Friday, 8 December 2017

Overview of 2017 - mindblank reflection

So - it's been way too long. This year a lot of things have happened and now that it's the end of the year, my mind is finally catching up to me. To reflect on everything that happened this year would be a novel in and of itself. That's why we should reflect often. 
This year has had huge ups and huge lows. It's actually truly surprising that we've made it this far. Family issues, school issues, home issues. 

Reflecting is key. But this year I lost my way. When I look at my blog - I've only written 16 posts - this entire year.... In 2016, I wrote 80 posts. In 2015, I wrote 123. Back in 2014, I wrote 140 posts. 

I guess last year was a key indicator that I was losing my blogging/reflecting mojo and trying to deal with things internally - rather than reflecting, letting it out of my system and getting my thoughts out onto proverbial paper. 

This year - like I said, there has just been so much going on. All I can do is bulletpoint them. Maybe at some point I will reflect further. I hope so, because it can't carry on like this. 
  • My gran passed away
  • Four students passed away this year. Three I knew. One I had taught. 
  • Many disclosures from students - all referred on to the guidance team and heads of houses. It's still heavy. Weighing heavy. Because these things aren't just small things. Most of the students I referred have since got help. Some have not. 
  • Kemu - in all their awesomeness, all the planning and driving them around to different appointments, helping them set things up and get them confident in their knowledge for the next step, helping them engage with their community, helping to develop their ideas and creating new opportunities and introductions to people that might help them promote their product later in the future. Am so freaking proud of them and their journey thus far.
  • Social studies class - wow. There really are no words to describe just how proud I am of this class. The in-depth learning, discussions, engagement with the community and the council, developing plans to help our school be more mindful of next steps for energy efficiency, encouraging students to be more mindful of their impact on the world around them, developing new resources and finding my happy place teaching social studies, again. 
  • and... the not so awesomeness of possibilities for next year
  • The support from different colleagues and friends at school
  • The even small moments, seemingly insignificant from another's point of view. The hello's and the how are you's and the people checking in when I really was not coping, particularly when they didn't know what was going on. Thank you.
  • The stress and frustration of data crunching but the happy surprise when I looked at my y11 results. They did so well this year. My Y12s... not so much. But the majority of them have come back in or emailed their work in - finally. 
  • The students for being their awesome selves. Understanding and supportive. Making me laugh each day. 
  • My family for always being there for me. No matter what.
  • To my mates - for making me laugh in the darkest of times
  • Throughout all the stress, there was light. Remembering to take my own advice and look up.
  • My y10 English class. At times stressful and frustrating, other times interesting and hilarious. Lots of interesting learning and overall development of students confidence in the subject. 
  • The opportunities through PPTA and developing my own confidence as time went on as the BOP Regional Chair. 
  • Developing more awareness of self and what I need on a day to day basis - through my use of my bullet journal <3 li="">
  • Opportunities taken, missed, hoped for
  • New goals set for next year
  • Travel plans set for next year
  • New exciting things on the horizon
  • Hopeful and optimistic always. Trying to avoid becoming too cynical and burnt out.

Sunday, 22 October 2017

It is time to come out of the shadows

For much too long I've sat behind my screen, reading and learning and figuring out what needed to be said.

There has been so much going on for me in the past two years that it's taken a toll on overall everything I do.

I don't feel inspired. I don't feel myself. But then again, every day I'm trying to claw back what sense of self I do have.

Panic attacks, stress, possible burn out. It's been ever present.

There have been times this year when I've thought about giving up teaching. It's so so full on. The workload, the stress, the high stakes pressure for me and for the kids. The pain of every day working with teenagers going through inordinate amounts of stress, frustration and hurt. The pleasure of being able to laugh at myself and enjoy being myself in the company of my awesome students.

If it wasn't for my students this year, I honestly don't know whether I'd still be teaching.

This year we have had so much going on at school. So much going on in our country. So much going on in my own life and my family's life. It all just seemed too much at times.

Recently, I told two of my students off hand that I couldn't work with them all last period as I had my counselling appointment that I had to leave school early for. It turned out I didn't leave school as early as I thought I needed or at the time I was planning. But still. I told them.

And - there was no why. There was just pure acceptance.

My students got that I've been dealing with stuff.

I wonder whether they knew I'd been struggling to deal with it all for the past year or so. This past week was only my second session.

As someone who is always trying to model good mental health processes, like telling students to go the counsellor of needed or taking them to make an appointment or helping students through difficult situations - it's been an absolute blessing getting to this point of overwhelming need to see someone. Because I would have just kept struggling and trying to be all to everyone.

This need to be all encompassing is draining. I can't be Superwoman.

I can be me. And sometimes that means I am inspirational or supportive or caring. Other times I can just be there.

This past week showed me that I can take a step back. That I don't need to be so involved. That I can actually focus on what I need to focus on. I don't have to be so involved with everyone else's issues or trying to save everyone from destruction. Particularly if it comes to the point where I can't even save myself.

So. I am saving myself. Recognising that I need to take some time for myself. To recharge my batteries. To be me again.

I can't be the person I wanted to be when I first started teaching, if I burn out. I want to make real change in our schools. I can only do that if I do what's right for me.

Part of that is taking back my love for writing. I am going to try to get back into writing on here. At least once a week to start with.

My head has become a jungle of thoughts and I need to start releasing some of these out into the wild.

Miss you all so so much. Let's catch up soon.

- Alex

Thursday, 24 August 2017

Mind block ... gone?

For way too long this year I've had a mindblock. There have been a majority ... a plethora... a HUGE amount of reasons for this.

Finally... I'm pulling myself up and out of it.

The POWER of NOW!

So... to get back to where I was but maybe also not where I was but my next step further on from that....

I keep thinking about the quote from #LukeCage last night: "Sometimes backwards. Move Forwards. Always."

In a lot of things we do at kura I feel like we are moving backwards. Then we have a giant leap forwards. People get scared or revert back to old ways and then we go backwards again.

It's a lot like that quote that Pop's would say. Just need to keep pushing forward.

I talked to one of my students last night who talked about how much better she feels with her mental health and in particular her writing. Have been watching her progress this year and am happy to see her more happy in her own skin finally. But so good to see her writing passion come back.

It has taken me a long time too to pick this blog back up again. Not for lack of trying. I have a huge list of topics in my bullet journal. I just didn't know how to start writing again.

It's more or less about the need to be appreciated and letting stuff I've held onto for a long time, go.

After my mirimiri last week, I feel so much bettee but know I need to have it done again soon. Still little niggles in my back and it brought up so much stuff that I need to keep getting it sorted. Wairua, hinengaro and tinana. All connected.

I'm behind in my reo Māori class too which is frustrsting. I need to push on with this also.

I'm behind in my marking too. I am finally in a good place to get everything sorted. Sometimes backwards. Move Forwards. Always.

Ma te wa whanau ❤

The Power of Now - Reflections on Eckhart Tolle's Novel

Nau mai haere mai!

So... last weekend a colleague suggested I read a novel called 'The Power of Now' by Eckhart Tolle.

For the longest time, my thoughts have always been on the ... what next? Rather than acknowledging and enjoying the NOW. For me, the now was always just a step towards the next and I never really enjoyed each moment.

I'm taking a bit more time to appreciate things lately. The random side liner questions, making more time to check in on students, (just remembered that I didn't check in on one kid today who looked really uncomfortable sitting next to another student... but then seemed to lighten up once we did film analysis...must check in tomorrow), and the recognition of the small things people say or mention to me to help push me in the right direction.

I've always been a believer in predestination. Not something that has been chosen for us by a faceless being... but a path that we chose for ourselves. Here we have to make choices to find a way to achieve our goals and hopes and dreams.

I hope that I can continue to find this peace in my mind. Where my mind isn't cluttered up with all these thoughts. Where I can actually breathe calmly without worrying about the next thing.

What's most important though is ensuring that I remember the importance of now. That I can ultimately change my life by being aware of the moments in front of me. Being aware, understanding and taking positive action to create a better, more positive life.

No way near finished reading this book yet... but already it's making an impact.

Wednesday, 26 July 2017

Social Studies Discussions... Coal and Dinosaurs and Diamonds

Yesterday my social studies class and I were reading the second half of a one page - double sided info sheet about coal. It took me 40 minutes to read through what would have taken me 10 minutes to read out loud normally.

Lately, my social studies class have been asking more and more questions. It usually happens about this time of year too which is really cool.

Questions from yesterday:

* So are dinosaur bones just mashed up under the ground to create the oil then? (Pretty much. This was my final answer after a VERY long explanation of the extinction of the dinosaurs and sediment over the years and friction of the earth and compression...)

* So peat can catch on fire? (YES! The original question stemmed from me asking them if they knew what it was and then me sharing my story about nan and the peat stories she has about the drive to Hamilton looking at the farmer's fields and saying that they'd catch on fire and that houses sink or lower because of the peat then students asked whether that was what was happening out in NGO.... and then that lead to me saying it could be due to the proximity of the lake and the rivers and the moisture content in the soil which led to a student asking - what lake? 😓)

* How do we make diamonds from coal then? (An answer I'm not too sure about yet... but know it has something to do with carbon...)

* Miss, do you know about the protest that happened with  ......? (Those side liner questions that I somehow managed to bring back into the discussion to make him feel involved but also not get the others angry for the irrelevance AGAIN from this student...)

* Miss, we should have a different election candidate on different days... so we can have more time with them...

*Miss, why do we always have to highlight the important information? It takes too long... ( To which I replied: If you have enough information to get started, then go for it. Other students already have and some have even finished their assessment already..... Wish this student would take more initiative.)

And then... we finished the coal info sheet and began our assessment.... finally.

Saturday, 1 July 2017

Reset Button Needed

Today I read a blog post by my friend Shannon.

This past week has been difficult. A student passed away. That day was also the two week date since my Gran passed away.

It also was the week I unlocked my six years of teaching achievement :)

About this time of year is when I start remembering the bad stuff that always seems to happen at this time of year. This time of year was also when I first started teaching. I remembered my six week anniversary this time while driving the Kēmu YES business group to their next meeting. They were proud of me too. :)

Back to Shan's post though.

She mentioned the need to fight for your own passion. Mine, like hers (she's beyond inspirational and so incredibly awesome.... there's not enough words to truly ever convey just how much she meant to me as a uni student and now too as I see her resetting her sights on her dreams), is always writing. Writing for a purpose.

It's the thing that comes so naturally for me but in the last year or so there's been a block there. Maybe because I needed to get to this point to truly appreciate how easy it is for me to write and to make my writing actually have real meaning.

I've written a lot over the years. Diaries since I was five, blogs since I was 14 and this particular blog that was started six years ago when I began teaching. Recently I got into bullet journalling. My mind is currently racing behind the typing scenes as I try to figure out what next months spreads will look like.

I'm all about modelling behaviour when it comes to learning new things. Part of my modelling has been lost as my frustration has taken over. My inability to create real, lasting change. Without a management unit or the 'respect' given as a result of those time allowances... it's hard to truly help change things. I've drifted along this year. Just trying to reset things for myself, in my class, in my teaching life, at home and within myself.

With writing though, it's always there. Writing competitions help. So do sitting down or in my case right now, laying down and waiting for the electric blanket to heat up. Sometimes I can just make up pieces of writing as I speak in class. Those times I wish I'd record myself because they're quite cool pieces of writing and always leave my students quiet and in awe haha

Writing used to be my way of sharing my passion of teaching. My real passion though I guess is helping people. To learn, to grow and to achieve in all areas.

My learning recently has been to enjoy the moment. Be there. Aware. And help myself.  So I have been. Trying at least. It is difficult to stay positive always and ensure that my learning continues. Whichever direction I go I will end up wherever I'm meant to be.

I also need to stop comparing my amount of blog posts to previous years. Some years there will just be more to write about! Other times the learning I am doing will take precedence, as it has this year, causing my lack of writing as I process things.

Big passion still... youth centre with ability to uplift our kids and our community.

Also... change the world and build a network of people to work together to ultimately empower and lift positivity of all those on Earth.

Just want to find myself again this year. I lost my way a wee bit back there... and redefining who it is that I want and need to be.

For those interested in reading Shan's piece- click here

Sunday, 18 June 2017

For Gran

This past week, you took your last breaths. You said last goodbyes to those who visited you and asked for help from those who were meant to care for you.

You were the one person I could truly talk to. Open up to. Share my thoughts, feelings and ideas with. I can do this with my Nan too but it's just different.

I already am craving ginger refreshers and those marmite onion toasty thingys you'd make us. The lolly jar and the biscuits you'd keep for us when we came to see you.

The butterflies on the wall of your house. The photos that showed the years I missed out on and the years I was a part of.

The way you just seemed to understand how I felt and could give a simple explanation and wise words to help get me through the next struggle.

I said today that we better be having some awesome korero in my dreams from now on. ❤❤❤❤

All I could think of today was singing Whakaaria Mai and saying the words, 'presented with'... perhaps the last words you heard on your way to the hospital for the last time.

Gran... no more pain. No more hospital checks or stays. No more being stuck in a small space. You're free, finally. After all those struggles. You are truly a warrior Gran. You are an inspiration. You led by example, helping us along the way.

This week, we said our farewells. Played your favourite music. Remembered the best times with you. We shared our memories and I wonder what will happen next with us, without you.

But you're still with us. The smell of your White Diamond perfume and wearing your watch I'd bought you before your last surgery.

The memories, the love and guidance.

The way you could bring complete peace at a moment's notice. Somehow. How did you do that?

I still have a lot of questions. I guess I'll have to wait til later to discuss in more depth.

I hope you were proud of me when I did the first reading for you during your requiem mass. Your coffin was so pretty. Truly. The funeral directors made you look so pretty too.

It was so good being able to sit by you again. To sleep close and send our love to you. To watch everyone and enjoy being with them. To know that I have a place with them, even without you there to make me feel wanted.

I realised just before that I haven't been writing in this blog for a long time. I've had a mental block and possibly even a spiritual one where I've told myself certain things that aren't true.

I need to write more. I have more stories to share. I have more people to help. But like you probably know, I need to work on myself first.

With all the love and positivity I can send out in one small bubble of hope...

Love you Gran xxx