Really? Its never about me ...
Education has always been part of my life which has always been a positive part. As an adult and an educator, I often wonder what it would have been like if my parents had taken more notice or been more engaged with my learning. I remember trying so hard in my tests and assignments to do my best in order to make Mum and Dad proud of what I had achieved. I have always wondered what ever happened to the teacher who told me I was "dumb and you will never pass Trigonometry". Where is the teacher who caned me across the knuckles for typing ONE letter more than the class? BUT more importantly, where were my parents to comfort me with these issues?
Systematic change and giving a voice to the voiceless is where I advocate to be. Systematic change in schools and systematic change in society.
I have been in Education my entire life, I just haven't left.
I have been a part of the Mangere Central School Learning Community since Sept. 2002. My role has changed over the years with my most recent role being Deputy Principal. I believe in the concept of 'It takes a village to raise a child' (which stems from an African Proverb), in whatever context that may be for our community.
I have been teaching in Education since 1992, where I have been fortunate enough to hold many positions which have made my career richer and in turn, made my life rich with compassion. Being able to love people for who they are has put me in great steed for the journey I have undertaken. Being able to work with Adults (who are illiterate), to young students (who are looking for help with bridging courses), to 5 year olds (who need to learn the foundation of learning), to students from rural communities (looking for bilingual education to fill a void parents had in their lives), to students from urban communities (lost in the melting pot of Auckland trying to fill the identity void parents have), to students who have physical and mental disabilities (just wanting to belong), to the students where society have already doubted their ability to learn - all of whom I am grateful to for allowing me to share the richness of their lives and thankful I was able to learn so much from them, for I am the better person.
My teaching style involves establishing and maintaining relational trust and respect within our community. Empowering learners to make decisions in terms of their learning and accepting the consequences. Making learning fun, realistic and authentic in the contexts of what we have in our local environment and firstly utilising the resources from our local environment and teaching our learners to transfer those skills into their home environment.
Our strategic plan is road map to direct us with where we, as a learning community want to move. Our Curriculum Plan shapes where our students want to be and how they can get there. Our community find ways to understand how they can help with ensuring our 'judder bars' become 'pebbles in the road'.
As part of my journey, I begun my time at MCS as a Resource Teacher of Māori. This enabled me to delve more in to our local community and liaise with our local marae to incorporate our local environment into the curriculum, including environmental issues of the Manukau Harbour. It was then that I saw the need to expand the learning experiences and language within the classrooms. With all of this knowledge, I began to explore the possibility of how we might record historic stories of the local iwi. In the first instance, money and digital devices were not even evident, therefore we developed the transition of having a native garden, a garden dedicated to a local ancestor and kaitiaki (guardian) and murals which depicted these stories.
I have continued to follow this theme for sustainability even after I took up my other roles within the school. Since then, I have never looked back and have used my networking skills with both Māori and my love for digital devices to establish digital learning within the school.
We joined an ICT cluster (iPlus) in 2009, which consisted of schools outside of our geographic area. One of the goals we had for our cluster was to be able to share and enhance the cultural richness of our schools. We enjoyed working with these schools and although we have not kept in touch lately, we have definitely benefitted from being a part of the cluster and we have given the cluster as much as we received. This is where our school started its journey in growing our community and learning that there is no barrier to learning that we can't overcome.
My colleague and I became the eLead Teachers for our school and the contract continued until 2011. Our project in 2010-2011 was to figure out 'how we were going to sustain: 1. The intensity of the learning and motivation 2. The financial barriers our families would have to continue the learning. The over arching question was: how were we going to ensure that what we had was linking to 'uplifting student outcomes'?
In 2011, we were also selected to take 6 students in Y7 to Japan (in 2012), which started opening up new opportunities and new learning for our students. So, we were introduced to Virtual Learning Network - Primary (VLN), where we were fortunate enough to be able to learn basic Japanese with an eTeacher (who was in Taranaki). Such a great resource but it prompted me to think outside the square to see what it was that we were able to do globally and digitally. This was where my interest of giving students a voice continued.
In 2012, I was still able to make connections with students within our school by learning new languages therefore our students also joined Te Reo Māori classes as part of the VLN and we ventured into offering our students Mandarin. Again, I was given the opportunity to travel to China to experience life and teaching Mandarin as a language. We were also given resources to develop Mandarin teaching in our school. Digital devices played a huge part in my planning here as I was able to blog and also link work to student learning.
From 2013-2014, I have been fortunate enough to also be given the opportunity to travel to San Francisco to visit schools to observe how they use digital devices in their classrooms to engage learning. Although I was in awe of the visit, I was also disappointed with the use of the devices. In our classrooms, it is an expectation that the pedagogy behind the learning is more prominent and evident and the tool is there to support the learning. This was not so evident on the tour.
I have enjoyed watching the growth of Hobsonville Point Secondary School firstly as a concept, then as a school, now as a community. I like the collaborative nature and the pedagogy behind the learning.
As Deputy Principal of our school, I need to be sure of where we are going. Hence, we have the Strategic Plan. I need to be sure our students and staff know how we are going to get there. Hence, we have the Curriculum Plan. I need to know that our students are engaged in their learning. Hence, the walk throughs and the long nights with Professional Learning Groups and Professional Discussions. I need to know that our families, staff and students have a voice. Hence, the open door policy and a huge roll growth.
Our learning is collaborative and clearly with high expectations for all. Strive to achieve as we are; 'A sustainable 21st Century environment where learners are empowered to take flight in our global community'. As Māori, it is not unusual to put 'our personal voice' last, and therefore, I will be sharing my learning journey and examples of learning as the year progresses. I will also cross blog and put photos here to share.
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