Friday, 29 January 2016

Brain Stretch

I have returned home from day 3 of our Teacher only days with the feeling of having had my brain stretched like putty. The presentations and dialogues that were experienced were so rich and juicy with new perspectives, what has been challenging though is considering the implications of all that information for our School and our learners. So many ideas of what an ideal graduate profile might look like but no concrete ideas of how we might get there and what that might look like in classroom practice...yet. Just as I had anticipated, the remainder of the Teacher days were nothing short of amazing. Looking forward to reflecting, after I get some sleep!

Self doubt and Reassurance - Knowing I am in the right place

Question mark vector
Like anybody on the verge of embarking on the very first journey of their career, I had been feeling anxious and nervous: a foreign year level of learners; a shared learning space; the judgement of other teachers (delusional, I know); the digital aspect; the pressure to succeed; it was almost overwhelming. Through dialogue with colleagues, through talking about what learning matters I realised that my fear of judgement and my anxiety of the challenge that lies before me is not greater than my will to create opportunities for learners to succeed. What energy will I have to put into those opportunities if I am spending so much of it on worrying about what other people think of me? Certainly less than I would if I were just getting on with the business. Upon this realisation a calm came over me, a tingling excitement doused my nervousness. In times of self-doubt, I need only ask myself “why?” to be reminded of the big picture; the learner’s worth and my capacity to improve as a person and as a teacher.

During the Manaiakalani Orientation Dorothy Burt wanted to draw attention to the core business of Manaiakalani, the crux of ‘why’ it was, and the answer - He Tangata, he Tangata, he Tangata. The people. From the outside looking in, these organisations - Manaiakalani and Stonefields School, they can come across as flash and exciting because they’re different and unlike anything some people have seen before (which can then also be intimidating for the same reason!) but what has truly been invaluable to me is that through and through - on the websites, media publications and even more importantly in the flesh, this programme and this organisation sing the same song, everything we do is for the people, for our learners and for their futures. We believe in their worth and their ability to succeed. To be surrounded by and involved with such motivated and driven visionaries will keep the 'big picture' in the forefront of what I do each day, leaving very little room for self-doubt and a high need for belief in myself.

Wednesday, 27 January 2016

Unanticipated Teachers-only Day

I never thought hearing the words ‘Teachers only day’ could evoke such excitement and invigoration. To kickstart our Teacher only days, Stonefields staff was blessed to have Nicky Benson facilitate a Resilience and Flexibility workshop. I could talk endlessly on the absolute gems of advice Nicky shared with us today (believe it or not, largely things we already know!) but there are a few main points that I have taken:

  • We need to identify what makes us feel at ‘our best’ - physically, emotionally, mentally and spiritually and ensure that we make those things a priority in our daily lives so that we are feeling balanced and fulfilled.
  • Rather than focus on ‘Time management’ we should be focusing on ‘Energy Management’ - we need to be aware of things we have no control over, things we have influence over and things we can control and use our energy accordingly.
  • Our beliefs are manifested in our everyday language as things we say we “should” be doing. Nicky suggested that instead of ‘should’ we use ‘could’ as ‘could’ represents our freedom of choice. Everyday we have the choice of how to feel and act.
  • Self awareness of our emotional responses to other people's behaviour helps us to understand the subconscious beliefs we might have which in turn affect our behaviour.

The most valuable thing I took from today was that being self aware - from knowing your preferred communication style to your weaknesses, from your beliefs to your pet hates to your biggest strengths, being aware of all of these aspects of self will help shed light on how you can improve as a person and therefore as a teacher. As teachers AND learners we want to be ever increasing our self awareness so that we can do just that, constantly improving ourselves so that we are putting our very best selves forward to the learners and to everybody and everything else we have a responsibility for. Loving the learning that is coming from every day spent at school. Loving that blogging keeps me reflecting. Yes, I am excited to discover what tomorrow’s teacher only day has in store!

Tuesday, 19 January 2016

Exploring Tāmaki and beyond

Monday the 18th of January 2016 marked the beginning of a really special life-changing journey. Dorothy Burt, Anne Sinclair and Fiona Grant led the 2016 MDTA cohort on a hikoi around the Manaiakalani District, as endorphins, enthusiasm and excitement pumped through our bloodstreams. Much like the photo below, we stand at the foot of a great challenge!

We are eager to get going, albeit anticipating moments of severe slopes, understanding that in times of hardship and strain, to reach the summit we must continue to put one foot in front of the other. We need to rest often and admire the view whilst on our way up and stay hydrated! 

Of course, my ever-evolving teaching philosophy believes we never reach a 'summit' however after these next two years I am confident that with a lot of motivation mixed with a heap of resilience, driven by a whole lot of vision, we will emerge from the MDTA victorious (much like this photo of us on top of Mt. Wellington)...

 ...Drenched in Manaiakalani Pedagogy we will continue to change the world through engaging and inspiring learners, one, two or thirty at a time.

“For life–which is in any way worthy, is like ascending a mountain. When you have climbed to the first shoulder of the hill, you find another rise above you, and yet another peak and the height to be achieved seems infinity: but you find as you ascend that the air becomes purer and more bracing, that the clouds gather more frequently below than above, that the sun is warmer than before."
 - Endicott Peabody