She was already teaching at Newmarket School when I arrived and I had the good fortune of relieving in her class for the first term in 2009. It had been a while since I taught 5 year olds and coming down from senior students I might have spoken a bit stronger with the children than I intended. But Jane was there to subtly remind me about other people’s children.
That first year I was reintroduced to Smarty Pants by Joy Cowley, one of Jane’s favourite children’s authors, and my senses were flooded with crazy 5 years olds interpretation of being a smarty pants. Those MASSIVE drawings took up the whole wall. I was also reminded about giving the 5 year olds extra time to have their breaks. Jane ensured that they began eating five minutes before the school bell rang.
The week we had swimming, she asked me to lead like a mother duck. Those of you who know me know I walk really fast. I got halfway down Broadway before realising I had left Jane, the extra parent helpers and the children around the corner still coming up Nuffields street. When I got back to her, she shook her shoulders, smiled and said “ that is why we leave a little earlier.”
Jane found out I was keen to learn about Tui’s and so she brought me old books to help me with my Global Project. We spend several sessions talking about Tuis and it was through Jane that I found out that Tuis don’t generally walk on the ground because they have curved claws from hanging onto branches. I also found out about their brush tongues through Jane.
I wrote about Jane before when I wrote about our schools history and how she alluded me to the fact how huge it was. It is because of Jane that I began collating images and historical artefacts about our school. It was through Jane that I found out about ‘Ti Tutahi’.
After she retired, Jane continued to work at our school supporting our children with reading. She always told me how amazing the children were and could stretch them through a passion. She would go out of her way to look for science books, insects books, story books, that would fit the level of the children she was working with.
She had two sons of whom she was immensely proud. Sometimes she would ask me if I had caught up with their lives on Facebook. That always made me giggle because I spent several years trying to get her to turn her teacher laptop on. However she discovered the ease of the smart phone for keeping in communication. I would sometimes bounce her tidbits of information that she could watch on youtube or read on her smart phone. She would respond in kind with photos of the grandchildren. Just last week I had rediscovered Emere’s speech on the environment and had thought how I must share that with her.
Jane had such an interesting life and she knew so many people. I remembered when the Prime Minister and Governor General visited to talk to our students about leadership. I often wondered if it was her connections that helped our case for a visit. She used to tell me about her life as a young wife for Hone Kaa. How the presbytery was the stopping in place for the various movements that passed through over the years.
She was interviewed by our children about her part in the springbok tour and I remembered what an incredible impact that was for the children to hear from someone who was there.
Jane hated photos and being photographed with a passion and had a way of sneaking away. But over the years I did manage to get a couple. When we set up the historic photos outside the hall, I even managed to sneak one of her in there. You do have to look for it.
Ah Jane I am going to miss our talks. No one else quite gets those Tui’s like you do. I think of all the service you gave Newmarket School, all the families you have been a part of the dinner tables conversations, and how you helped leave the school in a better place. I know you will continue to read my blog from where ever you are.
I have been using book creator on and off for a few years since @Allanahk introduced me to it. This year I began using it again but instead of an app on an iPad, I have been using it on chrome and absolutely love the new features.
Last term I worked with the year 3 students at our school and wanted to publish their science learning into a book. Which I did. Here is the link to see all the science books collated together as one large book.
I really like book creator because of the way I can control how the book looks.
My favourite part of book creator is being able to use it with my learners. This term I have a writing project and book creator is at the centre. I think it is the ideal tool to showcase the children’s writing.
As I investigated more about the tool, I found out that Book Creator headquarters is in Bristol, England. You can find out more about them here on their linked in page.
My journey to New Zealand begins a little before the day we left. Some of the earlier footage shows me between the age of four years old to 10 years old. There is even a really short clip of me in New Zealand washing dishes with my sisters. I would have been about 4. My story is helped because my father had a movie 8 camera and so the memories of our journey were captured in movie form.
Our travel story began at Faleolo Airport in Apia Samoa. The year is early 1973.
I was born in Samoa during the year of independence. My father was a New Zealander who travelled to Samoa for overseas experience. He met my mother whose father was Danish and whose mother was Samoan. They fell in love, married and had a family there. They lived together in Samoa for 14 years and had four daughters. I was number three. Kathie was the eldest. Dad nicknamed her ka’avale because her initials spelt Kar. Then Astrid, who was known as Aiskulimi, named by my great grandmother, myself Sonya, named after my godmother and finally Biddy nick named after my paternal grandmother, shortened from her real name of Brigitte.
My early years in Samoa were idyllic and I often view those early times with rose tinted glasses. I was able to grab some of those moments of sea swimming, of visiting grandparents each weekend, visiting Savaii and always seemed to be surrounded by cousins and extended family. I love Samoa, my culture, my language and my people. My childhood memories of Samoa are like a long summer holiday by the beach. The sun is always shining and the sounds of everyday life and life smells like the umu, ground oven fires, are vivid. The trees and grass are always vividly green and the sea and amazing colour.
My narrative began the year I turned 10 and our family had an enormous adventure. We were moving to New Zealand for good. We would leave behind an extensive extended family with heaps of cousins and we would also leave behind maternal grandparents and childhood friends.
So this day began at the airport. I was there with my mum, dad and three sisters. We had special outfits made for the journey. Us ladies were all dressed identically in pants suit with a white blouse. The three younger ones wore green. My hair was blonde and short. My eyes were grey more than blue. At the airport, all the extended family were there with us. Included in the farewelling family was my great aunty Else who was visiting my Grandpa. She lived in San Francisco. In the video there are snapshots of aunties and uncles and of course the cousins. Unfortunately I had to cut a lot of dad’s movies because of quality.
Memories I have of that day was the weight of wearing shell necklaces. Also being given American dollars and at the time the total of $5.00 seemed like a fortune. The most I had ever held previously was $1.00 Samoan money.
The biggest conflict we had as a family was deciding what was important enough to take with us. I do not remember much of the decision making, but can remember packing and packing and repacking. Mum had to downsize the house contents. I remember the wooden packing boxes, but little else. The treasures I brought with me were my doll collection, my stamp collection, my Langelinie Danish blue plate and my Hans Christian Anderson book of fairy tales. I cannot remember packing clothes but I must have included clothing.
Another conflict was saying goodbye to everyone we knew. Saying goodbye to grandpa and nana was the hardest because they were such a huge part of our lives.
After saying goodbye to all the family who had come to the airport to farewell us, we flew to Nadi, Fiji. I believe we overnighted there. My main memory of Fiji was being sick with my first migraine and my older sister Astrid taking care of me. She held my hair from my face while I was sick and she massaged the back of my neck. She kept wetting the flannel because I was so hot.
Our next stop was Auckland where we paid a toll to cross the harbour bridge and we stayed with my Uncle Einer and family. Those memories included picking and eating strawberries for the very first time. My aunty Sigrid whipped creme and again this was my first experience. We played and got to know our New Zealand cousins and those early visits remained such an important part of our extended family relationships. This family had a massive pohutukawa tree growing right in their back yard.
Then dad hired a car for the journey south. The car seemed enormous in memory but the video shows not that large. In the car we had our luggage and we all piled in. The memories of that trip included the sounds of the lamp posts whooshing past, like the sound of helicopter blades, We travelled really fast compared to how we would travel on the pot holed roads in Samoa. We saw hundreds and hundreds of sheep. Their noise sticks in my mind and there was a lot of open farmland.
Our next stop was Foxton where we stayed with my Aunty Shirley, my dad’s older sister and her family. We had fish and chips. I had never eaten that before either.
From Foxton we travelled to Wellington and we must have crossed the ferry but I have no memories of that part of the journey or of travelling down the south island to Christchurch.
My next memories were of the motel we stayed at while our house was being finalised. We watched Coronation street and I could not understand what the actors were saying because of the strong accents. Coronation street is an English programme.
We visited my paternal grandfather and he took my little sister and me down to feed the ducks on the Avon river.
Soon we moved into our new home and I remember thinking how small the new house was. There was not much land and the neighbouring houses were really close together. There was the most incredible vegetable garden with several fruit trees growing. The fence supported a massive grape vine with three varieties of grapes. We spent the rest of the summer making friends with the neighbouring children. They were curious about us and us of them. They all spoke so fast that I was continually challenged to understand them. I had grown up in the Samoan language and all of my previous schooling had been in Samoan. Even though we spoke English when dad was around, my English was not as strong as my Samoan language. Another memory I have is the telephone. In Samoa we had to call the operator but in New Zealand we could dial using a rotary dial phone.
Then school began for the new year and I was placed in standard three. (Year 5). My teacher was Mr Syme. I was the oldest in the class because in Samoa I was the generation that began school at six years old. For the rest of my school life I was always the oldest pupil in the class.
During my first week at school, I received an absolute growling because I had run on the verandah. I knew I was in trouble because of the teacher yelling at me. I had no idea what he said, but all I knew I was in big trouble. Luckily my own teacher rescued me and explained what I had done wrong and spoke with the growling teacher. I was terrified. My other memory of school was being asked to read aloud in class. I read the word guinea pig as gunner pig and all the children laughed. My second year of school was much better. I had a really nice teacher called Mr Marshall who helped me heaps with my maths. So I think at that time my maths was not the best. He used to read to us everyday and let us draw. He also played softball with us regularly at lunchtime.
The school seemed so rich with a large swimming pool and we had class lessons every day. My other memory of that pool was ice on the water before we got in. We would swim with the ice if we went in first for the day. The school had flushing toilets and they even had toilet paper. In Samoa we had to take our own toilet paper. The classrooms had windows and the desks were individual. So there was a lot to get used to. One was having lunch at school. Lunchtime at school always felt wrong and really weird because we were not used to that. The school days seemed so long too. In Samoa we began at 8.00am and finished at 1.00pm. I spent many lunchtimes in the library because I felt so odd and the other children would continuously ask me questions. I played softball and was really good at catching long balls. I learnt the violin which was an instrument my oldest sister Kathie played. One of my biggest challenge at school was learning the children’s names. The names were so different to what I had been used to. Names like Carmel, sounding like camel. Robert, Stephen and Nicola are some names I remember.
The other difference was the school we attended was a state school and in Samoa we had attended a Catholic school. Dad bought us each a second hand bike and I was soon riding to and from school. That first year, Canterbury had heat waves and chickens died on the farms. Then that winter we had snow and got a week off school. I had never seen snow before. I biked to and from school regardless of the weather. I biked when it hailed and I biked when it snowed. The winter season was always so cold. I wove a scarf on the school loom that I wore to keep my nose and ears warm and I made myself some gloves from sheepskin. I have no idea where the sheepskin came from but those gloves saw me right through to high school. In those days we did not wear hats at school.
Years later I found out that we had moved to New Zealand for two reasons. One was to be closer to my fathers aging parents and the other was so that we could have a good education and go to the local university.
Dad continued to travel back to Samoa for his work while we stayed in New Zealand with mum. When he returned he always brought island food and letters from Samoa. This was before the internet. On some journey he brought us tape recorded messages and so we could hear our grandparents and cousins voices.
The food was a challenge. I remember eating cauliflower for the first time and at how disgusting it was. The coffee was instant and we were used to bean coffee back in Samoa with heaps of sugar. I missed eating taro and having fresh tree ripened bananas. The store bought bananas took a lot of getting used to, if we could get them. Other than that we were able to buy rice and eat similar food to what we ate in Samoa. We hung out for palusami and ground oven cooked taro when dad came back.
My father’s father passed away in the second year we were in New Zealand. I am glad we were able to spend some time getting to know him. We all had a good education and a couple of us went to university.
Before I know it, I have lived in New Zealand for over forty years. The years have flown by and I now love New Zealand and call New Zealand home. But Samoa will always be my first home.
I still visit Samoa when I can and have taken my own sons back for visits. I still speak Samoan and recently learned how to master chop suey like how my grandmother made it. I have learned to make palusami using spinach leaves, but the taste is not quite the same. I learned to love cauliflower when I discovered that it needed serving with cheese sauce.
Sometimes I do wonder about what might have happened if we had remained in Samoa. I wonder what my life would be like now. I wonder if I should have returned and brought my sons up in Samoa when I had the opportunity. I also wonder what I would take if I moved to another country.
Like the bird in my proverb, I already was grown and had all my markings when I left Samoa. Coming to New Zealand to a new environment does not change who I am. What the new environment does is add to my story.
For you reading this:
Are you a migrant, or a descendent of a migrant?
What is your story?
If you write one, can you please share your story with me?
Those of you who know me will understand why this reflection is endorsing Hapara Workspace and how fabulous it is for leading professional learning. I have all my badges for Hapara and here is my Hapara Champion Trainer certificate to confirm that I have completed all three levels of training.
I love using Hapara Workspaces for learning and this year I added all our Newmarket School teachers as learners in Hapara Workspace. As part of my Champion Trainer Certification I built a workspace for teachers. However I did not build this from scratch. I took our 2018 PLG workspace that our ISL and I collaboratively created, made a copy and then ensured that it was framed with Visible Learning Concepts in that all the goals and rubrics were clear and explicit for each section.
Our current workspace ensures that our Newmarket School teachers can learn from the In School Leaders (ISL) in our school and they can do so on their own time, without the need for face-to-face meetings or substitutes. Our workspace allows us to experiment with leading professional learning in our school. Each section is packed with resources including readings and videos to help explain the focus of each professional learning strategy. Each part has a landing page so that everything is one click away. Each part has an assignment that we ask teachers to do to help drive their own learning deeper. These have been framed using a SOLO Taxonomy rubric co-constructed with the ever fabulous Pam Hook.
For us as ISL and ASL in our school we can quickly pull up examples of our teachers professional learning and lessons that are active in the workspace.
Within our workspace, my favourite section for 2019 is our newest section.
We asked our teachers to ‘To video teaching a targeted strategy which gives attention to student learning.’ and to share the link on Hapara.
This part has been really exciting because by the end of term 2, all of our teachers had carried out videoing a mathematics lesson and nearly all had shared it on Hapara. My principal asked us how did we manage to get our teachers to do this. My response was, transparency using Hapara Workspace. The goals and the rubric were clear. Also our ISL expected it to happen and continually reinforced this during staff meetings and team meetings.
I took many of the ideas from the Hapara trainer course and incorporated these into our workspace.
I have to give a shoutout here for our fabulous Senior Management Team at Newmarket School. They were the first to line up to complete their Champion Educator Certificates using Hapara for teaching and learning. They would never ask us to do something that they were not prepared to do themselves.
Also for our teachers at Newmarket School because just about all of them have completed the Hapara Champion Course. Just waiting on a few more then I will get a Hapara Grelfie, ‘Group Selfie’.
I also give a shout out to our ISL leaders @Nikki_From_NZ and @BelindaHitchman who lead professional learning in our school and were the first to get their maths lessons videoed and shared with their teams. Talk about Teacher Agents at Newmarket School. They make things happen. What a fabulous evidenced example of teachers preparing to share their learning with their peers and to give and receive feedback.
I wonder if I can push our teachers just a little further and see if they are willing to take up the Hapara Champion Scholar course. This second course focuses on pedagogy and looks deeply at learning from student perspective. This course also ensures that learning is really transparent for the learner with goals and forms of assessment really clear on their workspaces. They need to be aware that they will get feedback on their workspaces from their peers in the course. I also wonder if our teachers would be keen to video and share a writing lesson.
Imagine the resources being created for our future teachers by our current amazing teachers.
I already have a history with the waka hourua (double hulled canoes).
In 2011 I was privileged to catch a ride on Gaulalofa. This year I spotted an advertisement on Facebook for Tirotiro Whetū, a free event offered as part of Matariki and was sponsored by AMI Insurance. The opportunity was too good to miss and so I jumped at the chance to ride another waka hourua.
We climbed aboard Aotearoa One for a special vessel for a three-hour sailing trip out on the Waitemata Harbour. Aotearoa One is a modern take on a traditional hourua (double hulled) waka and was launched in 2003 for Te Wananga o Aotearoa at their Mangere Campus in Auckland. This evening the boat was skippered by Dale and crewed by members of Te Toki Waka Hourua. The main message from Dale was ‘Don’t fall in the water.’
We set out from Orakei Marina and headed out into the Waitemata Harbour. The evening was cold and luckily we had been warned to come prepared. So I did with thermals, a hat, gloves, scarf and a waterproof jacket. On the way the sun went down and the sails were hoisted. We sailed past Auckland Business district to a beautiful display of fireworks for Bastille Day. The sun dipped lower and lower and with it the changing evening colours reflected in the clouds. Eventually we were in darkness and the city lights reflected on the water.
Unfortunately the sky was overcast but that did not stop the stories. We sailed under the Auckland Harbour Bridge and Ataahua Papa, Matariki Festival Director for Auckland Council, explained the Vector Lights on Auckland Harbour Bridge. She narrated us through the light sequence. She explained how this year’s host iwi for Matariki Festival, Waikato-Tainui, created the stunning display of lights. More can be read here. The full sequence took just over eight minutes.
As we motored back Hoturoa Kerr shared his knowledge about traditional Maori and Polynesian culture and sailing methods. I loved hearing the stories of my ancestors. With the stories, we were served warm soup and a roll and then a mug of hot lemon drink. This came at a good time because by now the cold was settling in.
Finally we arrived back at the marina and disembarked.
My reflection, wow what an incredible experience going out at night on a waka hourua. I felt Manaakitanga as we were taken care of so well by the crew. I felt whanaungatanga as part of the events of Matariki that brings all of us together to share in an experience. I thought about my key word of Turangawaewae where I am learning more about who I am and my place in the world as I learn more about my past.
To everyone involved in the Matariki organisations for Auckland, thank you so much for sharing. Thank you for making this evening possible. To AMI Insurance, please continue with your awesome support within our community. To Ata and Hoturoa and the crew of Aoteroa One extra special thanks go out to you for your time and for sharing your knowledge with us.
I was also extra lucky because Virginia, our initiative Champion for Mathematics, is an Adjunct Lecturer for the Auckland University and Newmarket School is a university partner school. Through our school’s involvement with the university, the other part of my paper’s fees were covered.
A decade has passed since I have studied at post graduate level and so I undertook the challenge of completing the paper. The extra pressure of having the fees paid for was my greatest incentive to complete the course. I believe that if I had not that incentive I could have very easily given up.
Those of you who know me might have
wondered where I had disappeared over the past few months. I have been
The course overview indicated that we would
focus on critiquing historical number systems as a way of illuminating
theoretical issues, and informing our teaching practice, around learning number
and place value concepts.
I always believe and say that I would never
ask teachers to do something I was not prepared to do myself. I am conscious
that my maths is not as strong as it could be and I remembered the year I spent
extra time learning maths with one of my teachers when I first arrived in New
Zealand. I also remembered a high school teacher spending time with me to help
strengthen strategies in preparation for school examinations. My brother in law
also spent many afternoons helping me with my maths knowledge and I passed high
school maths, but only just enough to get me through.
So maths for me has always been a
This post graduate paper introduced me to
Ancient Egyptian Mathematics and Ancient Greek Mathematics. We learnt how our
ancient maths ancestors developed their systems of calculations and we made
links of how we could transfer this learning for when we teach children. One
section of tasks was to test our children and evaluate where their gaps were.
The gaps we identified for was Place Value. As educators we must take this part
of mathematics seriously because most of maths knowledge hinges on place value
What I learnt doing the course was a lot of
what I needed could not be googled. I used youtube as much as possible to help
with explanations because the research reading we were given made very little
sense. Maybe because the topic I chose was not an area of strength, like
language acquisition would have been.
Some of what I did to help with
clarification and understanding was to use digital readings and flick them
through word clouds so that I could identify what the key ideas might be. I
also used free summariser to shorten huge reading down into an understandable
paragraph. Therefore when I reread the whole article, I had a sense of what it
As assignment deadlines loomed, I also gave
up hope of achieving with excellence and just focussed on completing the assignment
and uploading it on time.
I created a couple of videos to help me
explain thinking, but learnt quickly that one minute of video equals
approximately 100 words of writing and yet took a whole day to create.
My learning from completing the paper was identifying gaps in children’s mathematics and what to do about it. But would I do another paper?? Maybe. However I believe my other professional learning developments add to my microcredentialling such as completing Hapara Training where we focussed on Andragogy, or the book I cowrote with Pam Hook using SOLO Taxonomy, or the Global Educator Certificate with Julie Lindsay, or the collaborative projects I lead such as EdBookNZ where I have worked with forty educators to create collaborative books for education, or the TeachMeetNZ project where I have worked with 120 educators sharing their learning in three minute videoed presentations, or all the conference presentations and staff development I have led, as well as twitter for up to date professional readings, have contributed more to my professional learning than completing a written paper on my own. My other challenge with post graduate studies at Auckland University is that none of my other achievements count towards a qualification and yet they accept educators coming in with a Diploma of Education at Masters Level. I wonder what their digital portfolios look like and if they even share them.
I had Ginny with me and we had plenty of discussion which really helped. However more could have happened in a collaborative way. Yes we had group discussions and group problem solving, but we did not take that collaboration further. More could have happened in co-construction and co-creating. The online learning seemed really surface. There is a massive range of tools out there that could be used to help with co-creating. The simplest being google docs. Knowledge is the start and that is what this paper did. But now to take that knowledge and set up ways that our teachers and students can cocreate with it. I have ideas for maths week.
My Cumulative GPA currently stands at 5.361. But that is still not enough just to do the research component, I have to go back and do more university papers at post graduate certificate level and like I said all the other collaborative work I have done makes no difference.
I finish by thanking my school, Newmarket School, the University of Auckland, the Ministry of Education for covering my fees. However my biggest thanks goes to Virginia Kung, our initiatives champion who prodded me into doing more than just leading the Mathematics Initiative.
On Thursday the 25th of April in New Zealand, we remembered ANZAC Day. A day most of us associate with a holiday. However the day means so much more than that. ‘ANZAC’ stands for Australian and New Zealand Army Corps. ANZAC day is the most important national commemorative occasions because it marks the anniversary of the first major military action fought by Australian and New Zealand forces during the First World War.
Each year I remember my paternal grandfather because he served in both world wars. He enlisted when he just turned 18 years old and served until he was well into his forties. The second part of his service happened when his children grew up without his home presence and his wife was gravely ill.
War records indicated that in 1915 he enlisted when he was 18 years old and was sent to Egypt. His skills as a rifleman were legendary. That and having 20/20 vision in both eyes meant he was a sniper. War records showed his role.
In 1917 he was injured and transferred to Hornchurch Hospital in England. Family stories share how he was gassed and developed rheumatic fever for which eventually he was allowed to return home to Loburn, Canterbury New Zealand.
He purchased his own apple orchard and spent the next phase of his life growing apples in his own orchard in Loburn, just out of Rangiora near Christchurch. My father tells stories of returned servicemen gathering at the orchard both for work and for reminiscence. When the second world war broke out my grandfather was back in service but this time leaving a wife and two children to look after the family business.
At my school this year, my team created an assembly to highlight what we learnt about ANZAC day.
Then in the holiday’s we visited the War memorial at Newmarket park that has one of our past assistant principal’s name engraved on the memorial. Several of our students took part in the Newmarket Business Parade down Broadway to Newmarket park.
This post allows me to unpack my understanding of Wairuatanga. When we stood together at Newmarket Park and heard the birds and the wind through the trees, I felt the wairua of the place. I think of Cyril Moore who lost his life at 32 years old. As we reflected on all those who had fallen during the first world war and those who returned changed by the experience of war. We remember their families and whanau.
We remember the thousands of young people who lost their lives for king and country. We remember the other side too, who were defending their homelands from invaders.