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

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.


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.