Thursday, 12 October 2017

#TeachMeetNZ Reflection

As we were heading towards the end of Term 3 Sonya (@vanschaijik asked me to be a part of the, then upcoming, #TeachMeetNZ. I had heard about #TeachMeetNZ although I had not been involved in one previously. But this is my self-appointed year of learning new things and consciously challenging myself- so I said yes.
I was grateful that Sonya had a specific topic she wanted me to present on. With my battle with indecision avoided, I began planning. 'WeChat and its use in connecting and engaging community', was the topic and I was/am passionate about it.
WeChat really has changed the way I have done things. My context: I work in a central Auckland primary school with a large number of ESL kids. Our parents are amazingly supportive, yet so busy, with work and/or study. WeChat is a messaging App which allows me to have conversations and send photos to individuals, small groups and whole class. This has saved me time in organising meetings, giving feedback, getting parent help and countless other class admin jobs. But my favourite thing about it has been the motivation it has provided in allowing my students to share their learning with family at home and their work at home with me! I am being sent pictures of pages and pages of writing that my "reluctant" writers are keen to share with me!
Returning to my reflection about the actual presentation processes (but I have attached my slides on WeChat if you are keen to see).
All credit for success really should go to Sonya (@vanschaijik as she patiently answered all questions, held practice sessions and worked through the practicalities of a Google hangout.
Personally, I spent several hours preparing my presentation. Again my weakness towards 'fluffiness' with words appeared as I received feedback from my co-presenters to include less text/more images on my slides. I struggled a little with this as I have noticed I don't have many pictures (a next step for me), so screenshots from WeChat had to suffice.
I really enjoyed the practice session and felt like I presented better than I expected. I was pleased with the feedback and I enjoyed being given constructive and clear ways to move forward.
Then Saturday arrived. I was nervous but felt prepared. If I'm honest I was more concerned about the unpredictability of the technology side (inc wifi). So I (lovingly) sent my husband out, saying he couldn't drain the connection! And got ready; box for the computer, headphones, curtains closed, lights and lipstick on - I was ready to go!
I was very honoured to be asked by Sonya to do the opening Karakia a first for #TeachMeetNZ. And then I got to sit back and watch the two presenters before me (both great! - I've provided the link for TeachMeetNZ Presentations).
Then it was my turn. If I'm honest what I said is mostly a blur. I was considering looking at the camera at the right point, sitting back in my chair, sharing my screen and then speaking slowly enough so my words didn't jumble, oh and the ever progressing timer!
As with all learning journeys there were several cringe worthy moments where I got tongue tied including me forgetting a word and randomly selecting 'superb' and possibly using 'negated' in the wrong way!?   
But the feedback from other’s has suggested they perceived my passion and were interested in investigating WeChat further (so Objective=ACHIEVED).

In conclusion, it was a challenge for me to put myself 'out there' in this new way but I'm pleased I did. I learnt a lot about my next steps, shared something that I think will really help others, and met a whole new group of passionate and creative educators- it was a win-win situation!


Thursday, 9 June 2016

This year has been an interesting one, I have made the move in to the senior school teaching Year 4 and 5. Wow I have loved it. Such rich conversations and learning.

The boss has been discussing work life balance and I have been trying. Making progress even. Sometimes failing but sometimes heading out for ice cream and not even thinking about school. This teaching thing is the making of me rather than the breaking. I love it. I love the challenge, the questions, the push and pull. I love the conversations and excitement from kids. I love the parents who have seen something change – some type of “click” happen with their tamariki. 
The job is hard (not saying it’s harder than anyone else) but it takes everything you give it and more and unfortunately I have never been that good at limiting what I give. 

Just last week I got sick and took a day off, having no voice and nothing left in my kete. I ignored good advice from others and came back too soon. Today I am sick again no voice to speak but no stillness in my mind. So today in between sleeping and taking vitamins, I think… How have I got run down, where did my balance begin to slip?

I am learning though. I am learning that we need to work smarter not harder. We need to learn and stretch, bend and push but stop before we break.

So today I rest and recharge and tomorrow if there is voice in me I will head back, back to my room, back to my tamariki, back to the chalk face. I will teach, challenge and dream again- not just for my tamariki but for me, for all I can achieve as a teacher, as a kaitiaki, for the small steps, the big learning and the chance to instill something more in my students.

This job is hard, but it’s hard because it is important. I am tired because I care and tomorrow I will look to strike the balance again. Tomorrow is a new day.

Kia Kaha Kaiako, We are in this…so let’s be in it together. 

Sunday, 4 October 2015

My language far

‘The iceberg’ analogy is one I identify with in describing my te reo Māori journey. This analogy centres on the idea that an iceberg only has a small proportion of its surface above water, where it can be seen and comprehended. It’s hidden mass and arguable power are invisible from the surface- unless you are keen to dive deep.

I was not born in New Zealand. I did not learn te reo Māori, whether it be phrases, words or songs until I went to university. My love of this language however, began early in my teacher training. My university lecturer was passionate, knowledgeable and what I would respectfully call ‘staunch’ in her Māoritanga. So with enthusiasm, excitement and a whole lot of patience from those around me I began my te reo journey- exploring the tip of the iceberg by gaining kupu (words) and then being able to read and recognize them in conversation. Then I began learning some sentence structures.

I love being a teacher and in teaching my tamariki I consolidate my knowledge and motivate myself to continue learning more so I can walk ahead and guide the path of my student’s to tautoko (support) them on their learning journey. One of my students recounted this year that, “Miss Cleary is really trying to learn more Māori and teach me and others it. I think it’s good that she is learning Māori. I like Māori culture because it is my culture and it is an important culture to NZ”

An unexpected benefit of this journey is how it has helped me as a teacher. I work in a school where the majority of our students are learning English as a second language. My own journey has helped me to empathise and has opened my eyes to some of the challenges and frustrations they encounter and yet continue to overcome. Their persistence, patience and rapid progress has continued to enlighten, challenge and inspire me.

My goal in the short term is to learn further structures and to practise using te reo more in conversation (watch out ōku hoa!).

Ehara taku toa, he takitahi, he toa takitini
My success should not be bestowed onto me alone, as it was not individual success but success of a collective.

The above whakatauki resonates with me as I continue to receive support from those further along in their te reo use, but also from friends who have learnt and persevered in their own language-acquisition journey, te reo and others. (It truly does take a village to ‘raise’/teach a child, kaiako and language). I have found the more tools, experts and fellow travellers I have beside me on my journey the better it is. Thank you to the amazing people who love me and/or the language so much they repeat things a hundred times and answer a thousand questions. Thank you to those people – bless you for your resilience, patience and passion.

I don’t yet know the depth of my iceberg but I do know that I am not there yet, I am a long way off, but I have begun and am closer than I was last week, last month or last year. My learning is not about the destination but the journey and so far I have been encouraged to persist, take risks, learn from critique and korero on.
And ultimately – we live in Aotearoa the home of te reo Māori
Mā te kōrero I te reo e ora ai, mā te ora o te reo ka rangatira.
In order for our language to be remembered it must be spoken.
Dive deep and Kia kaha ōku hoa
If this Australian can, anyone can.

Wednesday, 30 September 2015

PD with Te Waka Reo

This term I was fortunate to go with @newmarketschool to PD with Te Waka Reo. The kaupapa of these 3 hui was about Building a Quality te reo Māori Programme in your School. Michele Coxhead (Te Waka Reo) facilitated these sessions with passion and knowledge and upon entering the room you could feel her wairua and enthusiasm for the language, people and culture. We began by looking at our responsibility under the Tiriti o Waitangi - these concepts were broken down into 3Ps; partnership, participation and protection. 

The next sessions we looked at developing a streamlined, scaffolded and cohesive te reo plan for our whole kura. We have decided to base our plan around a 2 year cycle. We will have a topic each term that will coincide with the time of the year and/or our focus, with three different levels scaffolded to ensure the students can build on their knowledge. These plans are detailed and stepped out to allow all to understand and participate fully. They are still a work in progress and my hope is they will continue to be, as we work with them to add, change and tweak. 

Out of the course I was able to connect with several other like-minded teachers and we have met to continue building our resources- multiple minds is definitely better than one in this case! I have thoroughly enjoyed coming together and collaborating with a common goal in mind. 

There is still a lot more to do but I am excited and passionate about all that can be achieved and I am blessed to be working at a school where I am able to use, follow and extend my learning and passion.  

Mā te kōrero I te reo e ora ai,
mā te ora o te reo ka rangatira. 

In order for our language to be remembered it must be spoken.  

Monday, 15 September 2014


Yesterday (12.9.14) Room 11 participated in our first Skype chat. This is a concept that was pitched to me by Sonya (@Vanschaijik). She had been approached by Craig Kemp (@mrkempnz) who wanted a class at his school in Singapore to connect via Skype with a class in another country. I had told the students about this ‘Mystery Skype’ and there was a lot of excitement. Friday was the day.
 All went well (thanks to a great team). Our new friends figured out where we were from well before us (note – next time we should come prepared with atlas/ipads). 

After both classes had figured out each other's locations we had some spare time to ask further questions. It was great to hear the student's questioning. Our class' focus recently has been on transport and more specifically trains. It was good to hear the student's questions about transport and now we have more to learn/research about Singapore's MRT system.  

What a fun opportunity! The students were totally engaged and excited to investigate and find out more. It was good hearing my very multi-cultural class use some of their knowledge/experience. It was also a great learning opportunity for me and has provided a great spring board for future learning.

Through this process I saw 'walls' being broken down for my students as they took another step towards seeing themselves as connected global citizens. I was very grateful for the support of both Craig and Sonya. This was a seemingly easy experience to organise and had huge impact. We are definitely excited about our next ‘Mystery Skype’.  

Elim Visit

On Wednesday Renee Hogg and I had the opportunity to visit Elim Christian College in Botany Downs. The school is a full primary and secondary school located on separate sites.  We were taken on a tour of both campuses. The purpose of our tour was to investigate how Elim are using team teaching and shared space.
The first area we looked at was the Year 7 block which was designed with the teacher’s input. This space has 3 teachers and approx. 75 students. In the unit there is space to accommodate whole group sessions, group teaching and independent work (based on a cave, waterhole and campfire scenario). One aspect that impressed me was how much ownership the students had over this space, and their learning. The names and expectations about the 3 ‘learning areas’ were all discussed and generated with the students. There are times when the students are directed into a learning area and at other times they select it (using a sign to dictate what ‘space’ they are in).
While at the senior campus we also had an opportunity to see how a team of Yr8 teachers had used a pre-existing building (the old library) and had turned it in to a shared teaching space. 
Following this we were taken to the junior campus which is a more modern build. This campus is going through further development. The spaces have again been designed to be flexible and open to accommodate team teaching/shared space. There are large glass sliding doors, a range of furniture (including desks, kneelers, circle couches and beanbags) and breakout areas.

Overall I think this was a really useful experience as it allowed us to see both designed and ‘improvised’ spaces. It was helpful to be able to ask questions and hear from Wendy’s first-hand experience. 



Hi I'm Elena. I am a teacher at Newmarket Primary School, Auckland New Zealand.
I am interested in connecting with other educators. I love teaching and learning.