Influences and Effect Sizes on Writing

Hattie highlights that the diversity of our children makes a (d=0.11) difference to outcomes. Well that knocks out the statement ‘Our data is shyte, because we have so many ESOL children.

Research Based

Hattie’s research stresses that the greater than (d=0.40) is what makes a difference in class programmes. I read this to surmise that our second language learners should make minimal impact on class programmes.  Again it all comes back to the teacher who makes the greatest difference. Teachers trained in second language pedagogies. Teachers who empathise with our second language learners because they themselves have experience of either living in a country other than English or who are learning a second language themselves. An experienced teacher is an experienced teacher. Probably one of my greatest criteria is an empathetic teacher. I know because I am also a language learner.

I remind readers of the research of Collier and Thomas whose longitudinal research provides us with a historical way of viewing our second language learners. Their research looks at how long it takes for second language learners to achieve academic success and they say 1-2 years for Basic Interpersonal Communication and then on top of that between 6-8 years of Cognitive Academic Language Proficiency in their second language for evidence to be strong and again it all depends on class programmes. Ideally there should be an emphasis on first language maintenance too and then we would see even greater accelerated progress.

So our children are at primary school for 6 years. Therefore if they began at 5 years old in their second language we should see catching up with national standard data by intermediate levels and even secondary school. Yes it takes that long. Again when I see the high gains at years 1 and 2 with teachers telling me that the children are at standards, I usually respond with, “Great now let us see if they hold that when Cognitive Academic demands becomes more evident after three years at school and above. You know, that crazy year 3 dip in writing that appears to be common in most New Zealand schools.

In our Community of Learners (ACCoS) I am extremely excited because finally I will get the chance to see if the results from Thomas and Collier pan out. I have had snippets from past second language learners who began with no English and who have gone on to take away their school prizes in literacy at high school. I have often wondered how our other children do. Unfortunately in our CoL we will only be able to see our girls achievement at secondary school but can still make smart guesses about our boys.

A class teacher would find the challenges of having a dominant mix of ethnicities and a vast variety of English Language Proficiencies extremely challenging. However a proficient teacher will search for ways to cater for all their students. Unfortunately there is no quick fix, iPad app, computer programme, ILE or writing strategy to ‘fix’ this. Only time and an unwavering belief that our children will succeed and we all need to be pushing them along.

I have been working with a group of English second language learners in writing.  This is what I do to support them.

Background

Most of the children have English as a second language. However I also target anyone who needs support at the same level. I thought I would write about the process I undertake so that others might find it useful. I stress here that the best support is ideally within the class programme. But sometimes for intervention the spread happens across several classes within a team. I work alongside teachers so that the writing emphasis is similar to what takes place in class and the children remaining in class are also writing. The last thing language learners need is withdrawal and missing out on class programmes. They are already late to the starting line and we do not want to push this starting line back further.

The children I have selected for this piece of reflection are all year 4s. They are mostly boys but Hattie has reminded me that a boys focus only accounts for a (d=0.08) improvement. Most are second language learners but again Hattie has indicated that this makes (d=0.11) difference to what I do. Last year as year 3s, they sat at 1P for writing and so are below. However most were at for writing in year 2. Last year their reading was at for year 3.

Hattie’s Influences that I will focus on

So as an experience Second Language Teacher and one who uses SOLO Taxonomy to frame what I do,   I will use research (meta-analyses) ranking the influence of different strategies on student achievements (Hattie 2009, 2011, 2015) to explain the strategies that I have chosen. Hattie suggests that  the following influences will help make the greatest difference in student achievement.

  • Cognitive Task Analysis (d=0.87) using SOLO Taxonomy to identify where the task sits  on Cummins Task Difficulty.
  • Opportunity for class discussion (d=0.82)  and what we know about privileging opportunities for students to speak.
  • Meta Cognitive Strategies (d=0.53) using SOLO Taxonomy and Second Language Learners because I have coauthored a book with Pam Hook about the process of learning framed with SOLO.
  • Concept Mapping (d=0.64)  using Hooked on thinking Maps because they are research based and framed using SOLO.
  • Small Group Learning d=0.47)  using targeted intervention for writing such as the SOLO Taxonomy list of writing words identified in SOLO Taxonomy and Second Language Learners.
  • Parental Involvement (d=0.49) by making contact with families through a phone call and have one piece of writing each published in the school newsletter this term.
  • Self Questioning (d=0.64) using, ‘What am I learning? How is it going? What do I do next?’ as a daily beginning for each lesson used from Hook.  

The first thing I always do is look at the children’s historic data both in reading and writing. I did this for my targeted learners using our Student Management System, Edge.

results

Here is an example

First I located last years writing data in PDF format and printed this off for the children. I had them look closely at their data and highlight where they sat against National Standards. Then using a different colour they highlighted areas that required improvement. For my current group they all highlighted planning and structure. Often I see planning lagging right across all year levels and structure from about year 4 and older.  Next we scaffolded what planning is, looks like and how to do this.

So together we created a group map using SOLO Taxonomy Hexagons to list our ideas. Together we grouped our ideas and came up with sub titles for the groups. For this purpose I used colour post-it notes.

After that I took a photo of the Concept Map and gave each child a copy to use for their writing. We constructed the success criteria with an emphasis of ticking off any ideas we used in writing.

Finally the children used their individual photo of the co-constructed map to write from. Just before they wrote they numbered the subtitles to help with structuring their writing. I gave them a 20 minute timed task and recorded how many words they wrote in 20 minutes.

How did we go?

We looked at what we wrote and identified

  • that not enough writing was generated in the short time.
  • that paragraphs were not happening (structure)
  • in addition very few relational SOLO Taxonomy written words were used.

So that became ‘What do we do next?’

For the second piece of writing, again I used a shared experience and had the children create their own describe map using the previous subtitled words they had identified. They were given 5 minutes to plan and again 20 minutes to write. However for this session I realised I was missing the discussion part. Hattie’s elements identified that classroom discussion accounts for an effect size of (d=0.82) so have added this to elements to focus on. In addition using Cummins continuum I realised that what I was asking from the children was cognitively demanding and was context reduced because I did not provide enough support either visually or with front loading.

When the children finished the writing using a pencil, they transferred their work digitally to their Google Accounts and added more. Immediately I saw a doubling of written words in a very short time.

Now in planning for the third week of writing I will now include.

  • Meta Cognitive Strategies (d=0.53) using SOLO Taxonomy and Second Language Learners because I have coauthored a book with Pam Hook about the process of learning framed with SOLO.
  • Concept Mapping (d=0.64)  using Hooked on thinking Maps because they are research based and framed using SOLO.
  • Opportunity for class discussion (d=0.82)  and what we know about privileging opportunities for students to speak.
  • Ensure that the task is cognitively demanding and content embedded.

For this week I will also include a co-constructed Hooked SOLO rubric because by now the children are developing a sense of the planning process. From previous experience I also know that the rubric contributes to the cognitive strategies by allowing self reflection using evidence base in what the children can see in their writing.

planning

Reflection

I still need to slow down the writing process but not loose sight of accelerated progress. I continually try and speed up the process.

I can continue to give oral feedback and follow up with a written comment.

I want to use digital tools for the total process to see if this makes a difference to the volume. My only challenge is using google draw for planning and the children cannot tick off their plan.

I wonder if I should trial presentations for the writing process because the planning tools can be manipulated better than in draw and docs. Unfortunately presentations does not have the word count feature which I really like to visually motivate the children.

Think aloud.

By stepping through what I do using this think aloud reflection, I can identify my strategy gaps in what I did with my learners. The main was was giving a cognitively demanding task but with little support or the opportunity for discussion.

I cannot emphasise enough the importance of using shared language experiences for writing.

How often do we dismiss these for writing prompts because we do the same activity every year or every term. However by utilising annual or termly school wide activities in writing we develop a resource of snapshots in time and if the children are curating their work digitally we should be able to see a development in their writing using the same prompt.

Where to next

Make a connection with families. I kind of do this anyway but really need to lift my game and make this visual by tracking when I do this. I did this really well two years ago and need to revisit those home connection strategies.

My group will soon carry out their written asTTle test and I like to follow this process with marking and moderating alongside their team. I will compare their data with their historic data and see how much this first term intervention has made a difference. For a couple of the students I also want to follow up with their reading data because I am not as confident that they will sustain the levels they were placed at the end of last year. Using probe will confirm or dispute this assumption.

In addition I really want to dig deeper with our year 6 national standards data. When I track some of our ESOL learners who have been with us for three years I can see they have met after three years at school standard. But against national standards their data is well below. Looking at it a different way. They came with no English and then after three years at our school, they met after three years at school standard. Personally I confirm this as accelerated progress. What do you think? Are they failing? If you want to know more about the process of writing with ESOL children then you cannot go wrong with SOLO Taxonomy and English Language Learners: Making second language learning visible. Personally I cannot recommend this resource enough and not just because my name is also on the cover but because it is applicable for any writing programme.

References

Collier, V. (1987) How long? A synthesis of research on academic achievement in a second language. TESOL Quarterly, 23

Harris, A., & Goodall, J. (2008). Do parents know they matter? Engaging all parents in learning. Educational Research, 50(3), 277-289.  

Hattie Ranking: 195 Influences And Effect Sizes Related To Student Achievement

Hook, P., & Van Schaijik, S. (2016). SOLO taxonomy and English language learners: making second language learning visible. Laughton, United Kingdom: Essential Resources.

Chinese Scholarship Programme -Beijing

china

Thanks to Huang Wu who helped stage this awesome photo.

This year I took an extra plunge at being the learner to walk in my learner’s shoes. I placed an application for the Chinese Scholarship Programme to Beijing. This week  I received news that I have been selected as one of twelve New Zealand educators to go. I am super excited. I have been to China twice before.

The first time to Shanghai to visit my homestay. The second time to Winan about three hours north of Xian, famous for terracotta warriors. The focus of my second trip was to attend my homestay wedding. This time I will be visiting Beijing home to our current Mandarin Language Assistant.

Last year I was in a massive learning curve as I opted to learn and teach Chinese as part of my role as an ALLiS Lead teacher for Newmarket School. I always say I would never ask teachers to do anything I was not prepared to do myself. Pushing my comfort zone and with encouragement from our TPDL tutors, I sat and passed HSK Level 1.

I pulled together all my learning for 2016 and included this in my application.

When I reflected on the past year for learning, it was massive. My biggest reminder is how hard it is to learn a language. Especially one with a different script and with tone nuances. It took me ages to memorise characters for numbers and even some basic characters. I still rely on Pinyin which is our script and know that I have to work really hard to leave that behind as a learning crutch.

One of the focus of the scholarship is developing intercultural communicative competence. An area that I am passionate about. There will be some extra-curricular activities such as visiting historical sites, experiencing life on a Chinese university campus, a homestay, a visit to Hanban and school visits. I really hope to climb the great wall of China and take the tourist selfie. I am especially keen on participating in immersion tasks designed to encourage interaction in everyday situations. I felt a little discouraged during the summer vacation when I met a new Chinese family and I could not pull my formulaic phrases out fast enough. I hope I can put to use my Thursday lessons with my student tutors who worked with me for most of last year.

Our trip host will be Jiwei Fu, National Adviser for Chinese, ILEP and programme host. We will be based at the Beijing Language and Culture University and if that is no more than a coincident but that is the university of our current Mandarin Language Assistant Xuan.

Next week we will all meet together and begin the induction programme. I hope everyone is on WeChat the Chinese Social Media Communication space.

While I am away my usual social media tools will be blocked by the great firewall of China but that is not a problem because this year at my school most of the teachers have been using WeChat with our community so I will be able to keep in contact with school. I will also be able to communicate with my host daughter in Shanghai who has had a baby. I would have loved the opportunity to pop over there to hold her but that will have to wait for another visit.

I often just do things because I believe I have nothing to lose but in order for this trip to go ahead I needed my principal’s and board’s approval and my sisters support because they will be looking after my aging parents while I am gone.

Why am I going? Well for me the greatest reason is to learn more about the children that I teach. I want to make stronger connections. A key towards empathy is learning some of their language and learning about where they come from. I am an ACCoS Across School Leader and in our Community of Learners we have identified that our Chinese learners are growing in greater numbers.

Where to next

When I return from my journey I am expected to share and implement what I learnt with our students. In addition I am expected to share at clusters, networks, language associations, conferences and various other professional development sessions including my work colleagues. I am also expected to continue teaching Mandarin which I will do. Part of that includes continuing with my night classes at Unitec with Huang and learning Mandarin alongside other amazing people. This year I set a personal goal of achieving HSK Level 2. If you want to know more about WeChat download the phone app and then look for me. My id is: Ulimasao. I love WeChat for the ease I have with translating from the language being used for communication and back into my own language. What an absolute gem for our migrant families.

EPS -Educational Positioning System

eps

Tē tōia, tē haumatia

Nothing can be achieved without a plan

The ACCoS CoL have achievement challenges which act as a roadmap to identify where we have come from and where we are going. Our Achievement Challenges set realistic goals by supporting learners as they move through their learning using the national curriculum.

The core purpose of CoL is to know learning is happening and how to capture it. Over the past few weeks I have been comparing results from previous years by tracking historical data at our school. It is powerful to know that learning is taking place by observing the progress constantly. I have been aligning the reading with the writing data and have been looking at trends. When I lay the English Language Learning data alongside then interesting trends begin to surface and I think back to the graph of Thomas and Collier who describe the length of time to gain academic proficiency in a second language. I have been reading up on attendance and how much of a gauge that year 7 attendance has for achieving NCEA levels. The national data shows that higher decile schools have stronger attendance than lower decile schools and that Asian learners have the strongest attendance data of all groups.

Learning on the job, with senior staff, mentors and coaches is the way to go and our ACCoS planned for Across School Leaders to be trained in coaching skills. At our school our management team found the training invaluable so much so that we have focussed on coaching skills for all our teachers for this year.  We know that sharing best practices is where real change happens. As educators we have to be  accountable to our learners and reduce the levels of mediocrity in our education system.

Being strategic is knowing what to achieve, and then finding the best ways to get there” (Kaufman,1992).

2016 is the third year year for ACCoS and this year I can already see a change happening as our Across School Leaders swing into greater action with a greater focus on empowering all students for success. There is a stronger direction of data and a revisit of our achievement challenges. As an ASL team we are in the process of completing our first yearly report. We have begun meeting with our in school leaders (ISL) and the minutes coming through highlight the following :

  • Drilling down to find more specific information on each achievement challenge.
  • Comparing results from previous years by tracking historic data.

I have learnt to look for what cannot be seen and look for whose voice is not being heard.

Where to next for us

  • Data

This year a greater part of our work will be looking closer at our data. Research in assessment indicates that assessment information should be drawn from a comprehensive range of diverse sources including at least one norm-referenced or externally-referenced tool. We have it stated in our achievement challenge under evaluation that is an ACCoS expectation and it is now a matter of ensuring that all schools and teachers have this same message. The ministry have made our task so much easier by including all our data in one space. We will share this with our In School Leaders at our next across schools meeting. We have asked for all In Schools Leaders to bring their 2016 school data and we will begin the task of data discussion. I believe that we will all need training on data analysis. Many of our primary school teachers are just beginning to use spreadsheets and that is why working across schools is so exciting because we can call on our secondary colleagues who have been doing this for many years. As we dig deeper with our data there will be dips and that helps identify what still needs to be done. If we consistently focus on Hattie’s Effect Size and look at ways of measuring interventions then there is less chance of ‘plucking the baubles on the Christmas tree.’

 

  • Parent Engagement and Participation

 

Our fifth achievement challenge is Parent Engagement and Participation. We have also highlighted this achievement challenge as an area for greater focus this year.

There are pockets of excellence across our schools and it is timely to share these. So again this will be another area of focus for our in school leaders. This achievement challenge will be another reflection from me.

This week we will be meeting again as an Across School Leadership team and I look forward to the discussion with my colleagues.

Those of you who are part of CoLs what is your focus for this year?

Endnote

As an analogy I was searching for something in education that was similar to ‘GPS’. So I searched for Educational Positional System and this link turned up. I felt deflated because I thought I had thought of it first. But not to matter because this is a fabulous read.

http://eps.core-ed.org/eps-difference

Reference

Kaufman, R. (1992) Mapping Educational success: Strategic thinking and planning for school administrators. Newbury Park, CA: Corwin Press

Other links of Interest

Global Collaboration

Last year November 3  I joined Julie Lindsay and several other Global Educators as part of K12 Online Conference’s.

I was part of a panel discussion around ideas presented in Julie Lindsay’s opening keynote presentation.

Some of the panelists included

  • Dr. Leigh Zeitz: ISTE Global Collaboration PLN President
  • Lucy Gray: Global Education Conference
  • Anne Mirtschin: global educator from Australia
  • Sonya Van Schaijik: Chinese language teacher from New Zealand

The discussion was hosted on youtube and the audience were invited to comment and ask us questions.

Before the session, Julie sent us questions of what she would raise so I created some notes for the session.

 

Why is online global collaboration important as a pedagogy? as a curriculum?

For me it is glocalisation. Where I have taken what I have learnt with Julie and put a local context on it.

Our classrooms at Newmarket School are already filled with a face to face of the world. I believe that global collaboration is important as a pedagogy because it exposes our teachers to the changing face of our classrooms. Making connections and collaborating supports our teachers and students  as they develop empathies for their new friends. A classic example for us was when we worked with Lincoln School in Nepal with teachers Brian and Sudha. Our children in the project were worried about their new friends affected by the earthquake that they set up a project and raised money to support the earthquake appeal. Another example was using the skills I have learnt on Flat Connection and connected with our sister school in in our sister city of Ningbo China.  

2. Do educators find the concept of global education and/or the practice of online global collaboration challenging? Why? Any suggestions to help them?

Yes because initially I believe our teachers see online global collaboration challenging and as an add on to an already busy curriculum. However as I work with our teachers I support them in the journey to realise that it is should be part of what they do because we are preparing children for the now and future. I believe that if we can teach our children to develop empathy through working with children when they are young then maybe one day as world leaders they can make decisions that support peaceful initiatives in the world.

3. What is required for the design and management of online global collaboration? Can you provide examples?

I have been part of online global collaboration since I was a child and my Canadian teacher set me up with a penpal. Then when I was a younger educator I was part of UNESCO’s peace project. You do not need flash wifi or the latest technology to make connections. Just the determination to make it work. For example whether it is via snailmail, email, skype, wechat and my latest favourite technology, a  bit of bluetack to the television so that the iPad works as a camera. However the work I do and have done with Julie has allowed me to push the way I do things to a new level. One of this is the importance of values when online. The respect we show for others through the handshake, though developing connections like using a digital handshake,  because without establishing connections, collaboration just does not work.

4. Can you share outcomes of global connections and collaborations that have changed or shifted the practice/approach/understanding of you or colleagues or students? Shifted in what way?

My biggest personal shift in thinking is about construction. In 2015 I was approached to judge some of the digiteen co-constructed videos and blown away by the quality of what I saw. It takes longer to do this however the relationship building in the process is what I believe is the true learning. Last year I set up an online system to do the same thing with about 38 educators and I saw first hand that the product was just the tip of the iceberg. The relationship building through making connections and working together was the real learning.

That was my ahhah moment. This year I have just joined a community of learners (CoL) as part of our Auckland Central 11 Schools. Again we have a massive achievement goal that we have set.  I already see that making connections and relationship building across our schools is actually the key learning. Because many of our teachers have never experienced global collaboration as a pedagogy they continue to believe that face to face learning is somehow the only way. They have yet to experience face to face through technology. There appears to be a belief that somehow technology is a barrier to relationship building.

I think of my own journey with Julie. For months I cyberstalked her work and then when an opportunity came to work with her in person, I jumped at the chance. But my real learning developed when I undertook her online course as an educator. Last year I brought in teachers and students to work with me. This year I am doing the same. But even more exciting is having convinced my principal to do this because to really shift a school in thinking we know that it takes a whole school approach. I can already see the results of this happening as we plan for next year.

Some of my takeaways from the online panel discussion

  • Collaboration is collective and is about the group succeeding not the individual. Hattie calls this effective teacher efficaey.
  • We need to set up conditions and systems for collaborations. I am doing this right now with our Auckland Central Community of Schools (ACCoS) group.
  • Opening up to the world we have to admit and anticipate the unexpected. This will go wrong and it is the thinking of how we deal with the challenges.

What is it that we can know that we don’t know. Taking risks and making mistakes is valuable for learning. Perfection gets you nowhere. When I am encouraging teachers to take part in a global project I give them some idea of what they are in for. However that is never enough because they will really learn by doing. 

Being part of Flat Connections Week in the Life bring children and teachers together to work on a common issue. However the learning is really about working together to build wisdom and knowledge.

Sow and create possibilities for future generations. I am speaking here about the generation that is online in the next hour, week, month and so forth.

Create knowledge through relationships. We have been learning coaching skills as an ACCoS Across school leader and embedded in the professional learning is the importance of building relationships and everything we say and act with others must come from the human layer.

I am passionate and curious to how far I can learn online with the teachers I work with. I am not focused on an endpoint because there never is one but I am focused to see how far we can go.

As an aside you can read more about the work I do in Julies Book, The Global Educator. 

Afakasi

afakasi

Mum,  me-2 years old, dad and my older sisters.

“E iloa e le tagata lona tulaga i upu e te tautala ai.” quote from Matalaoa. 

I was born and bred in Samoa. My mum is Samoan and my dad is Palagi. That means I am afakasi or half caste, literal translation. I am super proud of being Samoan so much so that I received my Malu 10 years ago and yes I am a fluent speaker. 

Tūrangawaewae has been part of my life for most of the week as I have learnt about some distant cousins. I believe that the more I find out about my family’s past and heritage, the more my own identity changes and evolves. These holidays I have been learning more about my Samoan family. Those of you who know me, know that I am actually more than afakasi and know what an incredible mixture I have in my genealogical makeup. For me there is no Samoan term to describe my blood except it is fabulous. This is one question I should have asked Aiono Fanaafi Le Tagaloa when she was still alive. She used to always provide me with historical terms to describe modern day developments. My favourite was ‘Fau o le Upegatafaailelagi’ – webmaster. (Builder of the net in the sky.)

I have been super excited from my recent Facebook family connections. I always believe that each social media has its place and to find the purpose for it will encourage use. Well this past fortnight I have lived and breathed it as I have connected with relatives of my generation, the last of my mother’s generation through their children and starting to know the next generation. I have learnt more about the term ‘usugagafa‘.  I have managed to piece together so many gaps of our puzzle. I have retrawled Papers Past and again have uncovered a treasure trove of information. Everytime I go on the archives get better and better. Those of you with Samoan Ancestry will find heaps of information. It is still very Eurocentric yet I have managed to find many of my Samoan ancestors mentioned.  

I created shared Google Draw documents and invited branches to add their information. This has worked superbly well. The flood of photos has given me extra excitement and pleasure as mum and I have poured over faces and had some amazing bonding moments. Through her I have learnt a little more as well about her. 

Milestones.

This year my dad turns 90 and this year it is my parents 60th wedding anniversary. I have been working on my dad’s biography for a few years now and this milestone will give me the incentive to pull everything together. 

 

Tūrangawaewae

turangawaewae

In January 2016, I chose Whānaungatanga as my #oneword2016. I wrote a blog post setting 5 goals around Whānaungatanga, family, community, learning Mandarin, health and well being.

When I reflect on my 2016 year my goals have been nailed  and I feel content that I have developed growing understanding around my goals. My own understanding of Whānaungatanga has deepened and I thank Nathaniel  @nlouwrens for setting the challenges last year to help with #EdBlogNZ.

This year my #oneword2017 is Tūrangawaewae.

I have chosen this word because I believe that if you know who you are and where you come from then you are more in control of who you want to be and in choosing the paths to take to get there. I am actually at a stage of life where I feel contentment. I am happy in my work and with my home life. I give enough service to the education community to fulfil who I am. My sons are grown and I am proud of who they have turned out to be. My health is good but there is always room for improvement. By focussing of Tūrangawaewae. I want to identify and reflect on the spaces and people who help shape me. I have written about Tūrangawaewae previously and knew straight away that I have identified my oneword for 2017.

Mandarin

This year I will continue with Mandarin and take it into a second year. Yes I have passed HSK level 1 but if you throw a formulaic expression at me, I still feel tongue tied so want to move into basic proficiency communication.

Aging Parents

I want to continue taking care of my aging parents and acknowledge that is this really a family commitment and not just my decision so will continue the dialogue with my sisters. This year my dad will be 90 and I would like to complete his story with photos in preparation for this massive event and then start mums one.

Personal Health

My fitness levels have definitely improved this year and now to work on making healthier food choices. I love my bread by really must recognise the damage that this is having on my health.

ACCoS

This year as an Across School Leader for the ACCoS community I am aiming to grow the online community into a vibrant place for sharing and discussion.

Blogging and Presenting

I would like to aim for a weekly blog reflection post. I am just about there but maybe if I consciously put it out there then I will do it. I gave many presentations in 2016 and for this year I will consciously focus on co- presenting and even co-blogging.

Google

I have missed running TeachMeetNZ using Google+ Hangout and would like to run another session sometime this year with teachers from our school or in the ACCoS group. I am aiming to sit my level one Google Certification, something long overdue.

Travel

I am also really keen to travel more and will need my sisters support for this one as someone needs to be with mum and dad while I am gone.

Loss

Just on a sad note, I will be attending a funeral for a young man who died tragically. He was a friend of my younger son and oh so young having just turned 21 years old. As a teacher our students can touch our lives in many ways. I was his first teacher in that I relieved in his class the day his teacher was away.  He came right out and said who are you? I explained the circumstances of why I was in his class for the day and after that if I was out on duty he would come looking for me. As the years passed he became part of our family and would call all my sisters as aunties and my parents as Grandma and Grandad. But would still call me Mrs Van Schaijik and I never corrected him to using my first name. Events like this can remind us the importance of family and friendship. I watch my own son devastated by the event and know that this is one Christmas he will never forget and will be a marker for him for the rest of his live.

Tiritirimatangi

Just to finish with, if you are looking for an amazing place to spend a day then visit Tiritirimatangi. It is a small island in the Hauraki Gulf. Soon we will visit this incredible space for our Teacher Only Day. I haven’t quite convinced staff to come and stay there with me. For me Tiritirimatangi is one place that I feel incredibly connected to and that is what Tūrangawaewae istiri

 

 

 

The specialness of 3

three

In my family, I am one of fours daughters. Here in Auckland three of us we look after mum and dad. In my house we have three people living. They are mum, dad and myself.

In the past my house had three people living. They were my two sons and me.

This Christmas my sons spent Christmas with their dad. However circumstances change and my youngest arrived on boxing day.

I have a new set of ‘kids’ to look after and this year I put up the Christmas tree for them.

Mum helped me decorate the tree and then likes to sit in her chair and watch the lights. On Christmas eve I took her to mass and as usual the best part was singing the carols. That and her coming out to claim kisses from the parish priest. He was so sweet and teased her right back and even responded to her in Samoan.

On Christmas day we celebrated at my older sister’s house. She had her three children with her as they have all been traveling the world.

Also there with mum and dad was my my other sister. So again this Christmas us three sisters were together.

There is no way I can look after mum and dad myself so with their help we are able to have them with us. Yes there are challenges and there is also a lot of laughs and special times. This post is really about my sisters because they do a lot for me and I often need to remind myself that I have come this far through their ongoing support and help.

As soon as school finished I took off to my island of sanctuary Tiritirimatangi while my two sisters took over the evening care of our parents. I usually spend three nights there and this always allows me to feel like I have had a break so I came back refreshed.

Last night I had family arrive from overseas and again the number three popped up as they greeted each of us with three kisses.

I finished the night skyping with my cousin and aunty and took a screen shot of the three of us talking.

This morning mum and dad and I will have breakfast. Just the three of us. Then later on, us three sisters will be together again.