Wednesday 28 February 2024

#NCEArefresh - mini reflection

Mini reflection #NCEArefresh 

I've been pulling apart different articles, short stories and docos with my Y11s. For the majority of them - they're connecting with the ideas, learning how to identify the diff lang techniques quicker and becoming more confident when they get it wrong, to just try again. 

Am still having trouble with encouraging those who just don't want to engage ... But for now - I'm forging ahead with those majority who want to try. And it's pretty exciting. 

I've longed for this [actual teaching] for so long. Without the time constraints of assessment and management of the task etc - it's been really freeing to see our kids engage with texts, different levels of analysis and understanding.

#evolutionandimagination #burnoutcomeback

Sunday 14 August 2022

Reconnecting with my Why...

It's been a while, hey. 

Recently I was reminded about the power of WHY. 

Why I chose to become a teacher...

Why I continue to be a teacher...

And an ongoing thought - that I've lost my mojo. 

I simply don't enjoy being front and centre anymore. I feel like I'm putting on an act that has been so overdue to be cancelled that I don't know why it continues. 

Me. 

When I first started teaching - I was eager asf. I wanted to change the world. I thought I was. Every day. Every single class. Every tauira. 

Over time, I started to see the reality. That there are good days and bad days. More often than not - there are bad days that become bad seasons and then sometimes when there is a glimmer of hope ... And other times when that hope is so bright that it blocks out all of the possible dark clouds looming...

My love for teaching is still there... Dormant I guess. 

When people ask - I always say I love teaching. And I do. 

What other profession can you get so excited about, encourage others to grow and also scold in the same bloody second? 😂🤦‍♀️ 

I just miss the old me. The girl with the stars in her eyes. The one who never backed down from a challenge. The girl who looked into the face of her enemies and thought strategically how to best solve solutions. 

I feel like the fight in me has gone. Like I've just accepted that there isn't much at all I can do. That I actually have no power over myself or my own space. 

Someone asked me recently if I felt undermined or that I'd become disempowered. And totally. There's definitely those feelings there. 

But to give up, run off and restart? I just don't have the energy. 

And I don't think I have the energy to keep going either. 

This year is my eleventh year teaching. 

I remember when we talked about the fourth year being the hardest... To make it to five years in teaching - in this climate ... Was something short of extraordinary. 

I made it this far. 

Four pracs, two failed, two passed - both in which I understood how racism and power play was systemic in school systems and structures. 

Three schools. All with their own pros and cons. 

I feel like I'm at a cross roads. 

Like I don't know what the next step is. 

We're smackbang in the middle of Term 3. 

Three years in with our old pal Covid-19 and the ongoing effect it is having in our education of the next generation. 

It's hard. Every single day. Masks, mandates, vaccines, sanitising surfaces, stress about sneezes and coughs, ensuring safety and open windows in spite of the cold weather. 

It's a daily struggle. Day in, day out. 

Add in the turbulent mental health of both teachers and students, whanau and our community...

The ever decreasing levels of literacy...

The ever increasing expectations from the community and our BOT to make shifts and improve our data

The overwhelming pressure of never being able to catch up or succeed. 

The serious stress resounding every single corridor, corner and classroom. 

It's a surprise we even have teachers left in the field as it is. 

Having given up lots of my extra responsibilities over the last year and a bit ... NZATE, PPTA, De Luxe Theatre, etc etc etc.... I am trying to reconnect with me. What I want... Who I want to be. 

I once had aspirations of becoming a principal. 

But I've realised that even as a principal - you still wouldn't be able to elicit real change. 

It makes me so cynical.

What is it that I can actually achieve myself? 

Who have I even made a difference for in the end? 

I honestly just feel like I've lost my why. I've forgotten what it is that I want and where I want to go. 

I'm just going with the motions and hoping for the best at the moment. 

I never wanted to be this person. Sure, I wanted the success, the financial stability of having bought my first home, the honour and privilege of having tauira who listen and engage with me. But what does it all account for? 

What does it all really mean? Who am I really benefitting right now as a teacher?

My one saving grace at the moment is my Drama class. They're amazing. They remind me to have fun and get excited again about teaching. I'm excited to have more drama fun with my mate RS. She is freaking phenomenal and an absolute superstar. Hopefully we do get to do some tean teaching next year in the music, drama and acting space. 

I recently talked to someone about me being their constant reset button. That they only come to see me when they need to be redirected in their life. 

I've just realised that by me not writing my thoughts out for so long - I've left all these thoughts to crowd my creativity and stop myself from being my best self. Why did I stop writing? 

I got busy. 

Riley.

Crystel. 

Life. 

But writing is still and always will be my passion. 

Gardening has been helping recently too. I just need to keep going. 

And write more. 

Reconnect with my why. ♥️

Sunday 3 July 2022

Impact of the 1907 Tōhunga Suppression Act - Real-Life Example

Had an awesome korero with a young man today. What could have been an ongoing aggressive situation was resolved with calm, enjoyable korero and lots of te reo Māori. 

We shared our stories, he told me his whakapapa and his own journey. He shared his ups and downs and talked about the whanau past and present who tautoko him. He talked about wrong turns and although we didn't get to talk about future plans and aspirations - I'm hopeful that he gets help and can find that inner peace he's seeking. 

The korero today was a reminder of how important it is to address mental health issues and look for the underlying issues - rather than just medicate for the sake of medicating. Lots of our young people are gifted with the ability to see beyond the veil, and for many of them, like this young man - it's a constant struggle to navigate. 

With a stronger mental health system that has a dedicated support and education programme designed to understand Whare Tapa Wha and the holistic view of a person -- we might see more well people, less crime, less māmae and more positive outcomes ♥️

More active acknowledgement is needed of our taha wairua and understanding that there is an ongoing negative impact from the 1907 Tōhunga Suppression Act. If this young man had been given support in this area - his life could have been so different. 

Far... Just imagine if our tōhunga didn't have to hide our indigenous knowledge... and if they had been able to share that with us over the last five generations.... Where would be now?

Ka aroha bub. Ka manawanui. Ka tūmanako. Pai marire ♥️

Friday 25 February 2022

The Biggest Brainstorm You'll Ever Need Ever

Kia ora koutou! I had a brain wave at 3am the other morning and tested it out with two of my junior classes this week. 

Do any of your students struggle to use their imaginations and come up with original new ideas for their writing pieces? 

Try this! 

A two page spread in their books (defs could be done digitally too!). 

Title: The BIGGEST Brainstorm You'll Ever Need, Ever! 

They fold their pages in half lengthwise and then half again - creating four columns on each side of the spread. Eight columns in total. 

Column titles: Character Names, Personality Traits,  Settings/Places, Environments, Events, Problems/Resolutions, Objects, Themes/Issues. 

I gave the kids 5 mins for each section to populate their lists as much as they could. 

It became very competitive and of course, very collaborative too. And I may have cheated a few times by looking at movie posters in class for ideas and names 😂 and listening to the kid's ideas in their groups. 

Arohamai for my messy writing 😁


It looked different on the board (because some kids organised it like that rather than my actual instructions 😂🤦‍♀️). But essentially it's eight columns with heaps of pre-planned ideas for creative writing. 

The kids will choose a few ideas from each column before starting to flesh out those ideas further prior to writing. 

Let me know if you try it!

Thursday 9 December 2021

End of Year Reflections - 10th --> 11th Year Teaching

Ugh. Feeling thankful asf right now. Reflecting at the end of my 10th -->11th year of teaching. 

Thankful to my Massey High whanau for supporting me in my first couple years teaching and being the beautiful role models I needed in my life. 

Thankful to the Heights whanau for your support, love and light in EVERYTHING that went on for me in those six years. You guys got me and knew my passions and what I wanted out of life. You guys agitated and inspired me to grow and aspire to achieve new challenges and experience heaps of different opportunities. You saw the darkness and the light and helped me navigate ♥️ even if at times it was via brute force and telling me to go home instead of staying at kura for aaaaaages 😂

Thankful to the OC whanau ♥️ for understanding the complex family dynamics and supporting me through these last three years. For encouraging me to give myself love and support and for reminding me to take a moment for myself, rather than putting all my energy into everyone and everything else. 

To my English Dept - whuuu -- you wahine are AMAZEBALLS. Love you all so much. I'm always so excited with all the ideas and planning and discussion we have. 2022 is going to be an awesome year. 

To all the colleagues and kaiako mates from across the country and around the world - THANKYOU ♥️ your aroha and support mean everything. Ngā mihi e te whanau ♥️

Tuesday 26 January 2021

2021...

School tomorrow! First Teacher Only Day of the year. 

I am nervous, excited and worried. 

Nervous because I have my appointment with the psychiatrist tomorrow morning. 

Nervous because I'll be connecting with someone new and telling them my story. 

Nervous because what if I don't get the diagnosis I expect?

Excited because what If I DO get the diagnosis I expect?

Excited because I can see my colleagues again after a somewhat (never long enough!) holiday break. 

Excited because I can sit with my team and plan the year out more specifically. 

Excited because there are new people joining my team!

Worried about not completing tasks I'd aimed to do during the holiday break. 

Realistically - everything will work out as it should do tomorrow. I don't need to be worried. 

I spent the holiday break learning more about myself, grounding myself, removing and shifting trauma and restrictive memories/blocks from my psyche, building more confidence and self-love. 

Appreciating my journey, grateful to my younger self for being so resilient, thankful to those people who have been guiding me throughout my life and who continue to do so. 

Grateful that I have such incredible friends and whanau that support me - no matter what. 

Excited.... Because I think I'm right in my diagnosis.... 

But also -- what will it change? 

I will know a deeper layer to myself, give validation to my whanau who have the same symptoms and help lay a stronger pathway for myself to get more concrete (pun intended) coping strategies and techniques. 

Here's to 2021... Because anything has to be better than last year 🙌🏽💛 

Here's to 2021 -- the year I make my own dreams come true. 

Here's to 2021 -- where we see success, happiness and determination thrive in our community. 

Here's to 2021 -- positivity, acceptance and self-love 💛🙌🏽

Wednesday 11 November 2020

OC Literacy Intervention Programme

 Yesterday I witnessed one of the COOLEST things I've seen in the past 10+ years of teaching English. 

There I was in the classroom beside the wharenui, helping to prep my Y9 Tihi tauira for their English exam today. The girls had all organised their own study groups, each group working on a different text (Substitute Teacher, Affectionate Kidnappers or Kupe and the Giant Wheke). 

The boys sat in the class for the first few moments, got started on the mahi quickly, reading out loud. 

This is a new strategy for all five boys and they were cacophonous with their reading aloud - so much so that the girls were telling them to be quiet. 

The boys asked if they could head off to the wharenui - I agreed. Proud of them for making good choices. 

When I went back in to check on them, all I could hear and see were these boys in small groups, individually reading aloud to themselves or their mates. 

One of the boys came out and told me everything he understood about the story 'Kupe and the Giant Wheke' that he could think of. It was less a retelling and more a point by point overview of why it's important. This new ability to decode, comprehend the text and GET IT is new for this young man. I asked him a few questions, slowly getting deeper and deeper into the overall kaupapa of the Maori narrative. 

When the questions targeted certain sections he hadn't read (as it was double sided - whereas the first time we'd read it in class it was in the school journals) - he didn't give up. He said, "Oh, whaea I didn't know it was on the back. I only read the front sections. I'll go back and read the rest aye?"

MUSIC TO MY EARS. 

What he said next though was beautiful - "It's coz of Whaea Linda, whaea."

I gave him a double high five. Because, yes. Absolutely. 

Checking in on the rest of the students, hearing one of the girl's finished speeches from our research project, discussing sibilance with another pair of tauira learning about language techniques in Affectionate Kidnappers, laughing with another pair of tauira when they found the language technique videos I'd posted on Google Classroom ages ago. Seeing students dive deep into questioning and answering, studying the text in preparation for response to text. 

I then returned to check in on the boys. Sitting, quietly reading. They came and told me they were finished and were ready for the next text, they wanted a challenge they said. 

I gave them Affectionate Kidnappers. A favourite of mine by Witi Ihimaera. 

We'd studied all three of these texts earlier in the year. They remembered each one from my quick reminders before reading it again. They could remember the two kuia and the little girl they took to the beach. They could remember the relief teacher and how he got all the kids names wrong. They could remember the story of Kupe and the Giant Wheke. They asked me to re-read Mrs Button's sections because they think the old Pakeha lady voice I use for Mrs Button is funny. They even humoured me when I re-read the hoiho section in the voice I always use for the horses. 

Affectionate Kidnappers is being used by my Y12s and one of our Y13s this year. It's a text that can be looked at for surface level questions, right down into inference and applied questions where students link beyond the text. It's one of those classics that really hit home, connect with reality and our past. The type of story that sticks in your very bone marrow and you're reminded of each time you visit the beach, the marae and when you see a white picket fence gate. 

When the boys asked for this text I did not hesitate. I was stoked. 

I could feel the girls watching as I gave them this new text. Because the boys are accelerating. They're reading and they're ready for the next challenge. 

They may not YET be able to fully convey their thoughts on paper without ongoing support - but that's where I come in. I can help with that. 

The reading, the understanding of text, the growth of vocabulary? That's where this literacy intervention programme comes in. Absolutely phenomenal. 

I had the privilege last term to sit in on one of the first sessions with the tauira. I was sitting in my library office, sewing a hole to repair one of the beanbags. I heard giggling, high level questioning skills, curiosity, excitement, engagement and above all, enjoyment. They were playing a game of Heads Up, a guessing game. To win you have to ask questions that help determine what character, object or location you are. To elicit growth in vocab, you must use high interest tools where the students speak and develop their vocab through grasping it, moulding it on their tongues and then having the confidence to speak and question. 

The programme is working. 

These five boys have confidence in their reading. They're using a range of skills to elicit responses, comprehension and understanding. They're engaging with the text in a way they were not able to do earlier this year. 

I didn't tear up until this morning when I gave this feedback and my sincere thanks to Whaea Linda. 

This beautiful confidence in these boys with their reading is truly astronomical. They're able to engage with the curriculum! They're able to discuss key points in the story. They're able to use new vocab and build on their understanding. They've been given time to learn these key skills. TIME to LEARN. What a beautiful concept. 

The fact that they've been able to learn this quickly - quite literally in the last few weeks of term 3 and the last month of term 4 - is phenomenal. Imagine what they could do had they been given this support from the beginning of the year? Or if they were given this support for a full year? It could transcend their understanding, comprehension, growth and depth of vocabulary and ensure our students have the CONFIDENCE to READ. 

Why did I tear up?

Because I was so proud of these boys. Because I realised how much effort and time Whaea Linda and Whaea Nicky have put in with this group of tauira. Because I can't fit in this depth of intervention strategies in my normal programme of learning to move tauira up the curriculum. Because I can now teach these boys at the curriculum level they're meant to be at. How beautiful is that? They can read, comprehend and understand key concepts, issues and ideas in texts. They use the vocab from the text they've read. They think outside the box and are able to fully engage with the text in ways they were not able to do so before. 

It comes down to time. Not just for our bilingual tauira too. For all our tauira at kura. 

Imagine if this programme could be rolled out across Year 9 and 10? If we could catch the students BEFORE they fell through the literacy gaps that then prevent them from accessing the senior curriculum. If we could have all students at their curriculum level or above, reading fluently, feeling successful. If we MAKE TIME for our tauira - not just in our curriculum classes but across the timetable - to accelerate and then extend our tauira -- how much more confidence and success would this then breed into our kids? Our community even?

Better literacy intervention strategies now mean better literate communities in the long term. A community that READS. A community that are critical thinkers. A community that fully understands and communicate their wants, needs and aspirations. A community with excited rangatahi, ready to do incredible things in the world to one day return and share their skills with us. 

Literacy now is not just about the students in front of us succeeding. It's about breaking glass ceilings and encouraging our sttudents to do more than they've ever thought possible. 

Nga mihi maioha ki a Whaea Nicky raua ko Whaea Linda. Kei te tino poho kereru ki a korua. Nga mihi mo to whakamanawa matou tauira, me nga whakaako, me nga rautaki hoki. Nga mihi nunui ki a korua ano.