Saturday, 13 August 2016

Edchatnz Conference: Part 1

Wow! What an awesome first day ;) We started off yesterday with a bit of a trek from the car towards Rototuna Junior High School, sun beaming behind it. Made a new friend as we both got out of our respective cars and were talking about our schools and the possibilities at RJHS. Now that I think of it, both of us were skirting the issue around how cool it would be to work there.. haha. More to come on that later...

The amazing thing about edchatnz conference is that the connections you make and the ones you originally made on Twitter to fully form face to face... are absolute gold. I can't wait to see who turns up today at conference!

Danielle and Phillippa talked to us about the possibilities and sharing of ideas. The need to continue being the lone nut and embracing the lone nuts in schools who help on the journey. Absolutely adored Danielle's korero. Awesome effort with her pepeha too!!!

We were welcomed from Fraser Hill, the principal of Rototuna Junior High School (RJHS), at the beginning of the conference. It was good to hear him explain in more depth about the area, how Ngāti Wairere gifted the names of the school learning areas, the importance of how deep the consulation went with hapu means so much to me - even down to the colour of the orange in the uniforms as pigment that was used for dyes, the carpet on the ground floor representing the peat from the area, the use of the kahu... ataahua.

Our day started off with finding our tribe. Sounds weird... I know.. but as tribe mentors, we were able to create discussions with our groups around what they might do to help their own situations in schools and how they might go about creating change. Our tribe is hoping to stay connected, for a long time, if not a short time... preferably through a Facebook Group.

We are the very ataahua Kotuku. Graceful, elegant and sleek.

At the beginning of today, I was trying to find a way in to ask about goal setting, it didn't work as fast as I liked. I started off with a quick circle up sharing who we are, where we've come from, how long we've been teaching. It was great to see them all sharing in this at least. To help explain that we don't want to be waiting for the next person to share once we began the big discussions I used Bogun's term 'Circle of Death'. I kept figuring out how to pose the question around creating a goal.... but backed off when there was radio silence... realised that we hadn't done enough whakawhanaungatanga and so carried on... We shared what struggles we had in creating change at our schools, how we might develop more risk taking in schools, how we might find ways to circumnavigate issues we wee currently having, how we might share without restrictions and collaborate with our colleagues.

The conversation that was generated from that was absolutely beautiful. So stoked. We finished our korero and went to our first session with the promise of meeting up at lunch again.

I spent a fair bit of time today talking to different kids at RJHS. I was a little surprised at how they circled me and wanted to talk to me after only a short few minutes. Sure I initiated the conversation and began building on the relationship by asking about their learning and their experiences, but I always find it interesting how quickly those bonds are formed between me and potential students. I loved that the kids were so articulate with their learning. Sharing what they were learning... not what they were doing.

The korero from Mel and the tour after by students of RJHS was awesome. Seeing the school through their eyes was great. Beautiful spaces. Awesome learning. Great teaching. Twos and threes. Integrated learning. Modules and flight time. Makes sense now that I've seen it in action.

We met up again - the tribe mentors - to discuss our progress and what we'd learnt so far. Some of the groups weren't quite gelling yet - I was pleased to share that our group was doing really well! We discussed the issue around the pitch and figured out essentially, what strengths did our tribe members have and what could we do to amplify this?

Last session of the day was to talk with our tribes again and drill down on a possible idea for a pitch. Using that question around how we might amplify something in our schools, we discussed how we might begin making small changes that lead to incremental changes that eventually lead to bigger changes.

The idea around risk taking was shared a lot. As most of my tribe members are primary sector it was awesome hearing about their experiences and issues with reading groups and writing... a lot of discussion around methods and alternatives to what was already happening. Discussion around needs-based groups and self-evaluation. Having the whiteboard tables helped immensely.

Our idea is awesome too. Our pitch is this morning. I look forward to seeing how they go.

Feeling a bit excited, way less nervous now that I've refocussed myself. Interview this morning. :) Night koutou.