which means mission achieved.
I took a few shots, and bumped in to 5 other Summerland Kids, my mate scored a beaut try too, maybe another Lilo in the making?

Thursday, June 4, 2009

NZ ain't that bad

So hows your week, how about this for a story from a reliever.
Been at ten schools all in a similar area.

Monday:• One hour release time (out of three per week)• First two hours - student free choice
Tuesday:• One hour release time (planning)• Afternoon -school at swimming - those not going supervised at 6 naff rotation activities for two hours SOOOOOOO frustrated!
Wednesday:• One hour release time for planning (yes again)• Supervise two classes in the afternoon playing board games while their teachers have release
Thursday:• Spent the afternoon supervising two classes while they watched a movie while the teachers did a survey
Friday:Free choice whole afternoons...
Teachers arrive at 8:30. Leave at 4pm. (School concludes at 3:30).
oh and planning consists of one A4 page for ALL subject areas for the WHOLE WEEK

Have you met any good motivated teachers?
I have met some motivated teachers yes. They are silently struggling.

Kids hate it. Behavior shocking. Some kids are just idiots seriously, all behavior strategies used up in 5 mnutes but others are keen to learn.

Whole class maths.
Whole class reading - No - groups...
BUT...I was asked to do combined reading with two classes (60 kids 1 book!). The teacher asked me. "So, what should we do for reading today". I DON'T know, I am the CRT! They had been working on predicting and only predicting (for weeks) at 9/10 year olds. They already knew it!
The next day... what shall we do?
I said, what does their testing say... Response: Oh ... we don't really test the kids.

The private schools SEEM on to it, (looking through the windows on a weekend) but not seeing teaching.
I have been to (10) schools like the Central Akld area and others more like West Akld perhaps.

Ok I concede maybe we do need National Standards.. Oops the problem is this reliever is working in Australia, is a great teacher, and they have some set of standards over there that obviously aren't working. The truth is we all have schools like these, and they need addressing or teachers will suffer silently, and the kids in deafening silence. Lets address it some how.

Monday, June 1, 2009

No sweat Pio you are the bomb

One of the best evenings a school could ever host. We got in touch with no sweat parenting after a parent told me they went to an event where Pio Terei had spoken. She said he was awesome. I have met Pio through my sons kapa haka group and found him to be a top bloke.
Pio has teamed up with Ian Grant to reach Maori parents. I get a feeling Ian Grant stumbled over an absolute gem. Pio had the power point that kept him on course, he had the messages that were simple, and the real life experiences that ring true for all parents. The thing is that there were some very simple ideas that touched a nerve for me.

Emotional tanks, we all have them and they can be emptied by words, actions, feelings, surroundings. He made a great point. We have lots of kids in this country who have empty emotional tanks and they have been empty since they were five years old.
Teachers can make a difference. A smile, a kind word, a touch (hug) whatever, these help fill that emotional tanks. Every class has one kid at least with an empty tank, we all know who they are, when you see them tomorrow, give them a smile a kind word and a nice touch.

We had a very multiculutral audience and everyone got the message whilst holding their sides with laughter. I encourage, no challenge every school to get Pio in the door. This is most definitely not about little kids either, teenagers are funny creatures too, the message is brilliant.

When the boss is away

I get a feeling that the MOE doesn't trust us. They seem to be determined to get through their election promise. Shame really that the purpose of the National Standards is political vote winning. It's actually a disgrace that the reason for the National Standards isn't about kids. Anne Tolley can argue till she's blue in the face about how essential these things are, so can all those facilitators who are lining up school contracts to help schools implement these standards. The truth is that these might be an important set of guidelines but they have always existed, exemplars, PATs, nathan astle and numpa testing. Why don't they just bloody address those schools who aren't there and let us get on with out job.

I don't want to bleat on about these standards, I've got better things to do. Try this video about trust. I'm sure the MOE think this is what schools are doing while they aren't looking.

Thursday, May 28, 2009


I've had a difficult week trying to comprehend priorities.
First 2000 lycra wearing greenies walked and biked across the harbour bridge, they want a cycle lane and an footpath.
Secondly there was a brilliantly organised hikoi that had a few thousand walk up queen street wanting maori representation on the the new super city council.
Thirdly a trial continues at enormous cost for a man who has 6 months left on his sentence.
Lastly the MOE are rushing through national standards for schools to be introduced in 2010 just to keep an election promise, this is not being done to raise educational achievement.

ok here we go with the tirade:
1.greenies stop growing your own sandals and do some bloody maths, 1.2 billion for another "clip on" for your footpath and six foot fence to stop jumpers. It's a no brainer go away, stop wasting our time, wait for the bloody tunnel or second bridge and then ask again.
2. good hikoi cuz but why was there 500 waitakere city council employees at the march? they didn't want maori representation, they are just another bunch of incompetant beaurocrats wanting to keep their nice new offices and jobs. once bitten WCC, you're out.
3. david bain guilty or not the evidence is just at complete opposites from both sides, so lots of people are lying or lawyers are orchestrating evidence to get a result the think is right / slanting evidence. lawyers will never ever do this so what the bloody hell is this all about. MONEY our money.
4. the one that has most educators scratching their heads. are they needed? maybe they are! but how will national not loose face with their simplistic election promise and education survive without "test teaching". this farce will be rushed through with so called "consultation" and it will railroad over the NZC which schools are working hard at implementation for 2010 and it has slammed ka hikitia to the pile of books under the DP's desk.
If the standards must come then take your bloody time you stupid noddys and get it right first time and implement it with PD and people on board not on the defensive. wake up you dumb arses!

My priority is to have a bloody good weekend with the intention of getting a fish or two. thats what I call a priorty.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Why are we really at school

A week of injuries to go with the pouring rain, and I start to wonder where our job starts and finishes. We had stitches in the mouth, a near severed toe, a broken arm (a bad one) and more hairy stuff almost daily. Seems the weather has sent a few crazy. I had a couple of after hours visits to homes catching up with the parents of the injured, and a couple of teachers snuck in to hospital to visit another young lad who is coming right.
The thing is that my week is nothing compared to my mate who has a motorway being planned to be built through his school, he had the media ringing at 7.30am and the phone has rung constantly for 4 days.
A student at my sons school passed away overnight. He was at school one day and gone the next. He had MD and was slowly wasting away, they always knew it was coming one day, but is still a big shock especially to his friends and teachers.
The thing is, that your actions when faced with difficult circumstances really do matter. These are possibly the most important decisions you face.

School isn't always about reading and writing, it's not always about results, it's about laughter, friendship, life, celebrating success.
Our job is about people, little people, big people, mums and dads, nans and pops. It is about community and we are all part of that community.

He aha te mea nui?
He tangata.
He tangata.
He tangata.

What is the most important thing? It is people, it is people, it is people.

Apologies to those of you who want swearing, mockery, and a lots of uninformed comment I promise next time to be way less serious and will have a tirade of ludicrous statements. OK Fiona G ?

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Appraisal - rigour or rubbish

Lets not beat around the bush, if your teacher is achieving in the classroom then they will always "pass" an observation and you will always attest to their meeting the professional standards. This presumes of course that they are collaborative team players bla bla bla. The problem I have is that the MOE says you should have goals, observations etc. I know one highly respected colleague who gave me a blow by blow discussion on how he observes practice and rigorously appraises teachers and it makes a huge difference to kids learning (he does have the evidence to prove it too). But what if they are sometimes late for school, and your DP has observed something in passing that set off a small alarm, their team personal demeanor isn't always spot on, and a couple of parents have expressed something that doesn't sit well with you as principal.
The thing is that an observation or even ten of them doesn't tell the whole picture. The term ‘playing the game’ is too easily applied to too many levels of the process. Pre booked observations are easy to plan for and often show unrealistically high effort. Planning can be checked, but this may or may not reflect the teacher’s practice during real student contact time. Still, these methods are widely accepted by governmental and Board stakeholders who are familiar with such business-world models to justify investment in institutions and programs.

Teachers and managers know strategies to succeed in these systems, but those strategies are seldom collegial, transparent, self-reflective or even honest. If the system of appraisal involves forced and false situations for observation, lengthy yet shallow accountability procedures and the underlying dichotomy of expecting teachers to engage in a process that has historically offered little benefit, then it’s unreasonable to expect that a culture of useful, honest dialogue may ever become embedded in a school as a result. Engaging in the ‘play the game’ subtext at a school wide level offers considerable threat to essential learning dialogue with peers or the chance for teachers to request help from management or leaders.

So every day of the week, month, and year teachers are being judged. Its a bitch I know, but here is what you are really being judged on:
the professional standards and your professionalism
colleagues and there observations and discussions
your children and how well you cope
lateness, punctuality, the time you put in or perceived time
senior managers, DP's, team leaders
environment the look and feel
your dialogue with everyone from the office staff to parents to kids and colleagues
professional learning your participation, enthusiasm, attitude
personal demeanor, happiness, feedback to others
part of learning community, fit and feel with staff
wider community, parental support

So all this stuff is really used to judge you as a teacher, I need a beer just looking at the list. So lets fake it and go to an observation, an irrelevant goal and tick the box. Or lets look at the horrible list and tackle it with respect and professionalism. Leaders need to be trusted. If they are lemons you are in trouble, but if you trust them and the little things are taken care of, then the open honest learning community will thrive.

Teachers if its all too much, just read the list above and apply that list to your principal, because everyday that guy has been in teaching he has also been judged by the same list. Would you attest to your principal?

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Principals - we are a weird lot

I recently filled in the APPA principals survey, they have a few issues with workload, paperwork, compliance and more. I'm happy to help with a few answers. As usual, with all surveys, I look at the questions and try to work out why each question has been asked, and then think how I can skew the answers by taking the opposite point of view from everyone else. I then try to convince myself that the view I have taken (because no one else has taken it) is actually justified and correct.
Take this question : "I look forward to MOE surveys" why ask this question and really expect any principal to answer "Strongly Agree" 0.6% (1) did strongly agree (that was me). You see this is what I call a slanted question, just bloody ridiculous, how can APPA expect to have any credibility when they use this question to say to the MOE that Principals are not happy with their performance.
There are some more doozies : "
"This school has no problems with funding from the ministry on property matters"
"I find no problem in recruiting quality teachers"
"I have the teaching staff to do justice to Te Reo"
These just state the obvious and don't need 200 principals to say help.

But there were a few that I though gee guys, your answers are at polar opposites, genuinely, from where I sit. like these:
"Payroll paperwork is overly inconsistent and complex" 2 people strongly disagreed (me and some other smart arse 1.2%). Just delegate it to a competent office manager and get on with the job of education, it might be complex but it shouldn't be of any concern for the principal, get someone else to do it.
"I have no problems with passwords on official websites like Leadspace" 5 people (3%) answered Strongly Agree. 67% had problems they Disagreed or Strongly Disagreed. This got me thinking, is this actually an issue or are 67% of principals incapable of using and reusing a password. Slanted question but a backfire if you ask me. This actually shows that there are a truck load of plonkers out there. I can say this because those password forgetters couldn't follow a blog, and a mention of RSS would probably have them thinking about some sort of typing disease.
"I would like a principals handbook developed either in hard copy or online" I bloody wouldn't, it would just gather dust, what a waste of time (90.4% want a handbook).
"An online handbook of NZ educational terms and acronyms would be useful" (67.5%) think it would be great. Well whoopdee shit, would this mean the RTLB's would now actually work with behavior kids. Who cares there are bigger fish to fry.

There were a few more rippers but I need to stop here, as I'm a crap typist, and for fear of being alienated by men in walk-shorts and power dressing, over perfumed women.
OK as I am actually a principal I now need to apologize to all my mates and now enemies that I have offended. Hopefully this is taken in the manner intended, lighthearted and with hopefully some message you may take from it.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

what is perfect for gen Y

Susan Boyle has amazed the world.
Why cant ugly people be successful, singers, and entertainers. Seems we want to look at beautiful people, our eyes are ahead of our ears in terms of perception.
This seems to ring true in terms of our children and generation Y. You Tube is the biggest internet site for gen Y. Flat screen TV's, gaming consoles, My Sky, and more.
Seems kids of today are in fact overwhelmed with certain sensory skills.

Should we use this technology to hook our learners, our interactive whiteboard argument seems to be entering here. Lets give them the gaming and television all in one classroom learning tool..... make sence? So do our classrooms need to cotton on to this.

I think we should be taking the opposite stance and ensuring that we address areas of sensory learning that children are now missing in their childhood. I reckon (without any research or data) that more kids are growing up with television, computers, gaming than with books and outside play. (am I right, genius eh)
Its a bit like the "girls dont do well in science" arguement, you can either do more social studies or attack science full on.

so where is this whole blog going here..... reading and writing, listening and speaking, seems to be where the lack of development is most evident in young kids.
ka hikitia research says Maori students need to make their best progress in literacy/numeracy in the first 4 years of school or miss the boat.

So lets be experts and stick to our knitting, all with a smile, chuckle or laugh.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Jellyfish vs the Blue Suits

Here is the article we were all waiting for.

Those cheating lying bstds- who the hell do they think they are - now we will see if our schools have the guts to stand up. I wonder if the NZEI has one tiny touch of spine in them, or will the jelly fish wobble back to their pathetic labour spiral of hugs for the whanau.

Im actually loving this scenario building, I wish the TAB were running a book on the outcome. You have got to laugh at the National parties complete and utter incompetence, it's worth buying tickets to this show.

"The standards will not require each pupil to take the same test but will see existing assessments translated into a result that can be measured nationally. Data on each school's overall pupil performance would go to the ministry."

Here is the easy way to get around this one. ESOL kids don't sit the tests and other children will be harmed by the testing so they will not have the stress of testing subjected on them. this is what every secondary school in NZ currently does by selecting who sits the tests and who doesnt. This will have an immediate impact on your "results".

You know what - maybe anne tolley never mentioned league tables, maybe Nationals views haven't changed at all, we have lots of testing tools available- use the ones that suit you, send your charter and results of you goals to the MOE and allow parents access to your chosen testing. maybe thats nationals view.
Maybe that spineless lot (NZEI) are on the attack.
Maybe NZEI mentioned league tables and played that card cause they cant play a bulk funding card any longer.
Maybe the high tide has wobbled in and the jellyfish are in the waves.
Maybe I will never ever get an NZEI travelling fellowship.
Maybe the nats arent cheating lying bstds.

get your tickets - its gonna be a great game!

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

A fresh set of eyes

It's a great feeling when you seem up to your neck in work and feel like you are treading water and you get a visit from the BOT appointed external appraiser. Well actually it can be quite a threatening feeling, I was using irony.....
Truth is though if you want the tick the box type of appraiser then yes the threat would be very real. Luckily I have an appraiser who comes in, and is prepared to listen, a former principal who has sat in my chair. I start with what's happening and move through where we have been so far this year, the list on the jotter pad starts to grow, yay I have achieved something.
In actual fact i'm starting to feel like its actually been a relatively productive start to the year. I know he will be back and dig a bit deeper, but what I really appreciate is that on a day where I was probably under a bit of pressure, another set of eyes and a kind ear was required.

I remember when I was up north and it was the final newsletter for the year. I decided to flick back through the school calendar and write a list of "remember these" events from the year. I ended up with two sides of A4, I remember looking back at the newsletter and saying "a bloody good year".

I've heard a few teachers, seen a few tweets, most mumbling that the term has flown by and "I haven't achieved much". Write a list of all the things that have happened in your class, assemblies, trips, shared lunches, class blogs, sports events, web posts, that great artwork, cool things that happened. Send it home to your mums and dads, send a copy to your Principal. Go on I dare you to write the list. You have achieved, you just need a fresh set of eyes.