Sunday, 1 February 2015


I always thought I'd never be one of those people who would start a professional blog only to write a few entries then leave it dormant for SIX MONTHS. But I often make assumptions about my own behaviour and get it very wrong (there's a lesson lurking in that statement!).
BUT, I do have several reasons for my silence, so allow me to attempt to condense six months of work and holidays into one brief, informative blog entry.

Great Barrier Island:

My initial lapse in writing was due to a five week trip on Great Barrier Island. I accompanied 29 Year 10 students on a program run by what was then the Outdoor Pursuits Centre and is now Hillary Outdoors. This trip consumed all of Term 3 - I was at school for the first three weeks of term and entirely focussed on preparing my remaining classes for my absence. The last two weeks of term were all about supporting the Year 10s upon their return and catching up my other classes.
In my naievty I had intended to blog once or twice from the island. There was no time for that! While away I was mother, nurse, teacher, slave driver, friend, coach, chef, cleaner, photographer... And still managed to spend plenty of time fishing, snorkeling, tramping, reading and watching Blackadder!
The five weeks was not devoid of writing - the class's form teacher provided them all with journals in which to record their experiences and a printer to keep up with all the photos. I devoted a lot of time to this project as well in order to preserve my memories of this hectic time. Below is a photo of one page of this journal.
This year I am very fortunate to have the 2014 GBI group as my form class, and I will again teach the 2015 GBI class for English. While I could go on and on about this amazing experience I will save my stories for the future and dish them out in moderation.

A journal entry. The photo is of a beach that Sir Edmund Hillary used to play at, taken by my colleague Nigel.

Returning to school last year:

Just like the students I found the return to school very challenging. I had already decided I would not dean in 2015 and felt demotivated and sapped of energy - not by my time on GBI, but from being back at school. One significant way in which our perception had changed was that we all noticed negativity much more readily. I, like the students, longed to return to our paradise. I knew that I would adjust in time, but did not expect it to take all of Term 4 - it is only now that I am starting the year fresh that I am feeling back to my old teacher self.

The holidays!

These summer holidays we chose to stay at home almost the whole time which has been a first for us. We had two very good reasons - firstly we just bought our own house and secondly we got married mid January. This summer was perfection - full of swimming in the sea and the river, gardening, nesting, family time and the best party ever. I refused to talk about school and avoided reading anything about education online! Without a doubt those six weeks have enabled me to return to work itching to get back into the classroom.

Those are my three very good reasons for not blogging until now. A five week island retreat (yeah right!), a two month period of soul searching, buying a house and getting married!

Term 1, 2015:

Well, a lot is different this year. I am back to a full teaching load and can focus solely on my own classes and being a supportive and productive member of my department. I have two Year 9 classes, one of which is a BYOD class, the Year 10 English class who will go to GBI for 5 weeks, an internal Year 11 class and an exam Year 12 class. I think my next entry will be about the texts I intend to teach. I have lots of new ideas, but for me it's always about trying to limit the amount of new texts I teach otherwise I make it too hard on myself.
The second major thing that is different this year is that I am post-GBI, where I did learn a lot. As I wrote above, I struggled to remain positive upon my return. And so that is my main goal for this year: to remain positive. It is a struggle. So often we want to vent with our colleagues. But a significant component of my training at NZGSE was an acknowledgement of the 'culture of complaint' prevalent in most workplaces and the need to deal with it. I'm not suggesting that my school has a 'culture of complaint' any worse than any other New Zealand secondary school, but I am saying I will try to be more positive this year.

A new year! A new me! A new you? I'm looking forward to the adventure!

 Whāia te iti kahurangi ki te tūohu koe me he maunga teitei
Pursue excellence – should you stumble, let it be to a lofty mountain

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