Teacher Professional Development Languages (TPDL)

‘Another language opens up a whole new window on the world. It might be small and difficult to see through at first, but it gives you a different perspective, and it might make you realise that your first window could do with a bit of polishing and even enlarging.’ 

(Hone Tuwhare, Die Deutsche Sprache und Ich, NZCTE, Goethe Institut, circa 1997)

tpdl

Newmarket School is committed to their Chinese students retaining their Chinese language skills and (as for all students) developing literacy skills in both Chinese and English, while also valuing the learning of Te Reo Maori.

Wendy Kofoed (Principal) and Virginia Kung (Deputy Principal) have attended Principals Delegations to China with the Confucius Institute previously, and this helped them to understand the contexts that new students from China are coming from. (Virginia herself is a heritage speaker of Cantonese and grew up in New Zealand.) The school has had school delegations from Singapore and is developing a sister-school relationship in Ningbo.

I  am a bi-lingual Samoan and English speaker and have early stage proficiency in Dutch, French, Maori and Japanese. I am a TESOL trained teacher and have led a Samoan Bilingual Team and taught Samoan. I have traveled to China twice in the past three years and this year I took up the challenge to learn Chinese and lead the teaching of Chinese at Newmarket School. Currently I am the ALLiS (Asian Language Learning in Schools programme) Lead Teacher. I am also a learning concierge for the Flat Connections Project, observing how students and teachers between Australia, China and New Zealand are communicating using Wechat, a mobile text and voice messaging communication service, as well as other online forms of communication.

Newmarket School has had Mandarin Language Assistants from the Confucius Institute for five years, and are aiming for continued sustainability with me having a lead role and giving support to the junior classroom teachers as they increasingly take over more of the teaching of Chinese. This year I not only had support from Parent Language Assistants but also community members who taught Mandarin in the middle and senior school. Chinese lessons are run after school and are coordinated by the parent community.

Recently I completed TPDL (Teacher Professional Development Languages), a Ministry-funded one year programme. The programme supports teachers by providing them with Language Study. When I stood up to receive my graduation certificate my principal and deputy principal rushed up with an ‘ula lole’ as an acknowledgment of their support. Now those of you in school know how important it is to have support in the work you do and I have certainly had that this year from Wendy and Virginia. 

support

As part of the TPDL programme I have been taking a weekly Mandarin class at Unitec Institute of Technology and passed HSK Level 1. I must mention here two amazing year 5 students who gave me 30 minutes of Mandarin practice each week. I listen to my colleagues in my Mandarin class speaking about how challenging it is to find people to practice with and I have had this extra luxury.screen-shot-2016-11-26-at-6-37-32-am

All students and teachers at our school have had  Chinese lessons this year. I teach in the Junior School and during my In-School Support Visits I was observed teaching a New Entrant class and working with their teacher and also teaching a combined large group with a total of 55 junior school students and three teachers. These students were be grouped to learn with me or with the other two teachers with whom we work cooperatively. Within the large group students were grouped into advanced/heritage speakers, a middle group and an emergent group. However with TPDL training this learning has shifted to more across grouping so that students can  also learn with and from each other. Students chant and sing together at the beginning and end of lessons and also break up to work in their groups. After each observation an In-School Support Facilitator discussed my lesson in order to support me in my language teaching. These In-School Support Visits took place each term and I found them valuable for reflection and identifying my next steps. Thank you to Andrea, Sarah, Reubina and the children of Te Ako Kowhai for allowing me to come into your class each week and work with your children. 

img_1294

I frequently teach through songs and chants.  I have aimed for the students to replace words in songs to change the meaning of the sentence. This year I presented several times in order to share my learning and to help with reflection.

First of all I presented at the NZALT (New Zealand Association of Language Teachers) conference in Nelson in July. Here is a link to my presentation. Then I presented at  the Chinese Language Teacher’s Conference. Next I presented to the Auckland Ningbo sister school principals conference. After that I was invited by Julie Lindsay to share on a Global Education Panel Discussion during the 12online conference.  Finally I shared my inquiry in front of my colleagues as part of the TPDL assignments inquiry to the TPDL.

The whole school has Chinese lessons and recently more and more responsibility now rests with class teachers as they take over teaching Mandarin in class. I have created a chinese blog and use it to highlight my lessons. While our teachers have great heart in teaching languages they have had some anxieties about teaching Mandarin as non-native speakers, they feel that this is specialist work. They are more competent and capable of ensuring students have cultural competencies in Mandarin. Myself? I can totally empathise with this and for this year have the TPDL team to thank for supporting me in my journey of knowing first hand what it is like to walk in my learners shoes by learning and teaching a new language.

I am beginning to utilise across school connections from lead teacher observations. For example I learnt a lot from Cornwall Park School and Meadowbank School by observing how their teachers teach Mandarin. 

Some of the highlights for me this year have been

Chinese Language Week link to photos and videos.

  • Confucius – sent in artists
  • Asia New Zealand (applied for and won funding)
  • Having Lily Lee share with us.

Hosting our sister school and when the Children returned to China we continued communication via wechat. Then I was asked to present at theNingbo-Auckland Education Association (NAEA) conference. This years conference theme was“Connecting Learners” and the aim was to further strengthen existing ties between sister schools in Ningbo, China and Auckland, New Zealand.

naea

Passing HSK level1.

hsk-results

Learning to use WeChat for making connections with external agencies and some of our parents.

Some of the unexpected spinoffs have been forming closer relationships with parents and children. 

Overall taking part in the TPDL programme has allowed me to reflect on myself as a learner and as a teacher. The year is nearly over and I am so looking forward to some quiet time. I have learnt a lot about myself and I have learnt a lot about the children and their families that I work with. Learning other languages enables our children to practice the key competencies of “relating to others” and “managing self” while developing a strong sense of their cultural identity.

Finally I must mention here our own Ministry of Education who fund this  in-service year-long professional development programme. The programme combines language study, second language acquisition pedagogy, and in-school support to enable effective language teaching. I believe that all teachers who teach children learning English should apply for TPDL. The papers can count towards the Graduate Diploma of TESSOL.  I really liked the course because it reminded me how hard the journey is for our learners and reminded me that language learning is all about Whanaungatanga. 

New Zealand Chinese Language Week

clcw

Newmarket School recently celebrated its first Chinese Language Week. In New Zealand Chinese is the fourth-largest ethnic speaking group. However at Newmarket School it is our largest group. Our school is nearly one third Chinese and we wanted to celebrate who we are.

As a school we promoted Chinese language and culture through a range of activities. Students were involved in several events such as calligraphy, traditional Chinese games, making and cooking dumplings, investigating and creating Chinese art, eating Mooncakes, and a celebration assembly. Our children also used WeChat to talk to a kindergarten and then our sister school in China.

We had a special day on Wednesday when children were invited to celebrate their own culture by wearing traditional dress. We asked for a gold coin donation to help with the publication of a student created book telling the story of Chang E. I am still working on this with our children.

Friday was a special day for us because the youngest members of our school led our assembly. The whole school had been learning songs and a dance that we incorporated into our assembly. Mandarin has been identified by our school community as being important. So much so that we offer after school classes in addition to the language being taught in all our classes.

We have undertaken this journey because our Ministry of Education research shows that Mandarin is an upcoming global language. I also know from experience that learning a second language contributes to literacy skills in our children’s first language. As a school we are part of the Asian Language Learning in Schools (ALLiS). Therefore I am a student of Mandarin and am teaching the language to our five and six year olds.

The week long events highlighted our Chinese students and chance for them to step up and be leaders. At the same time many of our senior school students stepped up too and led morning tea game activities and supported many of the in class art activities.

We were one of the lucky schools to receive funding from the Asia New Zealand Foundation to hold events. This funding was used to purchase art equipment and Chinese food ingredients for our children.

We also had Lily Lee as a guest speaker who shared her book Sons of the Soil and told us stories of her time at Newmarket School.  Confucius Institute Auckland supported us with a guest calligrapher and support team who shared his skills with us. In addition we were most fortunate to have parents who gave time to share their skills too.

For clearer photos, do visit our school’s facebook page.

Where to next?

This coming weekend I have been invited to share our story at the Oceania Chinese Language Conference. Here is a link to my slides.

Our junior classes will continue to flatten their walls of learning as we take part in the Flat Connections Project beginning in term 4. The project is called K-2 Building Bridges to Tomorrow. We will be working with schools from around the world as we connect, collaborate and share our learning together. One way of doing this is using WeChat and all our junior school teachers are signed up and on board.

Connections are the beginning of collaboration

nps nps2

Yesterday we had the most amazing experience with our children as part of our school wide focus on Chinese language and culture week. One of our parents set up a WeChat session with a kindergarten in Zhengzhou, Henan in China. She came, was part of the session and and helped to ensure that it was a success.We spent approximately 30 minutes with the children and teachers. The kindergarten is one her son attended before they came to New Zealand.

The experience was a little different to Skype in the classroom because our children are learning Mandarin. Therefore we did not do the usual ‘Guess where we are sessions.‘ I was really lucky to have a translator as this helped immensely with the experience.

The video quality was low from their end, but that is OK because I know that as educators we are problem solvers. They shared with us via WeChat what it looked like from their end and it was so exciting to see the faces of their children. The children were really excited as ours were too. They had hooked up a computer to a data projector and their teachers were balancing the computer and holding up the computer for our benefit so that we could see their children. The really exciting thing about using WeChat was that we did not fall off. I have had experiences using Skype with China where there is a lot of interruption but using WeChat seemed to eliminate this.

I used my iPhone to record or children and streamed this through apple TV so that they could see our children. My main technology was heaps of bluetac to connect the iPhone to the top of the television. Before the session Lili one of our parents and I had carried out a test run with our virtual guests. Then before the live session I flick on the video so that our children could see themselves on the television screen. This helped align our children for the camera in preparation for the session.

Our children practiced saying

大家好 dà jiā hǎo Hello everyone!
您好 ni hao Greetings
您好 ni hao lǎoshī Greetings teachers
再见 zài jiàn Good bye 

We went live and both classes greeted each other.

Then they sang us a song. We sand them a song in Chinese. They sang us 5x little Ducks in Chinese, we sang them a Maori song. Next their teacher suggested we sing a song together that we both knew. This was twinkle twinkle little star, so cute. After that I had our teachers introduce themselves in Mandarin. Finally we all said goodbye and thank you.

The point of all this you may ask?

The authentic use of a language. The chance to share our learning in Mandarin even though it is really basic. The opportunity to make connections with children in another country who are the same age as our little ones. To show our teachers that there are new ways of learning. So rather than using photos or videos of another country, culture and language, we can be doing so much more.

Where to next?

The learning I learnt from taking part in Flat Connections student projects is the importance of co construction. I was really excited when their teachers suggested singing a song together. This is something I know about early childhood teachers, they always think outside the box. My imagination is all fired up with the possibilities. I have suggested that our teachers explore Wechat so will do another big push again with this tool.

asianz

The rest of this week is about celebrating the culture and language of one third of our student population as part of the National Chinese Language Week.  We have so many activities and experiences organised.  I give a massive shout out to the Asia New Zealand foundation who approved our application for support. The extra amount enables us to help make this week memorable for our children.

Who’s voice is being silenced?

Who do we silence when we “collaborate” and “connect”?

Trust Pam Hook to ask this question.

I recently read a blog post where Pam commented and asked this question.

loudspeaker-clipart

Those of you who know me, connecting, collaborating, creating and sharing are my ongoing personal teacher inquiry. So much so that I have literally made an online name for myself with doing all this “connect” and “collaborate” online stuff..

Pam asked an interesting question and one that I am sure like me you had never really thought about or really cared about and you have been hell bent on gathering followers or creating virtual communities to have teachers work together because you realise how much of an impact this has on teachers learning.

But if we think about it, who are the teachers who are  being silenced by all this online learning ‘stuff.’  I remember in the early days of social media trying to convince teachers to ‘at least read emails’. or saying things like, ‘The information is on the server #DUH.’

And ‘Paper?? What’s that.  Give it to me digitally so I can have the option of repurposing what you have created.’

I know the internet is the main form of communication in this 21st Century and who does not have a cell phone? Correct? But it is still a valid question.

We are extremely lucky at my school because we have a strong school leader who has always been forward thinking in her approach. Such as giving the teachers the tools. So we all had an iPad 2 when they first came out and have since been updated and senior teachers were given an iphone with a school plan. She gave us all a chrome to play with because this was a tool we would be using with our children. We can even choose what kind of a TELA we want.

Yet I grew up in a 3rd world nation and I speak to other teachers who do not have the same access to technology or professional learning as what we have at Newmarket School.

I visited 13 countries in 11 weeks and spoke with teachers who many do not have the same opportunities and access that we have here in New Zealand. I visited many teachers whose classes do not have internet access.  For teachers in New Zealand I query their access because TELA has been available since 2003 and access to the internet really took off in 2004 when the first waves of schools were snupped. Name a new Zealand teacher who has not been part of an ICTPD contract in the past 10 years. Our Ministry of Education has poured millions of dollars into our digital learning.

So again whose voices are being silenced through connection and collaboration?

I am aware of the challenges that some outlying schools have to access. They do not yet have broadband and are still reliant on dial up. But I believe that if you want access bad enough somehow you can find a path. Even if you pay for access yourself. When I think back to schools that I have been at where I have had to pay for first of all for my own laptop and then my own lease or when when I was an early adopter of technology and bought dial up at phenomenal costs.

Online I notice that my twitter PLN are made up of mostly European educators. I find the Maori and Pasifika Educators appear to gravitate to Facebook. As for Asian educators I talk to them on WeChat. So I guess if I am looking for certain voices then as an educator I must move in the social media that has greater numbers.

When I have run online professional learning for educators I particularly target voices that are often very quiet. I am much more conscious of this then I have ever been because of my work with Pam.  Yes using digital communication can silence when we “collaborate” and “connect”.

The ones taking part in connecting and collaborating online can have their voices amplified like being the only ones holding a microphone at a face to face meeting. Yet what about our children who do not yet have access to home broadband because the extra cost is a luxury that is over and above feeding a family? That and even having a device to access communication with. Yes we still have those.

I also think about the work I do with my Samoan colleagues who insist on face to face meetings because, ‘This is the way we work best.’ I encourage digital communication but that is on ongoing journey I have always had. I also find that in the face to face meetings I am the voice being silent. I am used to having my voice amplified with media that sometimes I feel frustration in the noisy face to face meetings. I feel frustration at the speed of getting things done because I am so used to getting things done at super speed using online communication. I am the educator who amplifies our Samoan voices digitally and I do so willingly because I know some can be very quiet online.

My citizenship question to you is the same as Pam’s.

Who do you silence when you “collaborate” and “connect”?

Afterthought

I should have begun with this quote taken straight from Tahu’s Blog Post on Whānaungatanga.

Me hui kanohi ki te kanohi kia rongo i te mauri o te tangata!’ It is important to meet face to face, eye to eye, breath to breath to get a full understanding of the people we are working with.

Being heard and the right to influence others

‘Ko te reo te mauri o te mana Māori.

The language is the life force of the mana Māori.’ Sir James Henare, 1985.

matariki

Matariki signals the dawn of the Maori New Year and this year begins 20 June and ends on the 19th of July. Matariki is a time for reflection and where we are up to on our learning journey. Matariki is about whanaungatanga and the chance for our school community to come together to plan, collaborate and celebrate this important event. Matariki  is a time to retell stories and to revisit traditional games and crafts. Matariki is a time to set new goals and make new connections. Matariki is a time to focus on Te Reo and the upcoming Maori Language week that begins on the 29th of June.  I can tell Matariki is close in season when our school centenary tree loses its leaves. I see Tui making a regular appearance around school. They come for the black  whauwhaupaku berries and for the the ripe Puriri fruit. At our school the rainbow is a regular sight and we get the torrential rains just like when it rains in Samoa. Often the mornings are misty and our grounds become soggy so we have to look for alternative lunchtime activities for the children. Our school gardens are in the last stages of harvest and the gardening club plan for the next cycle of planting. The children are usually excited because it is also at this time that they prepare for our annual Matariki disco.

Sometimes events can suddenly happen to make you sit up and take notice.

Friday was no exception. We had an interesting day as a flow of speakers came through our school as part of early Matariki celebrations.

While the school was at assembly the first groups arrived and were greeted by our principal and deputy principal in a whakatau because our speakers and workshop presenters were immediate and extended family members of our school and local community.

Eilleen our deputy principal and of Te Rarawa descent organised the day as part of the Te Whanau Kotahitanga Maori enrichment programme and we were given a shared doc to choose activities that we could take some of our children to. Two relievers were brought in to tag teachers in and out of class so that they could take part and they could take some children from their class to attend the planned sessions.

During this same time our senior school had their Friday Discovery day where several children were part of the planned Masterchef cook off and today was their semifinals. At lunch time I had my usual Travelwise lunchtime group meeting where I had aimed to complete work for an upcoming global sharing celebration that my group are involved in as part of the ‘Week in the Life Project.’ We have worked towards this event for nearly two terms as part of preparation for an experience for learning student project I have planned to launch in terms 3 & 4.

The challenge I had is that several of my Travelwise children were involved in all three events. Sometimes events like this can throw all planning out the window. So after speaking with the children in the morning I readjusted on the day and worked with only one Travelwise student instead of my ten  to get a model up for the rest of my group.  Over the next week I will find time to support the others as they complete their part to share with our global audience via skype over the next few week.

As I worked with my usual English Language groups to complete work the computer system played up. I wanted to complete a piece of digital art with a few children but did not finish this. In between children I attended a few sections  of the Matariki activities. I attended three activities in the middle block. In the afternoon, I had agreed to share my journey about receiving my malu and missed seeing the other Matariki activities then too. I made sure that I finished a little earlier so that guests who had come to hear me would be back in time for the whaikōrero with Eilleen.

Our Maori students and teacher need acknowledgement of who they are and under the Treaty of Waitangi, they have the right to come together to celebrate their uniqueness with role models and senior members of their community. Friday was no exception because at our school we had a range of powerful role models join us for the day to mentor, guide and share their gifts with some of our students. On Friday our Maori teacher and students took charge of the day. They had their voices heard and had the opportunity to influence others.

So on reflection Matariki is about whanaungatanga and the chance for the whole school to come together to plan, collaborate and celebrate  this important event on the Maori calendar. We have focussed on whanaungatanga in the past with great success as can be seen shared on our school Matariki wiki. I also believe that an event like this allows us to reflect where we are up to on our commitment to the Treaty of Waitangi.

Other Links

To find out more about Matariki, visit our digital story on Issuu .

To find out about whanaungatanga visit our Matariki Wiki.

To find out about Maori enrichment at Newmarket School, visit Te Whanau Kotahitanga’s blog.

To read more about the Treaty of Waitangi visit ‘Waitangi Tribunal claim’, URL: http://www.nzhistory.net.nz/culture/maori-language-week/waitangi-tribunal-claim, (Ministry for Culture and Heritage), updated 8-Jul-2014