Can I see you, teacher?

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Listen teacher, listen to me. Don’t look away.
See my eyes they hold messages that make you understand me.

Are you a 21st century teacher? Are you a future focussed educator using effective pedagogy? Do you teach in a modern learning environment and use digital tools? Are you conscious of digital citizenship? Are you an active member of a virtual community and use social media to make connections and broadcast? Do you foster digital collaboration with your elearners?

What?…..  #halt! Let’s flip that learning? We must be connected educators because we relate with all of the above… Right?

So what is a Connected Educator? Let me carry out a personal inquiry.

October has been branded “Connected Educator Month”. I was determined to unpack this coined phrase. I have found dropping the term ‘connected’ a challenge, considering this has been my inquiry for 2014. I relied on connecting for this EdbookNZ project. I crowdsourced for this collaborative project using social media and invited educators to give up their precious time and to help me write a  book that would debunk several current educational terms being bandied around. I envisaged we might make a difference to education by disrupting some of the current thinking taking place. Well goodness me my learning community responded.

Initially I wrote a blog post to clarify my understanding and help me unpack the term ‘Connected Educator’ in readiness for sharing my learning with colleagues at ULearn14 with my principal Dr Wendy Kofoed. So if you are looking for a definition of Connected Educator then go to this link and read a carefully thought out definition there. Access the ULearn video and watch the discussion or rewind our Ulearn slides to demonstrate your connectedness.

Connections can take many forms. I had a lightbulb moment when my SOLO Taxonomy mentor said, “Sometimes educator blogs read like a description and very few take their reflection to an analytical level.”
Sometimes I need a prod to help me with my thinking and that was the prod I needed. The focus for this ‘disruptive article’ is ‘Educator’. My personal inquiry has centred around connected educators at my school and my own understanding of educator has been clarified by using the term ‘connected’ educator. I now realise that this educator does not need the term connected in front. This educator does not need a digital badge to say I am a connected educator because first and foremost I am a teacher therefore I am an educator and  I am a learner too. I have my teaching certificate to prove this. Each year I carry out an inquiry to show I am learning. Each year I work with another cohort of teachers and students who challenge my thinking and I, hopefully, challenge theirs. Each year I create and leave a legacy for other learners as is encouraged by the New Zealand Teachers Council. Therefore a badge is handy for this process of evidence based learning.

Considering all this learning as inquiry that has taken place, should I have focussed on the educator as a learner? A large part of my own learning results from online collaboration. The online learning environment continues to shape my thinking and the connections I make shape my learning. For my reworked contribution to #EdBookNZ as part of Connected Educator Month,  my topic is ‘Educator’ – I have stripped away the term connected as I believe it is not needed to describe being a teacher because to educate requires connection. It is a prerequisite. Without connecting with our learners, can we educate effectively? Without connections, can we collaborate effectively? Without collaboration can we share as effectively?

I believe connectedness is one of three concepts relevant to being an educator.
At any New Zealand school, being connected requires the learner to develop a secure sense of their own identity and agency to think and work towards where their potential might lie.

At my school our three values are whanaungatanga, manaakitanga, kaitiakitanga.
I use these concepts and their definition to frame my current thinking around Educators.

In Aotearoa New Zealand an educator understands the Maori concept of whanaungatanga which focuses on building relationships with each other, the community and our children. Therefore an educator knows how to use the managed online learning tools to find people and knows how to connect with them. They think carefully about the dynamics of interactions. They use social media such as Facebook, Twitter, Skype, Google+, LinkedIn, and other tools to make connections and to build their own personal learning community. They actively seek other New Zealand educators to connect and build learning relationships with.

In Aotearoa New Zealand an educator understands the concept of Manaakitanga or Generosity of Spirit. This is about developing the ability to walk in others’ shoes which includes seeing issues from others’ perspectives and thinking carefully about the dynamics of interactions. It is about cultural awareness. An educator 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. An educator uses online tools to crowdsource to share ideas and to call for help in creating resources for their learners and for other educators. Generally they are participants in learning communities and take part in twitter chats such as #edchatnz to connect nationally and globally with other New Zealand educators. They comprehend the concept of an educational bubble and actively seek virtual chats to connect them with educators globally because they understand that sometimes the New Zealand bubble is just that, a bubble.  They use a wiki, blog and or google sites as a sandbox to test their learning and show what has been learnt. They attend online New Zealand webinar such as the Virtual Learning Network monthly sessions. They participate in national online projects- such as Connected Educator Month or even better, they contribute to online projects. Even much better they take part in or create their own global collaborative project that includes their students, keeping citizenship at the heart of what takes place.  They curate their own learning using Pond and make connections with other New Zealand educators to share what has been found and learnt. 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, a face to face discussion or via a different media. Personal learning is transparent, visible and accessible by all.

In Aotearoa New Zealand an educator understands the concept of Kaitiakitanga or Guardianship for Sustainability of our world. They understand the notion of stewardship by ensuring sensitivity and thoughtfulness of actions in environments both local and distant. An educator knows how to build their community of practice so that it has active participants like guest speakers or blog authors and where everyone constructs knowledge collaboratively. They identify the voices that are silent and actively seek them out to ensure that all voices are heard. They know how to reflect on what they have learnt and make this available for all via a blog, Google Doc, wiki and or a site. They have identified video as the new text and have taken personal responsibility to learn how to craft their learning using video. An educator uses several communication tools to find people and connect with them. An educator knows how to access the learning needed to improve their own teaching. They know how to empower each other and the children that they teach to build their own learning environment. They take pride in leaving a legacy for other educators.

An educator is visible online and can be identified by the work that they do with the children that they teach and with other educators through the legacy that they collaboratively create. The educator’s attitude, knowledge and skills change as they learn. The change in their thinking can be mapped. They continuously gather and analyse data of what they are doing for quality improvement.

Most importantly an educator is a professional learner who creates, contributes and converses. They know how to empower each other and their students to build their own networks to learn from and use the tools and resources that are available. They have the mindset to learn from each other, with each other, from and with the children that they teach and from and with the families/whanau of their children.

So, if I assess my outcome using the levels of SOLO Taxonomy; have I clarified my thinking around what a connected educator is, elaborated on and justified my definition, prodded you to rethink the connected educator label? Have I disrupted your thinking? Have I created a new way of defining connected educator?

Where to next, can an educator, without access to technology, still be a connected educator? Can they not still connect with those around them? Can they not still connect with learners, family, community?

Do give me feedback because quality improvement drives my learning.

For this post I thank Bridget Casse @BridgetCasse for being my disruptive friend and value her time and prodding. You can check out her blog here. http://bridgetcasse.blogspot.co.nz/
References

About Connected Educator. (2014, September 1). Retrieved October 30, 2014, from http://connectededucator.org.nz/about/

Appraisal of Teachers Phase Two: What is Evidence? (2014, January 1). Retrieved October 30, 2014, from http://www.teacherscouncil.govt.nz/content/appraisal-teachers-phase-two-what-evidence

Hook, P. (2014, October 21). Take away the descriptors – Artichoke. Retrieved October 30, 2014, from http://artichoke.typepad.com/artichoke/2014/10/take-away-the-descriptors.html

Hook, P. (n.d.). SOLO Taxonomy. Retrieved October 30, 2014, from http://pamhook.com/solo-taxonomy/

Hyde, A. (2014, October 2). (Modern) Learning Environments. Retrieved October 30, 2014, from http://likeahoginmud.blogspot.co.nz/2014/10/modern-learning-environments.html

Kemp, C. (2014, October 30). Taking away the descriptor – Collaboration. Retrieved October 30, 2014, from http://mrkempnz.com/2014/10/taking-away-the-descriptor-collaboration.html

Kern, M. (2014, October 21). Are we Digital Citizens, or rather Citizens in an increasingly Digital World? Retrieved October 30, 2014, from http://thebelbird.blogspot.co.nz/2014/10/are-we-digital-citizens-or-rather.html

Kofoed, W. (2014, October 18). E-ducators, it’s about a learner mind-set. Retrieved October 30, 2014, from http://drwendykofoed.com/2014/10/e-ducators-its-about-a-learner-mind-set

Melhuish Spencer, K. (2014, October 28). The death of the digital community? Retrieved October 30, 2014, from http://karenmelhuishspencer.com/2014/10/28/the-death-of-the-digital-community/

N Antipas, P. (2014, October 17). Redundant Adjectives. Retrieved October 30, 2014, from http://eodysseyblog.wordpress.com/2014/10/17/redundant-adjectives/

Paki, T. (2014, October 22). Whanaungatanga Collaborative E-Book Connected Educator Month 2014. Retrieved October 30, 2014, from http://teaomataurangatokutirohangaake.blogspot.co.nz/2014/10/whanaungatanga-collaborative-e-book.html

Prashnig, B. (2008). Pg 12. In The power of diversity: New ways of learning and teaching through learning styles (3rd ed.). London: Continuum.

Wells, R. (2014, October 18). An End to “21st Century” Learning Tools. Retrieved October 30, 2014, from http://ipad4schools.org/2014/10/18/an-end-to-21st-century-learning-tools/

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.



    TeachMeetNZ Interface

    Titled: Where Teachers Meet
    TMNZ.png
    (Educators involved in TeachMeetNZ in 2013)
    This post is an update of that article.


    In 2013, I launched TeachMeetNZ as part of my TeachNZ Sabbatical. A TeachMeet is an organised but informal meeting (in the style of an unconference) for teachers to share good practice, practical innovations and personal insights in teaching with technology. TeachMeet originated with three Scottish educators – Ewan McIntosh, David Noble and John Johnston. Currently all over the world there are hundreds of TeachMeets that take place regularly in a variety of venues. As Ewan Macintosh commented, TeachMeet was never about technology 100%, it was about the Teach first of all, and the tech was instrumental to achieving what we wanted to achieve pedagogically and never the other way around.” Ewan Macintosh.
    This article will describe how I developed TeachMeetNZ, the process of the on-line organised collaboration using Google Hangout, the relevance to teaching and conclude with future development for TeachMeetNZ.


    TeachMeetNZ
    I developed TeachMeetNZ after two years of research, investigation, then the trialling of a variety of online products, with Google Hangout being selected as the preferred platform.  
    A small team of willing educators agreed to join with me to learn how to use Google Hangout as a way of presenting, demonstrating good practise, sharing and celebrating teaching with technology. Each term, a group of inspirational New Zealand educators develop and deliver a series of presentations. These sessions are live streamed, and are attended virtually by educators from around New Zealand and globaIly. In addition a TeachMeetNZ wiki was  developed for participants to communicate and share their presentations with a virtual audience.


    Collaboration and participation
    TeachMeetNZ is about New Zealand teachers connecting online. They collaborate and problem solve using online tools. These educators support and mentor each other before and during the practise Google Hangout sessions. To take part, teachers prepare 12 slides that auto cue every 15 seconds so their presentation is three minutes long. The slides are hosted on Google Presentation or Slideshare and must be live before the session. We learnt that the most viewed YouTube clips are just under three minutes long so this is the preferred length. A three minute video is created of their presentation and may become a resource for use at a later time.
    After the live event, discussion usually follows via twitter using the hashtag #TeachMeetNZ. Many teachers go on to blog a reflection of their session, and they can embed the YouTube clip into their blog.  A TeachMeetNZ presenters badge is awarded to those educators who present on TeachMeetNZ..  Participants and viewers willingly give feedback and regularly give their time to support and help others.


    Relevance to teaching
    Online spaces are useful for portfolio development and fostering interaction and collaboration. Google Hangout is a tool that can be used to collate and present resources, to support community interaction and contributions, and as a platform for personal expression. Google Hangout is an ideal tool for teachers combined with a YouTube account.


    From creating and hosting TeachMeetNZ sessions I have learnt that teachers appreciate recognition and acknowledgement for what they do. Hosting TeachmeetNZ has pushed my knowledge of making connections with ideas and with people. Hosting the sessions has encouraged me to give better feedback to teachers who take part. The sessions have allowed me to be more focussed on my feedback with teachers and not to rush this important process. After each session I play the clip back and reflect on how I can carry out the task better next time. I make notes and begin with these notes at the next session. I have also learnt to go through the presentations before the live streaming so that I can better prepare my questions. I do this by asking for presentations to be live before the session and I usually run practise sessions for people new to using Google Hangout.


    Where to next?
    In the future I plan to host more discussion sessions with panels of educators. Last year I had an educator host a specialist session based on PE and this year I have planned to include similar sessions.  In addition I have planned to have single themed discussions and to have educators and practitioners who can contribute to themes at a deeper level. Some of the feedback that I have had from participants is that they enjoy the opportunity to ask questions and discuss ideas in greater depth. A session, that I hosted at the Festival of Education in Auckland, featured a group of inspirational educators who shared and discussed their passions both online and with a live audience.


    The TeachMeetNZ site has grown rapidly and I have now become the site’s curator. Currently the site contains nearly thirty nano presentations. This number increases each term as teachers share and celebrate their learning on TeachMeetNZ. Global visitors and viewers can watch the presentations in their own time and place.


    For my own learning.
    The SOLO Taxonomy practitioner in me realises that my current sessions take me back to being multistructural in my thinking.  In order to achieve depth in what I do online I need to continue to take a leadership role in other online communities. As frightening as this sounds I think that my first goal is to move from participating and running TeachMeetNZ sessions in online communities to being involved at administration level with online global projects. I would also like to continue with mentoring and developing others to host sessions. The popularity of the digital badge concept may also mean that I further develop this system for levels of participation.  


    If you have been a presenter or have watched a session on TeachMeetNZ, please add your comments below.


    For further information
    Visit the wiki
    #TeachMeetNZ on twitter


    Teacher from Newmarket School
    Auckland New Zealand

    30 years ago

    St Joseph’s School Papanui 1984

    St Joseph’s School Papanui 1984

    Class of Standard 1 & 2 – Thanks to Brendan who had the photo.

    I set up a Google Doc and through my teacher Facebook page, a few past students had added me. I asked for some memories and some wrote about events I had forgotten so thanks to my children from 30 years ago who helped with some my highlights.

    In December of 1983 I graduated from Christchurch Teachers College and won a position as a first year teacher in St Josephs of Papanui for 1984. The school was a state integrated school that was a full primary school. We had four nuns teaching still at that time.  I had a class of 32 standard 1 & 2 children.


    I was not a permanent staff member so I spent that year applying for a permanent position. 18 months later I finally won one at a different school after 45 rejection slips.

    The first day the children arrived I felt really grown up and the feeling of having 32 faces looking up at you awaiting instructions was unbelievable.


    Each morning I would send the children running around the block for fitness. As in I would send them out the gate and around the block, unsupervised. At that time, the school was boarded by large paddocks on one side.


    The first time I attended full school mass with my class  I bribed the children to sit quietly at church with mini moro bars. The principal said they were the best behaved class in the school and what amazing skills I had as a young teacher. Later on I attended their first Holy Communion and cried with pride. I had such huge emotion.


    Each Friday a class would organise school assemblies and how stressed I was when it was our turn but my class always made me proud. In those days we had three terms. The school left me until the final week so I could watch and learn how the other classes did assembly.


    When a child was sick, I would think, I hope they are ok. If they were sick for four or more days I would go after school on Friday and visit them at home. I learnt about home school communication from that. The parents used to be overawed by the teacher visiting at home.


    Even at that time I was a bit of a geek and can remember the excitement when our priest bought a video player. Once a fortnight, I would send someone over to borrow the machine and we would watch movies from the video shop or the children bought the videos in from home. Later on I discovered that the National Library had children’s’ videos too so I borrowed those as well as the celluloid films. I was technical even then and had my film projector’s license.


    Each fortnight I would walk the children down and visit our local library because ours was so awful. Then once a month during my beginning teacher release I would take four children in my car to visit the National Library  and choose a class set of books. I went by myself and was unsupervised.

    At that time I knew all the parents by first name because I had the children come and tell me their parent’s name. I kept a handwritten class list. There were no databases at that time only small white cards that were stored in the principal’s office. We needed permission to access the children’s’ personal data. I kept an assessment book, and laboriously cut away the name section so that I would reuse the following pages without having to rewrite the whole class list. Soon after they printed assessment books and you just needed to write in the names. I was first in to buy them out of my own money. The positive was I could keep all the receipts and claim part of the money back on tax as part of work expenses.


    As a training teacher I made all my own maths games and was proud of the hand coloured snakes and ladders, chess boards and other games created and then covered with contact. For cardboard I gathered empty cereal boxes by distributing house points for these valuable items. We did not have a laminator. The children also bought in bottle tops and small stones for counting.The children also bought in empty icecream containers. I was really lucky because one mum had access to the local pub and bought me heaps of beer bottle tops. Another worked in an old peoples home and would bring me the giant margarine containers. They were fabulous for storage. This was before Payless Plastic or the Warehouse days. Instead of stickers I had a set of self inking stamps. They were the most expensive teaching tools that I bought. I hung curtain wire across my room and hung the children’s work from that. For reading group boxes the children bought in empty wine casks and I covered these with coloured contact. They were really valuable and worth many house points.


    I had a giant homework chart on the wall and laboriously hand ruled the lines. I would stamp the children’s notebook each day and mark it on the chart. The children were eager for the weekly prizes that they were hardly away sick. One parent said how much that meant to them because I had a big class. That one stamp told them that I was paying daily attention to their child.


    I began the class with 32 children but lost some as the inspector was looming because  I was supposed to have 25. My year was also the year that they began beginning teacher release. Basically the teacher came in and worked alongside me during reading. This was when she did turn up and was not taken elsewhere as a reliever.


    I had one Maori student. Before he had me, he had a reputation with the teachers. He was a good student for me. I think it was because I am Samoan and we made a connection. I  took a real interest in him. I remember several Saturdays driving out to Loburn to watch him compete in motocross competitions. His dad told me it was the first time a teacher had ever taken an interest in him. He would tell me all about his bike and when he was racing. He was fabulous at reading because before my year he spent many hours in the principal’s office. He learnt to read her notes upside down.


    I had another student who led the haka and was amazing at creating story books. She would write pages and pages of stories and illustrate them beautifully.  I was often invited to barbecues with her parents and grandparents. Her grandmother made bottled asparagus. They lived not far from me. This same student reminded me of the time I cut the top of my finger with the guillotine. I remember the principal coming back with me to look for the top and packing it in ice for the journey to the hospital. I was really lucky as it was only flesh that was cut. The top eventually grew back after a long time. Nowadays there is no way a guillotine would be allowed in our classrooms.


    Another student lived on the outskirts of the city and I visited his house. It was surrounded by farmland and remembered a huge place with lots of bedrooms. I think this was after I had left school. Christchurch in that time still had a lot of farmland surrounding the city.


    In each class you always have the diligent and conscientious students. I had one who made contact with me years later. He was the first student to do so.  He said I had made such an impression on him. He is now a chemist. I felt so proud. I love teaching science and I can remember magnifying glass activities but I don’t think I taught much science in that early time.


    I had another child who always drew in black. I learnt later that there was a reason for that. We never know what our children bring to school.


    One student’s mum used to clean my classroom.  She would help me in my room while mum was working. There was no after school care in those days.


    Another student was really quiet but an amazing singing voice. She was diabetic and needed to prick her finger daily. I had to learn to deal with that and was totally unprepared . I was careful about bringing treats to school. I always bought fruit for her.


    One student remembers story time on cushions and making three dimensional pictures with regard to the believing in yourself series of books, I remember reading to the children everyday and stopping the story when it was extra exciting like half way through a chapter. In those days it was the Roald Dahl and Beverly Cleary series.  Another student remembers me reading ‘ The Silver Sword’ and how much of an impression it made on him.  I remember trying so hard not to cry as I read that story.


    Another student reminded me about awarding Bic Pen with rubbers on the end. The children had to pass a handwriting test to get from pencil to pen. I vaguely remember the pens. They were the first pens with erasers and were expensive on a teacher’s budget. The children had beautiful handwriting in those days. It was part of the curriculum.


    This same student remembers the certificates I gave out such as a super BEE haviour award and a Seal of approval there was a bee and seal on the certificates.


    One incident involved the boys being given the strap by the principal and I stood by and watched corporal punishment being administered.  Corporal punishment was not outlawed until 1989. I would have been horrified but felt helpless.


    My first three way discussion involved one child who bit another child in anger. I learnt later that this was not the first incident but that was before we recorded behaviour.


    Some crazy incidents happened like a child getting lice and popping them in her maths book. I had to send her home because live lice meant it needed dealing with immediately. Now we just send a note to every child in the class about an outbreak.

    I had another student suddenly throwing up all over her desk and having to clean it up myself. Now we would go to another space and the caretaker would deal with the mess.


    At the end of the year I was given the most amazing homemade gifts such as jam, or fruit or homemade biscuits, chocolates. In those days everything seemed homemade. Now when I am given gifts it is usually a voucher or bought chocolates. Even now I still feel strange when parents and children buy me gifts as I think there is no need because I already have been gifted the child for the year. (But I still say thank you 🙂


    The building was old and the block of classes  had a wooden verandah running alongside them. The desks were the old wooden lift up jobs with wooden chairs. The walls were high as in really high. I bought plants to lift the depressive atmosphere and blue paint. To brighten the walls, I dyed rolls of wallpaper and hung those up. I bought a staple gun to help with the job and there was no display boards. So it was staples straight into wood. I bought a piece of carpet for sitting on because I wanted a shared mat space. My class had the desks grouped but many of the other classes still had the rows and the mat space was only for the littlies.


    I had goldfish and when they died as they regularly did, I would bring in more from a local pond. The first time the  inspector visited he asked the children how long the fish had been there. The inspector would come and check my work once a term. At the end of the year I remember the feeling of elation. I had finally passed and was a real teacher. I no longer had to worry about having my planning checked over. That did not last long as at my next school, our principal checked our planning every term.


    As much as possible I would take the children out for softball and games on the playing fields. I allowed bullrush which involved a lot of school jerseys being pulled. This game was outlawed later in the school.


    Each Friday after lunch I would take my class down to buddy classes with another young teacher. Her name was Jacinta and this activity allowed me to learn how  to play the guitar by playing with her.  She taught me how to transpose and how to play the guitar by ear.


    I was heavily involved in church activities so this was another way of getting to know my parents. In addition I was the staff representative on the parent teacher association.


    1984 was the one of the first years for beginning teacher release, but I often did not get it as my release teacher was used elsewhere. I had her for one hour a day spread out over the week. Eventually I was paid back a week all at once because I became very ill.


    As a beginning teacher I  coached a school softball team and coordinated their inter school games. Transportation was taken care of by asking the children whose parent could take a car load down to the game. Again I had no supervision and this was all before the time of Rams reports.

    I also took junior school choir. The school went up to intermediate level. The following year I took whole school choir.


    I formed very close friendships with teachers from the junior area. I do not remember having a team leader but did have a mentor teacher. I probably learnt more from the young teachers around me and in our way we would share resources. I cannot remember team meetings but do remember staff meetings filled with smoke as most teachers smoked.


    One nun would gather a $1.00 from us each week and go down to the TAB to place a bet on the horses. By the end of the year we had won enough money to go out for dinner. I look back now and think $40.00 over a year would have bought a decent meal.


    We had to pay morning tea money each term and took rosters to be the one who took the cash and go to the supermarket to buy all the biscuits.


    Planning was more like a weekly timetable. Except for reading when we would list the stories read. Reporting to families happened twice a year and these were hand-written on school ordered commercial reports. I created a lined copy to help me write my own class ones neatly. No errors were allowed and any sign of correcting fluid would ensure a complete report rewrite.

    I think it was only in reading that the children were grouped. I was one of the few teachers who carried out running records in the middle school. Maths and writing was taught whole class. Grouping in maths was just beginning. My children learnt their basic facts and spelling words every night.


    The term overviews were my long term plan. I think I was the only one who created a term’s overview in the middle school. The other teachers said that it was because I was still such a young teacher. As for team planning, that did not happen until four years later. Remember all this was written down in a specially ruled way and placed into a planning folder. Later they published special teachers books for this very task. I remember using unlined paper backed by ruled like paper as a guide. Unfortunately I have only recently thrown all that old paper out. I would have been good to bring out and do a comparison for today.


    Other memories include using the brand new school photocopier. We had a limited number of pages we could photocopy. I wrote out all my song charts and poetry charts by hand. I used an overhead projector to hand make all my big books. I had to mix my paints and dye. I was allowed a limited supply of crayons. I was allowed limited supplies of art paper.  Most work was done on the chalkboard so I was always covered in chalk dust. To make pretty titles I would soak the chalk overnight in water. Once they had dried I used these ‘special’ chalk to make titles and borders.

    I did not have a computer until 4 years later when we won one. Everything I made, I made by hand.


    I have all my class photos. But this class was my first. They helped shape me and helped build my confidence. I remember when I had to correct a child’s behaviour I would be in tears. I loved teaching in St Josephs and loved the Catholic system. Most of my time of thirty years has been in a state integrated school. It has only been the last 7 years that I moved across to the state system.


    Over time I have noticed a decline in children’s handwriting skills, scissor cutting skills, and independence. I have noticed an increase in empathy and creative thinking. But that might be because we have a different focus in education. I could also be reminiscing on what it was like back then.


    So what about you? Have you been teaching as long as me or even longer. What memories can you share about your first class? What were you doing 30 years ago? Were you even born? If this is your first year, then write about it because later on it does get hazy.

    TOD at Mindlab

    On Friday 7th of February and a day after Waitangi Day, we had a teacher only day with a science focus. We visited Mindlab and spent the afternoon with @chrisclanz. The three hands on activities that were shared with us included making rockets, creating auras with Aurasma and adapting code to make our car robots work.  I added some photos here from my picasa drive. Chris highlighted the need to to Engage, Plan, Discuss and Reflect when teaching science.
    When we used Aurasma, we all had our teacher iPads and were provided with WIFI access to download, create a short video and upload to our accounts. Many teachers eagerly discussed their next steps with Aurasma. I was able to solve an ongoing problem of matching an aura with an underlay.

    Having our Science leader @BelindaHitchman sharing her passion for science was priceless. 

    Probably the highlight for me was making connections with teachers that I work with in an engaging and fun way. Yes I also learnt more about teaching science.  Chris showed us Scratch and Makeymakey as well as the 3D Printer. I was in geek heaven. I would have loved to have some more hands on coding opportunities with these technological learning tools. 
    I was excited to see a few of our Newmarket School teachers experimenting with twitter by sharing and adding their tweets of the events. I created a timeline using tweetdeck but am having trouble embedding the code in blogger. 
    How confident are you at teaching science? Have you visited Mindlab recently? What are your thoughts on hands on professional development for staff? How are your staff using twitter?

    The Magic of 11.

    Late last year, I was tagged in a blogging meme by my online friend and TeachMeetINL mentor @arjana. She was one educator I did not get to meet face to face on my trip because between us we could not align our stars. But Arjana next time it will happen. Either you come to me or I come to you. I also liked the way she gave me feedback via twitter on my blogging meme.


    I have been procrastinating writing and have been doing everything else to avoid updating my reflections. Her tweet was the jumpstart I required.

    So I completed the set task and it took me three days to craft as I was away with a mini ipad to write with. I created a draft using notes and played with the idea in between swimming, sleeping and snorkelling.

    As soon as I returned to my chrome, I added links and finalised my first post for 2014.

    But I still cannot figure why because I posted the entry on our New Years day yet it states that the post happened on New Year’s eve.


    11 has been a re-ocurring number for me in 2013 so I laughed at the unusual number. I had spent 11 weeks on a TeachNZ sabbatical and when I trawled a collaborative initiative that was part of my sabbatical output for last year, I identified 11 bloggers who had reflected on their contribution to the TeachMeetNZ project. I did not find it easy nominating virtual friends as who do I chose because I already read so many interesting blogs. For my part, I deviated from Arjana and focussed on New Zealand educators only and from that chose the ones who had reflected on TeachMeetNZ. I have been following the hashtag #bloggingmeme with interest and was excited to read @helenoftroy01 contribution by creating a Blogging Meme Doc to track the blog entries and to avoid a double up or more of being tagged. My initial chart using inspiration pales in comparison.


    Those of you who read this and are New Zealand educators, what Helen has also done nicely for me is identify some of you who I will be shoulder tapping for our next TeachMeetNZ virtual session. So be ready. You will end up with a digital badge for your portfolio and a cut 3 minute video to embed on your site.


    The Blogging Meme Doc has also been a motivation for me to comment on blogs that  people have written. In some ways I do feel responsible for setting the beast loose on the New Zealand tweachers. I am one of those lurkers who have been reading but not commenting as much as I could be.


    If you are tagged in twitter, I would like to read about you and may I suggest being like @MFaaeaSemeatu and used her Blogging Meme as a motivation to encourage new bloggers to get started. I also liked the way Manu used google+ so combined two social medias to spread her meme. She tagged her nominated bloggers via google+ and also via twitter.


    Anne spread her #magic and responded so fast with her Blogging Meme post like within the same day. From my other nominated bloggers I  have 4 who have completed the task after a few days and I will be honest and say ‘Great job’ as it took me all week from when I was tagged.

    I have watched @1MvdS in her patient, gentle, persuasive way gently coaxing her Blogging Meme group into writing by giving regular updates on who had completed the task and come on the rest of you.

    I enjoyed reading @MsBeenz entry and learning a little more about her and have @Allanahk remind us that this is not the first round that we have had something like this happen.

    So no great pressure @hanna_fale @SwanwickC @digitallearnin @phpnz @EmmaWinder25 @emmerw @nzteachnology @hunch_box . We are supposed to be on holiday. I like the way some of you have literally disappeared from twitter but I know it will not be for long.

    Anyone else reading this, if you want me to come and read your post and practice giving a comment, do tag me.

    Where to next:
    I stumbed on this via @FabMomBlog twitter and have made 31 my new challenge number. Don’t worry I will not be tagging anyone to join me but it you want to do let me know. In March 2014 my goal is to write daily. Like Manu, I will tag you to come and give me feedback.

    My learning from all this: the 4x C’s
    As my SOLOtaxonomy mentors @arti_choke and @ginnynz01  regularly remind me, reflect on the process and don’t just celebrate the product.
    • Stop procrastinating and just get on with the task. I have made better connections with New Zealand educators because part of the meme asks for 11 facts about you.
    • Something as simple as this can generate collaboration like the Blogging Meme doc.
    • We can use other social media in the task and not just twitter to celebrate the product.
    • What meme could I create to encourage blogging?  What ideas do you have?

    How to embed a tweet? Thanks to @SchuKnight who willingly shared this little gem.


    How to change the date on blogger to reflect current time? Thanks to @annekenn for this other little gem.