Tiritirimatangi

Every year as soon as school finishes, I escape to Tiritirimatangi.
This is a time of reflection and an opportunity to recharge my batteries.
Each year is no different. Sometimes too, I escape at other term breaks. 
Tiritirimatangi is an island just out of Auckland and is only accessible by the Tirikat boat.
I usually come by myself as I enjoy the solitude.
I also like to come out on a Sunday and return on a Wednesday as on Monday and Tuesdays no ferries come here so the island is nice and quiet.
Getting ready for the journey is always stressful as I pack and try to ensure I have my togs, snorkel gear, a lavalava, my bedding and decent walking shoes. I take enough food for 3 days and a little extra in case we need to stay longer. I try and keep plastic to a minimum and use old jam jars for storage instead. I pre cut all vegetables except for potatoes. I take clothes in layers. Eg, bike shorts, loose pants, singlet, t,shirt, long sleeve shirt. Rain jacket. I always take a sun hat. The stressful part being, have I got everything? Once on Tiri it’s not like I can pop down the road and pick up milk. We are talking isolation. I stay at the DOC accommodations which is really like glamping. They have bunks, solar electricity, running water, cooking gear, gas stoves and even a microwave. Devices can be charged and sockets are shared. 3G access is a bit naff, unless I climb the hill and balance on one leg with my arm stretched out.
Once leaving Auckland, the ferry travels for 50 minutes and stops at gulf harbour to pick up the next group. Then in another 15 mins we are there.
On arrival the ranger call all arrivals together for a quick debrief and gear is loaded onto the service trucks. Like I said, glamping. I walk straight to the accommodation and unpack my gear, have my lunch then head over to the other side to search out a quiet spot. Accommodation is primarily for staff and volunteer supporters. However if you are really lucky, you can score a spare bed. Don’t forget ear plugs, because you might end up with someone like me who snores. 
I don’t want to share too much regarding the Island as the supporters of Tiri make money by selling maps and general information. It only costs a $1.00, so do buy one. 
In the forest I sit and listen to forest sounds. I sit and listen to the birds calling each other and can identify most of them. I hear the wind passing between the tree branches and in the distant I can hear the waves of the sea as the tide changes. I love seeing the leaves of the trees move gentle in the breeze. If I find a warm spot, then it is a chance for a nana nap. Where else in the world could you do this and not worry about personal safety?
My favourite time of the day in the forest is early morning or early evening as the birds wake up or quieten down. The Tui are always the first up and are the last to sleep.
Sometimes I listen for the wing sounds of the birds and see if I have identified them correctly when they come to my view. My favourite wing sound is the Kereru as it whoomp whoomp past and sounds like a helicopter.
I have many favourite spots on the island and one is the bird baths on Wattle drive where I can sit and watch the Tui dart back and forth to chase of all the birds who try and sneak in for a splash. Every so often one gets in and I watch them having a cooling down session. I also like this part of Tiri because I have seen the Kokako here many times.
As I sit I identify the smells around me and generally it smells like compost. This is a good clean smell. 
If I have woken early for the dawn chorus and as the forest quieten I usually make my way to the beach where I like to have an early morning swim in the area where the Tirikat docks. There I have seen sea horses feeding on seaweed early in the morning. Depending on the season, I love to float on my back and watch the kereru swoop from tree to tree. If I swim near the rocks, I watch the kakariki parrots chattering on the harakeke that grow along the shoreline. If it is December I can look up the shoreline and see the Pohutukawa trees in full flower and I know that summer has arrived. The holidays stretch out in front of me and I sigh blissfully, because I know how fast they pass. 
I have met some interesting people while visiting Tiritirimatangi and most come for the solitude that the island gives. My favourite is when there is a researcher and often they are so excited to share their findings with a complete stranger. I also love finding old timers who have been there since the beginning and they always have fabulous stories. Generally though the usual clientele are Tiri supporters who have come across to help with island maintenance.
Every time I have visited I have managed to see kiwis at night and I always see the kokako. 
I take the same paths and I swim in the same spots. Each visit is different to the last.
I visit the shop and spend a few hours but do not buy much. I just love to see the art work and to see if the local artists have really captured the life on a Tiri and generally they do.
Visiting Tiri allows me to reflect on my place on earth and after each visit I return home with renewed energy to remind others of leaving a legacy for future generations. 
Do you have a favourite escape place? Where is it and why is it special? Do share and tag me. 

Connected Educator



The Connected Educator at Newmarket School.
Very soon Dr Wendy Kofoed and myself are presenting at Ulearn14. Our presentation centres around our teachers. The title of our presentation is ‘Before collaboration teachers need to make connections.’ Do join us at Ulearn. We are Breakout Four A on 09 Oct 2014 at 13.45-14.15. This post has developed as part of my teacher inquiry around ‘Connected Educators at Newmarket School.’
In our school’s revised strategic plan, one of our guiding principles is Whangaungatanga or connectedness. As Wendy and staff have been working at crafting our strategic plan I have been revisiting my own understanding of whangaungatanga. For me as an efellow that is about my understanding of hyperconnectivity which is all about the relationships we build and how we build them. The Samoan word for connectedness is Va Fealofani and in Maori it is Whanaungatanga.
So some of my own questions include:
·                What does a Connected Educator at Newmarket School look like?
·                What tools do they use and why?
·                How do they share what they are learning?
As I have been thinking and reflecting on connectedness Wendy has been looking at the big picture. Her own inquiry centres around ‘Challenging Learning Design.’ I look forward to her sharing her own inquiry.
At Newmarket one concept we have is whakatauki which is sharing our stories. On our boundaries and dotted within our school we have Harakeke growing. In the springtime when the Harakeke flowers we have Tui come and drink the nectar. So I begin my post with the following proverb and have changed the word kōmako for Tui because we do not have bellbirds.
Hutia te rito o te harakeke
Kei whea te Tui e kō?
Kī mai ki ahau;
He aha te mea nui o te Ao?
Māku e kī atu
he tāngata, he tāngata, he tāngata
If the heart of the harakeke was removed,
Where would the Tui sing?
If I was asked,
What is the most important thing in the world”?
I would say
It is people, it is people, it is people
If I frame this post around the current three school values I am already confident about our presentation focus. Our three values are whanaungatanga, manaakitanga, kaitiakitanga.
I use these concepts and their definition to frame my current thinking around Connected Educators.
What is a Connected Educator at Newmarket School?
Whanaungatanga – Connectedness
Being connected requires learners to develop a secure sense of their own identity and agency to think and work towards where their potential might lie.
Newmarket School is already a strong learning community that collaboratively constructs knowledge to form a foundation for learning. In order to achieve this we aim for all our teachers to be connected educators. A Connected educator at Newmarket School understands the concept of whanaungatanga. They are someone who focuses on building relationships with each other, our community and our children.
A connected educator at Newmarket School knows how to use the managed online tools to find people and how to connect with them. They think carefully about the dynamics of interactions. They actively use Facebook, Twitter, Skype, Google+, LinkedIn, and other media tools to make connections and to build their own personal learning network. Because we are in New Zealand a connected educator at Newmarket School’s learning kete includes some New Zealand managed tools such as Pond, Virtual Learning Network, Myportfolio and the School Google+ community to find other New Zealand educators and to actively connect with them and build learning relationships.

What tools do they use and why?
Manaakitanga  – Generosity of spirit
Developing the ability to walk in others’ shoes which includes seeing issues from others’ perspectives and thinking carefully about the dynamics of interactions.
A connected educator at Newmarket school knows how to use and take the tools from their kete to move their practice forward. They know how to get the learning needed to improve the craft of teaching. A connected educator at Newmarket School knows how to use Google Apps for Education to crowdsource and share ideas. They are participants in online learning communities that can be found on the Virtual Learning Network and via Google Apps for Education. They take part in twitter chats such as #edchatnz to connect nationally with other New Zealand educators. They know which chats connect them with educators globally. They use a wiki, blog and or google sites as a sandbox to test their learning with online tools and show what has been learnt. They attend online New Zealand webinar such as the Virtual Learning Network monthly sessions. They curate their own learning using Pond and make connections with other New Zealand educators to share what has been found and learnt online. They know how to bring back what they have found and learnt online and share it with their school community via a reflective educator blog. Personal learning is transparent, visible and accessible by all.

How do they share what they are learning?

Kaitiakitanga – Guardianship
Ensuring sensitivity and thoughtfulness of actions in environments both local and distant.
A connected educator at Newmarket school knows how to build their community of practise that has active participants like guest speakers and where everyone co constructs knowledge. A great example of this is #TeachMeetNZ that takes place each term.  They know how to reflects on what they have learnt and make this available for all via a blog, Google Doc, wiki and or a site.  

I began this post with a whakatauki and I end with a whakatauki.
·                Ka rongo, ka wareware
·                Ka kite, ka mahara
·                Engari, mā te mahi ka mōhio.
·                I hear and I forget, I see and I remember, but through doing, I know.
Overall a connected educator at Newmarket School knows how to grow as a professional and to empower each other and their students to build their own personal learning networks to learn using the technologies that are available. Much is learnt from each other, with each other, and with the children that they teach.

As an update, a few hours after writing this, I revisited some of the education terms that have been popular in recent times. I realised that I have been doing the same thing and that is highlighting a key education term. What the originators have done is take a key word and added a descriptor to it to make it sound different. However the key word it self is fine if we view it through an extended abstract lens. Those of you who are SOLO Taxonomy educators will know what I am talking about. I created a visual to better describe what I mean.
So returning to Connected Educator and the whole point of this blog post, I finish with ‘ A Connected Educator at Newmarket School is a Newmarket School Educator.’ 

(When I write I create a rubric from Pam Hook’s site using the SOLO Taxonomy Rubric Creator. 
I use SOLO Taxonomy to frame my thinking and clarify the direction of my inquiry by asking clearer questions. Here is my Connected Educator rubric.)




Travelwise

Today was our  Travelwise Lead Teacher day held at the Trust Stadium in Henderson.
One of the most important aspects of these days is the opportunity to network with other Lead teachers from around Auckland and curate ideas that we can use back at Newmarket School.

A real highlight for me was seeing Christine Allen and Veronica Verschuur from Marist School. I worked with them many years ago.

Russell French designed the introductory session so that the information was front loaded using a QR code activity. We moved around the room scanning QR codes in order to locate correct information of facts asked. We could have also googled this information but the opportunity to try a digital activity was fun. Russell then shared with us the rest of the information via his presentation.
He then continued and introduced us to the work of Robert Cialdini and how to link this to our days learning.
Cialdini’s 6x principles of persuasion and apply it to Travelwise

  1. Reciprocity
  2. Commitment (and Consistency)
  3. Social Proof
  4. Liking
  5. Authority
  6. Scarcity

We moved around the stations of activities set up by the CTCs and we covered a lot of information in a variety of ways. 


    WOW www.atwowcalendar.co.nz . I was interested in seeing the WOW calendar set up as a way of children taking responsibility for data entry using the new online system.
    The day was fabulous as it reminded me of what I still need to do at our school.
    So here are my goals until the end of the year.
    • Complete our time zone map and photograph hazards.
    • Revisit our Walking School bus idea. Particularly as we are going through a rebuild and we don’t just have a hazard at the gate we have a Tsunami.
    • Set up a Travelwise display board. At this stage I have no idea where to place it as we are going through a rebuild. Maybe I will create a digital display and resurrect our Travelwise pages on our school Enviro wiki and revamp that.
    • I really liked the idea about surveying our parents and identify where they drop our children off so will create a google form for that.

    After lunch, I presented our school’s trial with the Tracksafe resource framed using SOLO Taxonomy. My pechakucha ended up being presented eight times so by the end of the afternoon I was hoarse. However I was excited as I could see where Virginia Kung and I need to improve on for our Ulearn presentation when we share how we have used the resource at Newmarket School.



    Mentoring

    Mentoring

    On the last week of the holidays while many teachers were taking a break from face 2 face classrooms, three teachers from Newmarket School traveled down to Hamilton for 4 days of learning at the Ulearn conference.
    Reubina, Natasha and I drove down together. Natasha was the navigator and Reubina was the driver. Me? I organised lunch.
    This year Reubina was presenting for the first time and I was there to mentor her. Natasha joined us for extra support.
    While I was away on sabbatical I set Reubina the task of clarifying her inquiry and to gather photo evidence to share.  Which she did.
    While I was traveling on sabbatical, the three of us met using google + hangout and discussed the process of her inquiry.
    When I returned, it was a matter of sitting with Reubina to help clarify the thought process. It helped that I have been through the experience myself with Dr Wendy Kofoed our principal when I first presented and Wendy mentored me through the process to clarify my thinking.
    Reubina presented and was a star. She was articulate and clear and her slides reflected her thoughts. 
    Meanwhile Natasha was onto google docs and reflected at each presentation she attended so that I could see where she was in her thinking. The experience allowed me to see how we could use google docs further for sharing learning as a breathable document.
    Each teacher attended a selection of sessions where they were up to in their own learning. They both supported me when I presented and it was exciting to have them with me.
    The highlight for us was attending AllanahK and Barbara Reid’s session on Getting good with google. Together we could discuss what we knew about the apps for education and share how we would use them. Both Reubina and Natasha have been trialling a Chrome book and it has been great to see the their shared learning around using Docs.
    Ulearn brings together a wealth of knowledgeable educators who make connections both online and face2face. I was able to meet new people, catch up with old friends and put faces to twitter handles. The three of us had an amazing evening at the dinner and like true professionals we all got dressed up in the evening’s theme.

    What I take away from my sessions is the importance of teachers sharing their critical inquiry to a greater audience. Newmarket School supported Reubina and I in our presentation at Ulearn as part of our professional development. Because we had both been accepted as presenters the process enabled us to have in depth discussions as to what our inquiry looked like. Presenting to an audience allowed us to ensure that we revisited the purpose and goals of our inquiry regularly to check that we were clear on the purpose of our learning as educators.

    In the past I have regularly attended Ulearn on my own at my own expense and I appreciate that Newmarket School thinks that presenting at Ulearn is important enough to support me.

    Ulearn13


    On Thursday the 10th of October, I presented at Ulearn13 conference my TeachMeetNZ project that has evolved extensively since the beginning of the year. TeachMeetNZ is the culmination of my investigation into Hyperconnectivity when I realised that in order to shift my learning I needed to create a site for educators to come together and share. This year I launched TeachMeetNZ as part of my TeachNZ Sabbatical. 
    This TeachMeetNZ presentation time was especially interesting because I had with me 5x virtual presenters who shared their own inquiries. The event was live streamed from the front of the TeachMeetNZ wikispace in front of a live audience.


    I must thank Becky @BeckyHare26 and the Ulearn13 Tech Team who ensured that I had all the support I asked for and needed to run a successful live Hangout.
    Each TeachMeetNZ presenter shared something unique to them that was important to their learning and highlighted for me how important it is to have a vehicle for sharing of teachers’ inquiry.
    If you want to see their inquiries and reflections then you can hear and see their video and their slides on TeachMeetNZ_Ulearn13.

    Because TeachMeetNZ is all about sharing of learning I have added my slides for viewing from my Slideshare site.
    TeachMeet 3 Ulearn13 from Ulimasao Van Schaijik

    One highlight for Ulearn13 was meeting Mark Pesce @mpesce who has influenced my efellowship learning around Hyperconnectivity.
    As I reflect on my efellow’s project of Hyperconnectivity I realise that I have created a site for teachers to share their inquiry and have already curated 15 teacher inquiries. So do visit TeachMeetNZ.
    Mark guided my thinking in that what happens between the nodes of connectivity is what influences the connections and to pay attention to what cannot be seen. 
    From this third TeachMeetNZ I must acknowledge Chris Dillon who has clarified my thinking about having digital badges and ensuring that the badge clicks back to evidence of learning. I had begun the process of awarding a badge but had not thought about ensuring they link back to evidence.
    From Chris Swanwich, I have realised that if I focus on teacher inquiry, as part of TeachMeetNZ New Zealand Educators will have a rich source of resources to refer to when they undertake their own inquiry. 
    From Hanna Fale I take away that the Learning Environment is conducive to children’s learning and it is the educator who frames that environment with their own understanding of learning. So I continue to frame TeachMeetNZ environment to cater for the evolving demand.
    From Tim Gander, I have already framed the next step of TeachMeetNZ when we undertake a PE Google+ discussion using TeachMeetNZ as the site to pull it together.
    From Melanie Matthews, I am reminded to continue framing my learning using SOLO taxonomy as SOLO pushes my own thinking to deeper levels. If I stretch my thinking then everyone I work with is also challenged in their own thinking.
    So where to next?
    I am running another TeachMeetNZ in November and hope that you can join us virtually as again we share teachers learning and reflecting on practice.
    If you would like to be part of a future TeachMeetNZ hangout to share your learning, please contact me, alternatively you can put your name down on the wiki.
    What you get out of sharing on TeachMeetNZ is a 
    • The opportunity to meet and make connections with other stunning educators.
    • Digital Badge for your portfolio with a link to evidence of presenting on TeachMeetNZ. 
    • A wiki page that you will have embedded your slides into
    • A 3 minute video clip of your presentation
    • A photo of you in the hangout 
    • The chance to present to a global audience.
    I also have ideas of discussion for targeted areas of interests that have been seeded by Tim and Marnel. Both these stunning educators have presented on TeachMeetNZ and have recently been awarded an efellowship for 2014.
    In addition I have some invited Global Educators who have agreed to hangout with me with invited New Zealand Educators. That is coming up soon.
    To make the wiki even stronger in Teacher inquiry, you can add a comment to the teachers pages or follow the discussion on twitter using #TeachMeetNZ.
    So do you have an inquiry that you would like to share with a greater audience? It can be an investigation that you are undertaking in your classroom.

    My learning in London

    I used my ipad to navigate the massive unknown city easily. I felt like I was learning on my feet. I was continually adjusting my expectations and flowing with whatever happened.
    I had a goal of meeting some London tweachers and one in Essex but unfortunately to circumstance meeting them did not eventuate. Not to worry as I will catch up another way.
    However the greatest learning happened with me. I have booked to be in China for 6 days but if I organised my visa too early, it would no longer be valid when I got there.
    So via the Internet I managed to schedule a meeting with the London Chinese Visa Office. I needed a letter of invitation from a contact in China and copies of variety of papers. This was all achieved and I needed to return a few days later to collect my visa and my passport.
    I took the opportunity of visiting my dad’s family in Essex and it was exciting to visit the area that his father came from. Using technology I put the cousins together using facetime and to watch the pair chat excitedly to each other was priceless. Face to face communication via video chat is becoming easier to use than a phone and a lot cheaper too.
    The closest that I got to a local school was staying right behind one in the town of Maldon.
    Maldon is world know for Maldon salt. My second cousin whom I had never met put me up for two nights and spoilt me rotten with her time and hospitality. It was such a lovely experience to meet family and its as though I have known her all my life.
    To get to Maldon, I took the National Rail to Chelmsford and then caught the bus to Maldon. On the bus I had a lot of help for some locals who directed me when to disembark. I loved hearing the almost cockney accents.
    After doing the reverse trip, I was soon back in London and spent the afternoon travelling to Twickenham and discovered it as the centre place for English rugby. I popped there to visit a brother of an old friend.
    The following day I took a full days tour to visit Kensington Palace, Stonehenge and then Bath. All were amazing places of history. I particularly loved Stonehenge and could have easily spent more time in Bath for its fascinating history.
    During the trip, I was exhausted and as soon as I got on the bus, I was asleep and only woke to get off and visit these amazing places. My biggest learning is pacing myself and not to stress if things do not eventuate. Use every challenge as learning and try and eat properly and drink my water. Plan time to write and to catch up with family and friends back home. I love using instagram and twitter as a way of micro blogging and sharing photos with my friends and family back home. I have also started to use viddy more with short snippets of video to help visualise my journey. I am challenged with using facebook and think I would like to create a slideshare next from Denmark and include audio to share with the children at Newmarket School.

    Tips for London

    In London, I rode the buses, the trains and the tube to get around
    One great idea is to get the Heathrow Express to Paddington Station and from there, you can literally get anywhere in London. The journey takes 15 minutes so well worth the extra. To get to my accommodation I booked a prepaid Heathrow Express online, but this is not really necessary as there are kiosks for buying tickets. The journey took 15 minutes and it was in air-conditioned cabins.
    Again Viatorwas most useful for tours. Here are the current deals for London. One tour I took was visiting the Eye. I took this one so that I get a Birdseye view of London. One recommendation is not to visit in the late afternoon and the position of the sun made it challenging to get any decent photos. And get the fast track ticket. The normal queue was a 3 hour wait.
    I visited family in Essex and took the National Rail line to get to them. The Train line,  and City Planner and National Rail are great apps to download. It is probably a good idea to zoom out on google and identify the area you choose for accommodation. Most have a local rail link that easily connects to the main tube systems.
    For dinner, I recommend finding La Fiama a little Italian restaurant that makes the most amazing and reasonable authentic Italian food. I got to meet Fanco Manco the pizza Chef.
    My accommodations included the Crown Plaza and the Best Western to be close to the Chinese visa application. Both I got through last minute deals. If you use any website for cheap accommodation do pop onto Trip Advisor and see what the latest feedback is.
    The Crown Plaza was most luxurious but they were going through renovations. Fortunately I was waking really early so construction sounds did not bother me from 8.00am. The Best Western, was great and suited me fine and I think that it is time for New Zealand to consider selling single rooms in stead of just doubles. After returning from Essex I stayed at the Hyde Park Boutique. They put me in a basement room. Again I was happy with the accommodation.
    To get around I used the fantastic Oyster Card system.  For ENG 2.50 you can hop on a tube and for Eng 1.50 you can get around on the busses. This was a tip that I received from a coupe of friends who had recently been through London.
    So in all using the buses are a cheaper way to getting around the centre, but the tube is definitely faster. Without the oyster card, the trips would be double in price. . There were times too that I used the black cab, but that was usually if I was a little lost. The cabs are constructed in a way that there is heaps of space near seating for luggage. They were always clean and again I felt really safe. The drivers were generally helpful and polite. I only had one cabbie offer to help me with my bags.
    Both hotels had free wifi, but both sucked and I was lucky to have purchased a simm card at Paddington station with 2 GB of data. I used 1.5 KB of data during my total time so was able to see that I need about 2 KB per week.
    In total I spent six days in London. Having access to the WiFi allowed me to move around easily and flexibly. Two of those e days included visiting Essex and Twickenham. It was a pain sorting out my Chinese visa but yet at the same time the challenge all added up to the adventure.
    Being conscious of weight, I off loaded a few clothes and put all the extra books in my back bag. At the airport I came in at 22 Kg and they let me through.
    London was fascinating. I loved the massive mix of cultures and languages. There were lots of free stuff to do and by riding the transport system you can get around many places easily.
    I sometimes tipped for services or if I was helped with my bag. London highlights included the day tour that visited Kensington Palace, Stonehenge, and Bath. I really wished I could have had extra time, as I was also keen on getting to Dover. I loved people watching, riding the transport systems and eating amazing Fish and Chips at the local pub.
    I was fortunate to meet a Finnish girt and her mother and we had an interesting discussion about her schooling. She was 12 years old and fluent in 3x languages. I watched them get online and access all the information they needed in Finnish so again, the children we teach must be digitally literate.  She helped her mum navigate the tourist information and the transport system in Finnish.
    It was good to have all my food served on normal plates and to eat with a real knife and fork. I felt safe wherever I went. Maybe next time, I would come back for a longer time and get out of London faster.