Wednesday, 30 September 2015

Chickens, Tuvalu, taiaha & daylight

Learning is a funny beast; sometimes you seek to learn, and at other times it sneaks up behind you and draws you in. Other times it can be the mark of the teacher, when the learning is not about you, but the pleasure you take in others building knowledge.  In one particular instance this week, I was not the instigator of the learning, just a facilitator and an observer.  It was all the more satisfying not because it was life-changing or significant, but just for the natural way the learning occurred for my children (actually my children, not the ones in my class).


We have been looking after the neighbour's chickens. This is not something that my children would have even considered 12 months ago, in the metropolis of Tokyo.  But a change in environment brings about a shift in focus, and the ignition of interests that promote questions of a different ilk.

It is not a taxing task, but it has provided my two with a chance to observe something new and interesting.  There have been many questions. Why is the egg like that? Why are we feeding them that? How do they talk? Where does the egg come out? Why is the egg not a chicken? How can we make it a chicken? Why didn't that egg become hard? What is that strange skin like sack coming off the end of the egg? 

Some of these questions I was able to answer, some required us doing searching to fill the void. At the end of the day, I was just pleased that it was learning from experience.  Greatest of all is the curiosity that it sparked, and the satisfaction on their little faces when they encountered some things that 'grossed them out', some 'surprising' facts, and a few, 'What?' moments.


I was sitting down at lunch today with some friends and the weather was beautiful.  There was a cultural performance on the uni lawn. There was a flag that I couldn't quite place, I knew it wasn't Fiji, Tonga or some of the others being bandied about, but was at a loss.

Soon we learnt it was for Tuvalu Independence Day.  It wasn't unlike many of the flags from countries in the South Pacific.  The general curiosity was around what the stars meant.  We all figured it was something to do with the islands that made up the country.  It was interesting to get home and read that it was a flag of much debate in its own right. 


Before lunch we had an HPE tutorial where there was going to be a focus on te rakau, Maori movement, and taiaha with Tihoi Taylor. Walking in to it, I did not have the faintest inkling that is was going to be so positively engaging, challenging, enlightening, and an absolute blast to boot.  

There are often times that words cannot do an experience justice.  It is often at this point that we make the 'words can't do it justice' statement and then fumble around a few weak metaphors and a little hyperbole in an attempt to do it. I don't think I will, I will just let one of his videos do the talking. Suffice it to say there was a lot of learning.


This is the first daylight savings that my family has been back for.  They have been here for the long summer nights before, but never the changing of the clock.  It was a little body clock shock for a few on the first day, but no real adjustment issues to speak of.  Probably the greatest shift has been a cultural one.  'Is it okay to play outside after dinner?' is what the wife asked on Sunday night.
'Sure, why not? Its school holidays and there is no need to get up early tomorrow' I offered back. 

It made me think back to the long nights we used to spend outside after schools on long summer evenings in the South Island.  The social opportunities were endless.  We played 'go home, stay home' till it got dark, rugby until you couldn't see where your kicks ended up, and built bike tracks until you could not see where the jump's run ups started.  I acknowledge that it was a different time and some are uncomfortable with the safety issues around that sort of freedom these days, but as I type with a smile on my face, children are playing games of tag and stick ball out the window. 

I do love daylight savings. 

Friday, 11 September 2015

I wonder ...

This time last year I was just getting back to work in the 3rd term of a four term school year in Japan. The weather was stifling and the humidity thick in the air as it was every Summer.  It was made so much worse by a recent trip back to NZ, a chilly one, and a niggle that left me with many burning questions.  I was thinking about returning to NZ to go back to University.  It was going to be a massive shift in thinking, lifestyle, income, and life.  What will I do?

Fast forward 12 months and I am at a crossroads again.  I am coming very close to the finish of the formal side of classes and assessment for the course.  The final practicum location is not yet decided and I am waiting eagerly, like an excited child counting down the days to Christmas morning, for where I will be placed; I hope I get what I asked Santa for.

Prior to, during, and after the final practicum (perhaps) there will be the pressure to think of the next step in the journey - applying for positions.  I have been polishing off a new CV, to the buzz around campus of what principals are looking for in them. We all have experience, but the way you convey this in a CV?
Where do I apply for jobs?
Do we (my family) consider relocation - again?
Relocate to where?
What are they really looking for?
Do I fit the bill?
How do I convey my enthusiasm for the job?
Does my experience overseas count?
What is my point of difference?
What type of CV are they looking for?
How do I ensure an interview?
Will things fall into place on practicum?

I find something peculiarly stimulating about questions.  They are a challenge to respond.  How will I respond? I only need to think back to this time last year

Friday, 4 September 2015

Wow! Choose a name for a blog? Harder than I would have thought

I had talked with my brother, a Primary teacher in the Auckland area, a number of times about starting a blog to follow/guide my teaching journey.  Humming and hawing on this is something that can only be done so long, and then you just have to step into the void. So it seemed somewhat odd, that in the midst of being very busy with finishing some assignments for the Graduate Diploma in Teaching (Primary) that I am studying for, dealing with a child in need of some urgent dental work, and trying to have a holiday/enjoyable study break, that I was spurned in to the actual decision to start a blog.  Why would I do this when I am seemingly busy?  Perhaps it is more the indication of the true nature of teaching; taking on even more tasks even when you are already busy.

So why now?

I attended the eduignitehautapu evening on 3rd of September, 2015.  I have been a tweeter for a long time and had been in contact with @mrs_hyde about attending, and she put me on the path to confirming attendance, of which I am grateful.   That actual confirmation of attendance was an unusually nervous step for me.  I am not entirely sure what the cause of the trepidation was. I have been outside of my comfort zone lots of times. It is not like I haven't made big decisions in my life, and not like those decisions haven't turned out wonderful (I will get into that more in other posts). Nor do I consider myself a shy person.

The angst at the centre of taking the step to attend, was that I was excited. I am motivated by the prospect of becoming not just a teacher, but a great teacher. Kind of like the way you hear of newly named All Blacks, not settling for just being labelled as an All Black, instead having that drive to become remembered as a great one.  In saying that, I am not setting lofty goals for myself as a teacher like recognition on a national level - but then again, why shouldn't I set lofty goals for myself? I'm rambling now - back to the point. I recognise seeking ways to build myself as an educator is an integral part of the building blocks to becoming someone who does great work. Attending the evening turned out to be a great decision in more ways than one.

Not only did I gain ideas, but I am now writing this.  I guess that final inspiration that pushed me over the edge was @ariaporo22 who said something along the lines of, 'Don't think about starting, just start.' So I did.

A couple of tweets later about which platform is best to use and I am typing.  So here goes ...