Monday, 15 October 2018

Mahi Haerenga... Next steps...

And today... I handed in my resignation letter.

And gave my decision to my new principal, that I waa accepting the new position.


Wednesday, 10 October 2018

Interview Prep

Over the past few years, I've felt out of sorts at school and at home. I've dealt with this in varying ways: pushing myself fully into my job, overcommitting myself with extra curricular and professional development, overexerting myself to learn as much as I can for the benefit of myself, staff and students. Ultimately this has meant that I burnt out.

I'm not exactly sure of the pinpointed moment when I burnt out - but I know that I came to a very boiling simmer with only dregs of water left in the bottom of the pan. Luckily, and not so luckily either - I dealt with a few horrendously awful things throughout 2017 which had dramatic impact on my overall hauora this year. As a result I had to reassess what was important to me.

I backed out of certain extracurricular activities that were causing unnecessary pain and hurt. I cut people out of my life that were spreading unkindness and making myself feel awful 24/7. I remembered that I have great relationships with my friends, family, colleagues and students. I reminded myself to stay focussed on achievable tasks each day and became committed to doing what I could in my own classroom.

Much of these things I did this year - including taking time out to travel overseas - came from pieces of advice spread over the past 6-10 years while I was processing everything. The problem of course - the burning out.

It took me a long time to recognise I needed to do more self-care and focus on what I can do / could do - to exact change and positivity in my own life and that of my students. Mainly because I wasn't in the space where I recognised I needed to look after myself. Sometimes, you just can't see the trees in the forest. You know?

And so - this past year has been a year of realisation and healing. What things have held me back have on the most part been let go and I have been able to move forward.

Part of this is the recognition that I'm not making any headway at school. I've tried every which way to help in the long run. But I get shot down. Maybe I'm too rebellious or I just think too deeply to create and find solutions to problems. Whatever it is, I've been boxed in with little pathway forward.

I love our Heights kids. Will do forever.
But my conversation with my niece last month truly put everything into perspective.
She wanted me to move to Ōpōtiki. Because it's closer. Because we are so damn similar and she needs someone who gets her. 

Because her mum (my sister) refuses to drive her to Rotorua (because she has anxiety while driving long distances).

A few weeks ago when I was told my house was going up on the market, I was a little distraught but also happy. New opportunity, new time, new door.

I pushed on the door - sent my application in. I knocked once more and said I'd like to apply for a few of the other positions.

The door opened, welcomed me in and set up an informal meetup with the deputy principal and current English Curriculum advisor.

That meetup went really well. Really well.

The door by this stage was cracked open - I could see a little bit inside and was intrigured.
I was told about my upcoming formal interview (tomorrow morning) and at the school ball, I told my principal.

So here I am... Laying on the double mattress in my sister's lounge, with her dog Halo at my feet.

I've written down the pros and the cons. I've thought about the positives and negatives about leaving Heights and working / living in Ōpōtiki. I've thought about the potential damage it could do to my relationship with my sisters and iramutu. But there is also significant positive outcomes too.

Tomorrow - I go into the interview, positive and overall, just myself. I have a few questions and a few concerns - namely housing and texts for the Coast by Nature programme. I've written a basic integrated plan for literacy with texts etc.
I'm looking forward to the interview anyway - it's been a while since the interview at RSHS. I've learnt a lot since then. In fact, it's probably a good idea to read the blog post after that interview and call.

Whatever happens, happens. The door is open - I guess now it's up to me to do my best, nail the interview and then figure out what I want to do from there.

Thanks for following me on this journey thus far. Much love ❤️

Sunday, 30 September 2018

Intergenerational Mamae

Mamae - Hurt, pain

Intergenerational - successive, over generations

Pointing out punctuation issues led to a really in-depth conversation and learning with one of my students on Friday.

There were many issues with punctuation in her writing, as there has been all year. Her writing has gotten stronger and her analysis skills too. I've been so proud of her development this year.

Friday was just a culmination of too much going on, punctuation issues and I picked at the unsaid feeling I could see on her face.

We talked about how punctuation is hard, particularly when your first language is te reo Māori because when there is punctuation - the point is in the rerenga (sentences) itself, not the punctuation. It's an added bonus.

We talked about the difference in the two languages - how te reo Māori is an oral language and how English is a written language, where punctuation is used to emphasise verbal communication and intonation.

It wasn't enough though. I could see her face. She was on the brink of tears, and I asked her quietly, "Bub, is this making you feel dumb right now?" She nodded, tears welling over. Yes - it was and I'd picked at the sore, gave her a huge hug as we laughed together at the silliness of how punctuation can make us feel this way. Another student brought over the tissues - always in short supply in our classroom - so many stressed out kids and a teacher who reads body language too well.

So I began the korero with her - connecting her pain right now to the intergenerational mamae and helped her understand that it wasn't just her hurting right now. That it's been passed down over many many generations.

We talked about her nanny's generation and back and back. The legislation that caused an entire series of generations to lose reo Māori and to be forced to learn English by way of being caned and given the strap. And then forward from the mamae and towards mine and her mum's generation - with the revitalisation of reo Māori. And then forward to hers - where she stands so strongly i te ao Māori that I'm now needing and happily encouraging her to find equal footing in both worlds to be able to engage the korero with mana and understanding.

Because by understanding the intergenerational mamae - we can understand why we still are hurting today in the here and now.

We talked about how her whanau love her and how proud they are of her. How she stands on the shoulders of giants. How she is working hard every day to break free from the struggles of managing her anger and how she is creating better strategies all the time.

At the end of the day, bub - I said - it's just punctuation. Your writing is beautiful. It's gettinf better all the time.

She said - I can explain it well i te Reo Māori - and I said that's algud - I'd love her to do that - but I also want her to feel comfortable sharing her korero i te ao Pākehā too. I told her I can show her a few tricks with punctuation - because it's a small issue - changing writing style is way harder.

She left that period - hopefully feeling a little better.

Last period, she came back and we worked on her punctuation skills. I showed her a few tricks on Google Docs on my computer, gave her my seat and she did all the editing on her own with my help of course - going from the written piece of editing needed and the sentence by sentence editing needed on her doc.

The ctrl + F function and the replace all mode - helped her see just how many fullstops didn't have a space beside them - and then how quick it was to add a space and then have it magically fixed. The same thing done with the commas and indented commas.

A tiny fix - she felt more confident and learnt new skills. But overall - she chose to work through the mamae instead of letting it sit on her chest. So freaking proud of her. ❤️

It's the small moments like these that truly remind me why I teach. If only every kid was as willing to do self-work. Without our whanaungatanga over the past couple years - we wouldn't have been able to get her there. I'm just so proud of her - honestly.

First person in the class to complete all six internals. 😍 You achieve every day bub. Proud of you.

Thursday, 6 September 2018

Year Nine Blogging

For years I've wanted to blog with my students as it's one of my favourite activities to do. As you well know, I've been writing for a LONG time here on this blog. Writing ever since I was at five. I told one of my Year 9's the other day that I was going to bring my diaries in. I still need to do that just to prove how long I've been writing and why I love writing.

So - my year nine class. They have trouble with their spelling and completing their work. Pretty much like ALL of my students EVER in existence. But these kids are powerfully positive and try hard when they know that they have high expectations. And boy do they know I have high expectations.

The process so far:

* What is blogging? - In this series of lessons we looked at what blogs were and what made a good blog. The kids that game have more of an understanding of what blogs are. Proud of you Tyrese!
* Setup of blogs
* Free writing - topics in the free writing section was focussed on whakawhanaungatanga and general introduction posts.
* Planned writing
* Free writing
* Trusting students to work on their own
* Testing students trust and checking their work
* Keeping students accountable - needed to get them to write a minimum of two posts each day or each couple of days. Some students are writing LONG posts and some people are not writing much.

At this point, I think the main thing I need to do is getting them writing planned pieces and encouraging them to write about things that they're interested in.

More to come later :)

Saturday, 12 May 2018

Y12 - Pop Culture and Social Issues

This year my students and I have been delving deeply into the issues of racism and segregation.

We've been studying 'The Hypnotist' by Lawrence Anholt and will be studying 'Selma' as well later this term.

Our upcoming assessment is close viewing. Usually I do Party in the Car with Y12 and we analyse driving ads.

At the moment I'm thinking that using Childish Gambino's 'This is America' would be a much stronger use of close viewing material as there is so much in there to pull apart. Also, it fits in with our overall thematic focus.

Plus, we could use this for our Info Lit assessment too. Win win!

If you've yet to check out the video - please do so!

Here is a link to FBE's College React video.

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