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.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Round and round and I found my wallet

Working on the NZC can take unexpected turns and also produce obvious results. Sometimes it takes a little innovation to rediscover something we are already doing. We have had a few meetings on values with the NZC. With lots of thought it's agreed that ownership is the most important thing for our staff, community and kids too. But the reality is that the teachers should make the decisions on curriculum as they are the deliverers, distributors and facilitators and the community and kids are the willing participants.
So lets get on with it.
We have refined and articulated our values that reflect our joint philosophy and are now looking at how to shift these to classroom practice. The thing that needs to be acknowledged is that learning needs to be the highest priority, therefore mucking around teaching a value a week or a value a term, is going to leave you vulnerable when it comes to getting the time to teach.
Most great leaders that I have followed and admired actually lead with actions. If we truly want our values to come through in our children then we should teach hard, power the work into the kids, and lead by example, they will acknowledge you as a great person and a great teacher. I think too often teachers who are known as a "cool teacher" can be slack educators. You've got to be both.
So it seems I have come full circle. Facta Non Verba - deeds not words. Vision to Action.
We are going to weave our values and beliefs around our content. Simple! Obvious! Action!

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Don't judge a book

Great to get back to reality when I visited a parent with whom I had a few doubts about how healthy the home environment might be. The young fellas are hard case and life might be a roller coaster for them in the future. I went around, as I have a few times before, and found dad in his "4 by 4 back yard" a housing NZ special. There was no sign of a weed-eater and the "grass" was certainly in need of a cut. The rubble that housing NZ gives you means that a motor-mower wouldn't have a chance with the terrain of the yard.
The beautiful thing is that if they had a mower it would get in the way of the spinach, silver-beet, watermelons, pumpkin, potatoes, passionfruit and countless tomato plants. Sure dad admitted it needed a bit of weeding but the garden was "going good".
I asked if the kids liked tomatoes as I know my billy lids aren't yet keen on tommys. He said there is no choice. I then got a Forest Gump "shrimp" story. Tomato soup, tomato salad, tomato on toast, roast tomato, sliced tomato, barbequed tomato......etc..

I suppose the point is that we often are quick to judge families and kids by stereotypes. Here is one loving dad doing the best he can. I went home with my stereotype shoved where it belongs and with a lesson on parenting.

Monday, March 2, 2009

I am still seeing red.

The blood flows with a 14 year old and his two dummy mates robbing a dairy at GUNPOINT and the terribly sad stabbing of a teacher.
Time for people to see red and do something.
judith.collins@national.org.nz we want something done about the random sale of guns and replicas, no machine guns in NZ, why do we need them? and stamp down hard on them.

Dear Mr Sumich

The Hon Judith Collins, Minister of Police, has asked me to acknowledge and thank you for your correspondence of 26 February 2009, received by this office on 3 March 2009 on referral from the office of the Minister of Justice, regarding gun control.

The Minister has asked officials for advice on this matter. You will receive a response as soon as possible.

Yours sincerely

perhaps a shade of pink now rather than bright red