Thursday, 24 April 2014

Things They Don't Teach at Teachers College: Extra-Curricular Involvement

When I say I'm keen. I mean it. I don't back down and I try my hardest to make it work.What I'm referring to of course is extra-curricular involvement.

I adore doing extra curricular activities with my students, mainly because I'm learning who they are on an entirely different level, be it sporting, cultural, musically, intellectually... And from their point of view I assume they see a teacher (me) who is just as crazy out of school as in class... if they're lucky enough to have me. They are able to break down barriers and see me as a person, not merely a teacher who has the power to tell them off. I've been told I'm intimidating and scary the first time they've met me...though that's only until I smile and welcome them into my class I'm sure. haha

But this extra time commitment outside of teaching hours definitely takes it's toll.

In my first year of teaching - disregarding the end 2 terms of 2011 - I took on a hell of a lot of extra-curricular activities. At first it was simply a singing group 'Epic Voices', and then came the request for someone to help out with the Cook Island Group for Polyfest, and of course the many hours on Saturdays and Sundays and sometimes after schools developing my relationships with the parents of the students I taught and who were in my form class by going to their sports games when I could. But the biggest commitment I took on easily had to be the EOTC week at the end of the year when I (with the help of two other experienced teachers and a fellow newbie) organised a surfing trip to Whangamata for just under 13 Year Ten students.

I learnt ... ALOT.

Mainly I learnt not to let myself get too caught up in my students' lives... and also to maintain safe boundaries while still controlling and upkeeping professional working relationships with my students and their families.

I did lots of great things. But looking back I could have done better... in fact I probably shouldn't have done much of it. Heoi ano, I am a determined and headstrong woman as my Dad would put it... and as such I did it anyway... regardless of people telling me to slow down.

Last year at my new school... I took it a bit easier. Well I tried.

The first day a teacher, now a good friend and colleague of mine, came up and said, "I heard that you've taken a Polynesian group for dancing before!" Of course I was elated that my new school had a group because I was already missing the Poly kids from my old school. So of course I said I'd help. A good thing too because practises go for the second part of Term One - through the Holidays and then two weeks into Term 2 and it's the competition. Over and done with relatively quickly. Though of course lots of time and energy goes into it. But the roopu continuously amazes me. As they did today. Soooo much more fluid. Absolutely tino ataahua.

I waited a while to suss out the possibility of creating another 'Epic Voices' group. And same as my previous school there seemed to be a need. Went through the appropriate channels or so I thought - particularly compared to how I went about it at the old school.. and had a committed, yet small group of girls last year singing their hearts out.

A call went out at staff briefing for any teachers wanting to manage a netball team. My hand went up.

And that's where it stopped. I think. Last year is a bit of a blur still.

This year - there's a bit of difference. I'm aware of the time and energy I'm putting into things. I'm more aware of people telling me I'm yet again taking on too much. But I'm also aware of my new mentor 'P' telling me that it's a good thing I'm so involved. He agrees with me with my reasoning for getting so involved. I have no children, only a dog and a cat. I have time and energy to expend. I'm still building a group of friends here and I enjoy being busy. It gives me a sense of fulfillment.

Now that's not to say that I'm not already busy... because I am. Very. Five classes this year - less time to plan and create resources. But I'm getting clever-er? at finding the time to do things. For example seeking PD on twitter instead of reading chunky books etc... see previous post! And creating resources from ideas from last year that I didn't get round to doing and using old resources from past units that work well. Blocking out time to plan during non-contact periods, as well as blocking out full periods for time out... because with Duty and Epic Voices, and PI practise and Girls Rugby trainings after school... there isn't much time left.

So - the point of this post was to show what I'm doing this year - but also the extra-curricular activities I'm doing for myself and my own development - as a teacher and as a person.

School Activities: 
Girls Rugby - Manager
Pacific Island Dance Troupe - Helper
Interact (Youth Rotary) - Teacher Overseer
Epic Voices - TIC
Possibly planning a Year 9 camp for our house group... - Co-Organiser

Personal E-C Activities:
Girls Rugby - because I can have something to talk about with Dad as he takes a Girls Rugby team as well - and it will help build up our relationship again
Rotaract Member
Rotaract Secretary
Interact Liason for my School's group
PPTA - NET Representative for my Branch (School)
PPTA - NET Representative for the Region
PPTA - NET Rep on Committee
PPTA - NET Rep on Conference Organising Committee
Dog Training with Mia

Busy. But still somehow managing to teach well. Or okay. Still need to tackle (get my Rugby reference?) the paperwork, the admin, the marking and the overall day to day stuff. But I'm learning. I'm getting there.

So - if you've stuck this far with me... this is what I think about Extra-Curricular Involvement. Get involved. You'll see a new side to your students. They'll see you as a person not just an authority figure and more than that they will have more respect for you because you are giving up your valuable time to help. They may not always say so but they do appreciate you. Kia kaha :)

Also - you may be pressured by schools to do it - as a BT you shouldn't be forced to take on anything extra. I willingly put myself out there. If you don't want to - you don't have to. But it truly is a rewarding experience - particularly if you teach some of the kids in your EC Activity.

Let me know what you're experiences have been! :)


  1. It does but then it can as you say be incredibly rewarding and a fantastic bridge or relationship builder with the student. We were lucky enough to have Angus McFarlane from the University of Waikato come and talk to my then staff about building relationships and he was really inspiring. Made me drag myself to more Saturday morning sports days and duties for the students and they do respond. Its a hard balancing act but its a bit like online work that ties in with the students the rewards can be fantastic. Just dont work too hard.

    1. Thanks Myles :) Yeah I think I've met Angus before too through uni. I promise not to work too hard. *Saying this at 12.37am...*