Sunday, February 28, 2010

How do you choose?

The gossip over the weekend. So a certain DP's daughter's girlfriend's boyfriend (thanks @mumbleboy for the apostrophies) left a certain fee paying high school on "the shore" to go to another undisclosed (public) high school because he plays basketball and the private school couldn't provide a team in the elite grade. Wow. I had to blog this and i'm currently tweeting and texting everyone I know. The DP who broke this gossip thought this was news.

The thing is that kids leave schools and go elsewhere for lots of reasons, parents and kids, it seems, have that choice. The thing for me is that in the 80's when Podgorani wore walk shorts and sandals, moving schools was tantamount to treason. Kids that left a school to go elsewhere were not tolerated. Now basketball, photography, golf, lawn bowls all provide opportunities. People, parents, kids all realize that we don't all have to go to grammar to be lawyers, and everyone at grammar doesn't have to be a lawyer. We have a choice, and we should be proud that our education system and the people in the system recognise opportunities and kids can chase their passion while getting an education.
I know that the walls close in on those stuck in the poorer areas, but there are so many opportunities for everyone who looks hard enough. This young girl is living proof of that.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Trade me is better than a blog. Whats next.

Kerry Hawkins cleverly used trade me as a blog post to get attention about the national standards. This was a brilliant way to make political noise over and above the blogosphere. Blogs can become very ho hum, and it can become difficult to rise above the electronic noise and social networking chaos of the www. People only have 500 characters on trade me so the answers and questions were luckily limited, otherwise there may have been a few novels written.

This leads me to some new thinking around the next big thing. The man who cleverly sold his washing machine on trade me through some clever wording. How about how MacHeist they get you to buy software real cheap, and then force you to retweet as a term of the sale. Its all on, in the world of ewaste and some people are doing very well from it thank you very much.

So how does this have any impact on a school and what are the ways you can stand out from the crowd. Everyone has a web presence. Why are we wanting to stand out from the crowd ? What pieces of cool exciting web 2 software will be the next big thing ? How will we use them cleverly to get the best mileage?
Nowhere in the above paragraph was learning and kids mentioned, so that is also a question. What motives do we have to ensure what we do, fits with our school ethos.

A teacher recently said to me "I hate wikis", after agreeing and hearing the gasps from a certain facilitator and a charming DP (from the other side of Auckland) I thought thank god it's not just me. The thing is that we all have different view points on this technology and every angle is an angle. It's when we don't know the software, haven't tried it, then we wont be able to make the call.

So this rambling rubbish needs a finale :
Thinking differently about the web could result in an absolute goldmine for a school, it will happen, someone somewhere will have a brilliant idea, and it will change to goalposts forever.

If you want a web 2 presence then you have to be out there with ideas, contributions, comments, those who watch from a distance need to get involved. Kids who leave comments leave a link to their learning, and once that link is clicked the hook is in and the kids are away. GET INVOLVED.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Its all on

I know its February but i've just finished reading all those stories, blogs, articles on my RSS reader. Boy is my head spinning. The elephant in the room is definitely National Standards. People either wont say anything or cant shut up about how bad they are. What i'm going to do is treat them with the respect they deserve, which is not much. Who really cares, if you want to run around and boast about your standards then you might be part of the problem. The parents will get some sort of chart, the MOE will get some shitty information that they can stick in their pipe, and the Herald and Metro magazines can butcher the data. My mate Mr Russty has been quoted in both the Herald and Metro in the last 15 months and both times what he said was twisted. Teacher bashing has started, luckily we have amazing parents who continually say thank you, write great emails and are very very appreciative. We are good, and I think all teachers who are good should be bigger than all the whinging.

Great start to the year with the "meet the teacher" night already over. We had it from 5.30 for 30mins, then families brought blankets and picnics and sat around for an hour in the sun. The cool thing is that when these events are in weeks three or four the parents actually think you have something to tell them, after three days of school, meet the teachers is exactly that. No speeches, no microphones, just chick chat, introductions and lots of community. 300+ turned up.

Teacher only day was a bit of talk and lots of fun. We had an hour at school followed by three hours at Wenderholm, food, refreshments followed by another 2 hours on the water kayaking from Wenderholm to Puhoi. The fun bit was that the kayak was wind and tide assisted. Add an ice cream on the way home and it was the perfect way to slide back into (or out of) the office.

Had to share this gem. One activity happening @sumprimary last week was around four classes mixing groups and taking photo stories of the school and its people. These groups were mixed year levels and I was a victim who was needed for pictures. So as kids carefully approached my door I would always ask the older kids "who is this little guy" it was an easy way for me to start to learn the new entrants names. This one young fella walked in and I said "hey mate come and sit over here you ninja" the 5 yr old replied immediately "i'm not a ninja i'm a maori". After a week of school I think his teacher might be calling me Nostradamus.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

We should return the favour

Need to talk about a mate up north, when I say mate I don't use the term lightly. I'm talking about a man with a heart as big as all outdoors, a guy who left school at 13, who dabbled with gangs, crime, raised 7 siblings when his parents died, raised 8 of his own kids and is now onto raising his grand kids. All this and he is about 6 years older than me. Me and my nice clean house, two little podgorani's, mrs podgorani, and the four legged potlicker. Mr education, nice job, lovely but blissfully ignorant.
My maori bro uses the harbour like his local shop, nothing new here. The thing that amazes me is that when the fish aren't biting he goes for cockles, pipis, oysters. No snapper doesn't mean no fish either. Mullet run in the estuaries, flounder in the shallow bays, kawhaii in the inner harbour, piper come out at night, whitebait, even parore in the creeks. I've seen my mate go for all these fish, enough to feed his family and a few mates, someone who calls in, or the whanau in the big smoke, its always all about feeding other people. When the fishing is crap i've seen my mate head to the creek for eels. Its a joy to watch, he just loves feeding everyone he can, the stories are rich, the recipes hilarious, and love for whanau unmistakable.
I am so lucky to be part of this whanau, not by relation, but by the fact I taught the kids 10 years ago. So when we go fishing together I just shut up and learn. Have you ever had a net in the water, full of flounder and then pulled up a stingray at least a meter across with a long tail? What do you do? Me I shit myself, my mate says nonchalantly "pass me the knife", he's a bloody legend. I've nothing to offer apart from steering the boat and rowing quietly which I can't do well enough.
So what can I do for him. His kids and now his grand kids face an education system that continues to fail them. The local school got the worst ERO report ever written. There is no other school in the area, all the others were closed under the Labour Govt. National are now saying they will fix it with testing and reporting on progress. Sorry guys this wont fix it either. By the way these are the exact kids who aren't even sitting NCEA level 1.

My mate Mr Russty says no one wants nat standards but no one offers any other solutions and something has to be done.
I have some solutions/ideas but the union wont like it. I want ERO to have the ability to sack teachers and principals who are a joke, the ability to pay some good people heaps, to sort out the schools that need it. I want principals who are doing great stuff to be able to take a break of two/three years, pick up the failing schools and return home after the job has been done. I want real principals to develop aspiring principals, not these w...kers in wellington running psychometric tests on potential principals. I want schools who have rubbish BOT's to be given autonomy to get the job done without communities interfering. I want leadership from the MOE/NZPF not "here is your property" - but leadership, leadership we respect, here is your performance on all sorts of levels, here is how you can improve, hey you're doing a shit hot job, go help Bob down the road or take this school and come back when you've nailed it.
Here is my absolute clanger:

There is no incentive for Principals who are doing a great job to move. Bring in eight year contracts. You must leave after eight years, full stop. It isn't fair that my mate up north can teach me so much and I cant help him.