Wednesday, 14 November 2018


Although early days, I see so much potential. I cannot wait.

On Monday this week at the Ōpōtiki College planning day, we were working on a new unit and term plan. Two units really - a literacy bridging course and research project.


- loved that there was so much sharing and connecting with prior knowledge
- asking my new colleagues what they wanted to see in the dept and what they needed for resourcing
- connecting on issues with literacy with students
- the theme of identity for the y9s and the 'Coast by Nature' curriculum theme for the y10s and 9s maybe?
- we sat around the table in the dept and looked at the achievement objectives over all three areas 3-5 and I talked with them about how we'd identify which AO's to use once we'd fleshed out the content a bit more
- the collaboration and discussion of possible texts, organising the room
- listening and actioning their ideas, incorporating their experience with juniors and sharing my resources and experience too
- connecting with them all through the PLD with Julie Luxton and discussing the ways forward for our students with the PAT tests

Monday, 12 November 2018

Planning Day at Ōpōtiki College

Today was awesome.

I met a lot of passionate, excited and interested teachers today.

More to write.


Loads of PLD, planning and discussion on where to next.

Creation of literacy bridging course to ease transition to HS and also ensure the foundational skills are in place before carrying on with content and skills.

Stoked. I have some awesome kaiako in my department. Cannot wait to sink my teeth in more during the next planning day.

Ngā mihi koutou!

Sunday, 4 November 2018

The Last Senior Prizegiving at Heights

This Friday, we had our senior prizegiving ceremonies. They're always usually quite emotional.

But the photos with my colleagues and goodbye hugs with my seniors - that got me.

I had a box of tissues with me the entire time. I barely used them. Others did. I feel like I'll cry at some random point when it truly truly gets me.

The Y13 leavers function co-organised by one of my all time favourite students left a mark, that's for sure.

Speaking to the cohort and then wishing each of them luck as they walked across the stage, one last time. So. Many. Hugs. So. Many. Handshakes. ❤️

The thing about Heights kids is you always know they've got your back. Even when they're pissed at you. They'll stand up against anyone who even dreams of hurting you. Our Heights whanau is real and once part of it, you don't really leave.

But now that I'm on the other side of the senior prizegiving, my focus now shifts to making this last part of the year incredible for my juniors and trying to get every single other student across the line to get their literacy and every credit they can to achieve and endorse. Oh... And achieve their best in their exams too. Because there will be LOADs of catchup and refugee students hanging out with me in the library - like every year.

I just truly hope - that each and every one of my students - past and present - looks after themselves and gets the help they need, and that they learn to speak up ❤️

He aroha nui ki a koutou!!!

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 :)