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?