Monday, 1 February 2016

Stop, Collaborate and Listen...

You may ask why am I starting this post with the lyrics from a one hit wonder created by Robert Matthew Van Winkle in 1990.  In response, I would mention that these three actions were a huge focus for last week as I came into school to prepare for the first week of term.

Trepidation is a word which I do not use enough, however, that was the emotion fuelling me for majority of the week.  The beginning of the week was spent engaging with my hub team as we prepared the learning spaces and began to work out schedules, numeracy and literacy groups and general housekeeping for the term.  I am fortunate to be working with four other experienced teachers in the hub and this has helped me feel more comfortable as a beginning teacher as they are extremely patient and helpful with all my questions so far.  Arranging the space is somewhat of a blank canvas at this stage as both it and us as teachers need to be reactive to the needs of the learners so there will be a large amount of observation this year.  These two days also gave me great insight into my team and how we work both as individuals and collectively - I am one of those type personalities who enjoys collaboration and the bringing together of different perspectives.

This is a great sedge way into the beginning of the "Teachers Only Days" which kicked off on Wednesday.  We were very fortunate to have Nicky Benson come and facilitate a workshop on building Resilience.  This is where the "stop" part of the title comes in as the main focus from the workshop was building the self awareness so we could focus on managing our own energy - finding those activities, be it physical, emotional, mental or spiritual and using these to refuel our tanks.  We also did some work with communication styles and how this can influence the way in which we interact with others and how to build this awareness into daily life.

The afternoon session moved into collaboration which bled over to Thursday with an Amazing Race event.  I found this a great way to bond and connect with people I have had yet to meet or interact with.  Our locations had us doing challenges around various Auckland landmarks before heading to Ngā Wai o Horotiu Marae where we were welcomed onto the marae and this was our base of operations for the remainder of the day.

We were again fortunate to have another presenter come and present to us - Ann Milne from Kia Aroha College in Otara - where she presented "Leading and Learning in White Spaces: Critical Pedagogy of Whānau", where she showed us the journey of her school and challenged us on our perspective of what does success "as Maori" look like.  I found this presentation very thought provoking and have a lot more that I want to unpack in this space.

After a bit of down time (the Amazing Race had challenged a few of us a bit too much), we were able to watch "Most Likely To Succeed".  The leadership team had chosen this documentary as a way for us to start to dig into one of the strategic goals of "What Learning Matters".  I personally recommend anyone who is working in the education field to watch this as it does make you think (it also made a few of us cry) about what does education really look like.  I particularly enjoyed it as it has given me the confidence to challenge some of the norms that I had perceived around teaching.  I have a feeling that reflecting through blogging will also help me start to articulate some of these challenges more and I look forward to this as I move forward.

After dinner, we practised some waiatas and it was great to see that all the staff members had held onto their energy as this was clear especially when there was a bit of competition on who could sing them better.  We have been challenged to sing at an upcoming assembly to show our community our talents.  Before retiring for the night, there was some reflection on what has challenged us over the last couple of days and I feel that as a whole, there is a real trust between the team as the reflections were very authentic.  It also allowed me to realise that I am fortunate to be part of a high performing team.

Friday morning arrived and after the comparisons of how much sleep you actually got or how many mosquitoes had feasted on you the previous night, we returned to school to finish the last of our professional learning where we got to analyse our graduate learner profiles to see if we are staying true to what really matters for our learners futures.  I do not think the leadership team intended for us to finish this, rather have it as an active challenge as we move into term one to really identify with how and what we are teaching and if it is staying true to the values of the school as well as the changing needs of our learners.

So how was I at the end of this week?  I was pretty tired - not physically (even with the lack of sleep of Thursday night), but more emotionally as some of the activities has challenged my current perception of how I will operate coming into the school year.

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