Thursday, December 2, 2010

It's Try Time!

Had a graduation dinner the other night for the 94 year six students who have had 6 years at our lovely kura (school). It is always a good night and I find myself up there thinking about the speech from last year and generally winging another spiel. Last night when faced with the leavers and their parents I realised how many interactions, how many stories, how many moments I have had with the very cool bunch. Having a daughter piled in with them was especially pleasing because I had closer interaction with the families of those daring enough to befriend the littler Podgorani.
I was really chuffed to see the many parents who have worked so hard to help there little guys. Parents who over the years have, mended books, volunteered for reading, been on camps and trips, turned up to assemblies. The thing that hit home to me is that you can have classroom performance as much as you like, but building a big family in a school is essential, treating kids like they belong, like they are loved, showing them and their families that you care, this is what truly makes the difference.
The thing is that I should care about their academic progress and I do desperately, but somehow I know that their interactions, behaviours, attitudes, families, still hold their destiny. Sure, we have got over the line with so many of these guys, but there are others who I know will stumble, and I hope there will always be someone to help them up. I hope our attitude and direction is enough for the rocky times. I do know though that those great teachers are out there to pick up my 94 mates and make sure they do get over the line. Kia Kaha to our profession and thanks in advance, oh and keep an eye out for Racheal she is gonna need a hand up occasionally.

Clever man at the ministry of education pockets 72 million

It's time to just ride the wave and get the job done, it's the silly season.
I've been coming to grips with the Ministry of Ed's new "low prediction of students" policy. Basically they predict you will have less kids next year and staff you accordingly. You see they are making an overall judgement (OTJ) but with your estimated roll numbers. The hidden agenda is that if the "OTJ" has lower numbers then you get less staff. If you knock half a teacher off every school you save $30,000 x 2400 schools, thats lots of cash and 1000 less teachers next year, just through an "OTJ", see what happens when you teach to the test, you pass! Just what the MOE man got from his boss, a pass with flying colours and a saving of $72 million.
If you think this is a conspiracy and a bunch of whispers then ring ten Akld principals and ask how much their staffing has been reduced by, I did, and the total from ten schools was 35 less teachers. I know times are tough but I wouldn't want to be a part timer or someone who is looking for a day here and a day there, the squeeze is on and education is like a wedge of lime sitting on the lip of a cold corona. More than half the schools in Akld appealed their staffing with over a hundred appeals being sent to Wellington for the boffins to over-rule, it happened, we got nailed people, join the dots.
On a brighter note I can tell you that the challenge of restaffing our school was seen as a opportunity to clarify what we think are the non negotiables and what we see as important in our school. I know we have found a great balance and we are positive about our staffing and the direction we are going. My comments above aren't actually a bleat they are just the facts. I am actually struggling to see why our beloved unions and associations haven't taken up the fight. Most probably the NZEI were fighting for some small % increase which was offered, I personally would have much preferred more staffing than a pay rise, the job would get done way better, with more time to dedicate to teachers and kids, and less stress.