Thursday, 25 May 2017

Whitewashing...

This reading absolutely broke me this morning. Check it out.

Nicole Brown: 'I'm sorry I white-washed your world: A letter to my daughter'.

Living with Dyscalculia

OMG. Dyscalculia. This. Awesome video.

If you've ever driven with me you'll know a few things: I can't figure out lefts and rights, I have trouble with depth perception so I either drive really far away from the person in front of me (therefore holding everyone else up behind me) or stay on the tail of the person in front and I have trouble understanding maps - where North is on the map or where I am in relation to a map.

Dyscalculia has seriously made me think I'm dumb for a massive portion of my life. My 4th form maths teacher told me I'd never achieve anything in life because I couldn't do maths. I have always had trouble remembering timestables and 'basic' math stuff. I can't tell the time properly on an analogue clock and forced myself to learn what I do know now. In fact - I only really figured it out when I began learning te reo Māori because it was in a different language and it made sense somehow. As a result I am nearly always late because I never know how long it will take for me to do something. Because... maths. I just can't... no matter how hard I try.

Dyscalculia is a learning disability. It is seriously misunderstood. It is similar to Dyslexia in the sense that Dyscalculia means you can't figure out numbers.

Anyway -- here's the link:

Living with Dyscalculia

Tuesday, 23 May 2017

Social Studies: Relevant, Purposeful Learning

Today we had a truly relevant, realistic, just-in-time learning experience with a student who had been on FB during our lesson and told us that there had been an attack on concert goers at Ariana Grande's concert in Manchester.

We stopped what we were doing, searched it class, discussed the issue and possible impact this might have on the experience of refugees if they are blamed.

This student then said, "I can't believe that happened 30 minutes ago Miss. Right when we were learning about sustainability."

Moe mai ra to those who were killed today, and every day. Thank you for opening the eyes of my students and encouraging them to fight harder as activists.

Thursday, 18 May 2017

A reflection on refurbishment and liberation

Late last term our new classroom was ready to be moved into.

After the efforts we had last year in E9 painting it and making it look better... only to find out it was going to be refurbished in the holidays... it was incredibly amazing to move into this new classroom - E7.

Now my initial thoughts were that this class would still have lots of sad and potentially negative vibes in it - due to the previous inhabitant who had over time lost her passion for teaching, was unwell and has recently left the profession after decades of dedication and undying love and care for her students.

With the refurbishment, this vibe just wasn't there anymore. The class itself had been made noa after the refurb and it was ready and welcomed us in. We have had incredible lessons so far, even yesterday with the couple of incidents in Y11, and the students appreciate our new space so so much.

This particular post is based on how liberated I feel with not having or needing a teacher's desk.

It's 5am. I should be asleep but I'm still thinking about how lovely and transformative the simple act of not asking for a teachers desk has been.

The caretakers asked a couple times if I needed one - but nope. I'm quite happy without it. Here's why:

* Our new class has heaps of storage in the backroom and in the shelves behind the whiteboards and the cupboards below the whiteboards. There is no need for everything to be piled up on my desk anymore as everything has a place. Students know where to collect things from and freely do so now. They have become a lot more independant in this way.

* Every single moment of the day, I'm interacting with my students. I'm asking them questions and digging deeper into their understanding and perspectives. I sit with each student or group, based on how the class is arranged.

* I'm not tied to a desk and so I'm able to move about the class and am forced to because there is no place that I can sit idly. When I did have a desk, it would become my source of power and control. I would sit there and bark orders or students would come to me. Albeit, if it's been a strenuous day or I'm lacking energy, I do still choose a table to sit at in class, still with a group of students and do some marking or have students come to me and ask questions. Now that I'm not tied to one place, it makes the source of good teaching - me again. I am not the desk. I am me.

- For now, that's what I can think of. I'm sure there's more but now it's 5.30 am and I'm getting tired again finally. Thoughts spilled back onto the blog. Hopefully everyone is doing well.

Will upload pics of the refurb :)

Monday, 3 April 2017

It's been a while...

Arohamai whanau.

It's been a long while since my blog post.

Since then, I've started again on my reo Māori journey at Te Wānanga o Aotearoa studying Te Aupikitanga ki te reo Kairangi - a Level 6 Diploma in te reo Māori.

Since then, I've dealt with several issues from students and have been working on finding positive and achievable solutions with them.

Since then, I've been working on focussing on the students in my class and not over exerting myself. This seems to look like I'm not participating much of giving of myself... but truly, I am just redirecting my energies into being the best classroom teacher possible. Perhaps after today's ICT sessions with my colleagues I might get back on that particular waka.

Since then, I have bought a himalayan salt lamp and it has done absolute wonders for my sleeping and breathing clean air at home. Next - to buy one for school.

Since my last blog post, we've moved into our new classroom! All done up, refurbished and looking incredibly beautiful. Weird way to describe a classroom but it truly is. And what's more we are all really appreciating the environment we now have. Despite one student with his inappropriate use of a wire and the multiplug... and another student dropping chewing gum into the new carpet today as well as a broken pen... which with the help of an icepack and sanitiser gel... we managed to get both out as much as possible.

Since then, I've taken our Heights Pasifika roopu to our community festival and begun to make plans to build up Heights Pasifika at our kura.

Since that blog post... I've stepped into the role as Bay of Plenty Regional Chairperson for PPTA.

Since that blog post, I've redirected my social life into Young and Local - a group of truly positive and supportive young people here in Rotorua.

Since that post, my grandmother (Dad's mum) had a second amputation and even with all her morbid humour, I still can't quite say with jest that she is now legless. She is doing well. No news is good news at least.

Since that last blog post, I have been warrior, mum, aunty, sister, student, friend and support person to a lot of people. It can be quite draining.

I must remember to focus on what is most important, self-care, my health and prioritising my students learning over the learning of my colleagues. Who... at the end of the day have begun to seek me out now that I've stopped offering my help so much.

Mia and Zo are doing well too :)

Friday, 17 February 2017

A Week on from All in Day

A week on and I can't say much just yet. But what I will say is thank god our kids are well practiced in our safety procedures.

I've written a post elsewhere that I will share once everything has calmed down a bit more.

Just so glad our kids are okay.

Wednesday, 8 February 2017

The Importantce of Whakawhanaungātanga

Did this really cool thing today in Y11 English. This was the last of my classes to meet... and I was slightly nervous about this particular class. All bar 3 in dark blue senior shirts. Surprising how much of an attitude change in our Heights kids already!! :) Anyway - got them to write 'Whakawhanaungātanga' in the backs of their books.

We broke the phrase down into more manageable parts. Underlined whanau. Circled Ngā. Whanau = family. Whanaungā = relations. Whanaungātanga = the way we do things with relations/whanau, what is acceptable/tika. Whakawhanaungātanga = to build and create relationships.

When I heard bits of muttering I very quietly, but calmly said, "If you feel uncomfortable learning te reo Māori in an English class, just be patient, you'll see why in a minute."

I talked about the importance of whakawhanaungātanga, particularly at y11. Because not only do we have to learn to understand ourselves, but enable ourselves to relate to others, inside the classroom and outside too.

Then students shared some things about themselves with their peers in the groups they were sitting in. I got them all to stand up in a massive circle and share their name and two things about themselves with the whole class. They all did. Some quicker than others. Nearly every kid in that class mentioned their pets. Way cool. I shared some stuff too and then got them all to sit again.

From there, they began the traditional intro letter I'd had all my other English classes do.

Beginning from full whakawhanaungātanga just felt so much more right. Beautiful.