Posted in Professional learning, random ramblings, surface, Teaching and Learning, Techie stuff

Making GIFs in Microsoft PowerPoint

A quick little post about something I did for the #teachingwithsurface competition NZ was running – a ridiculous simple was to use Microsoft PowerPoint to make customisable GIFS for revision or for using in presentations to get key ideas across quickly. For some key ideas, a GIF is a really efficient way to get the idea across in a simple ways, and they GIFs can be embedded into a variety of digital tools, including teams chats and feeds, Onenote, and PowerPoint. I originally used a few online GIF maker (Giphy has a good one, so is GIFPAL) after doing the images in PowerPoint or Onenote, but then I realised that PowerPoint had a built in export to GIF function right there!! Why was I making more work for myself!!

All you need to do is make a succession of slides

Then export, and then you have your GIF

Today my students made some, and while they don’t all have devices with inking capacity, they were able to draw out some molecules and show the process. A nice end of term with tired brains activity for sure.

Have fun

Posted in random ramblings

Flying away

Well, not flying. Yet anyways. I still hate planes!! And occasionally LOVE Dunedin. Especially the beaches.

I am taking a year off teaching next year. I am excited, terrified, elated, anxious, cautious and curious all at the same time. I’m going to have a break, do some contract work (I’ve got the paper work but waiting on the formalities) and hopefully get excited again.

It has not been an easy decision to make, but I have just struggled this year. I had a really tough start where I just wasn’t feeling it. I put it down to my disappointment at being asked to teach out of my subject area, and the conflict that caused. I found some exciting ways to make the courses I teach manageable, but have just felt off all year. I made some changes at home (I lost 10 kilos!! With some more still come…… or not, I do like wine and chocolate), I tried to make some changes at school, but it just hasn’t felt right. Some changes stuck, some didn’t, and I just didn’t get the same satisfaction. And there is no specific way to say it, but I felt I lost my mojo. Although I still LOVED most of my classes most days, it wasn’t enough to drown out the other difficult but somehow nameless things.

I kept thinking back to my post was back in 2016 about teachers flying away… and how these amazing teachers do just need to go do something else for a while. Some are back teaching in classrooms and schools, others are still in education in other ways, and some are in different roles altoghether. These people have given me the courage to try something new, and I certainly hope I find my way back, refreshed and ready to another crack at it. Or perhaps I find a new space where I can regain my energy and passion for all things educationy.

And I am incredibly thankful for people who have helped me come to this choice. Especially my family (and that we are ‘lucky’ enough to be able to handle a drop/variation in income), but school as well. And to some amazing colleagues and friends who have made the transition, and have so kindly shared their experiences and expertise – they really did pave the way for me. Especially the couple that told me taking that first step was the hardest and the rest just followed. Was totally true.

So, to new adventures, and stretching my wings

Wish me luck.

Posted in Professional learning, random ramblings, Teaching and Learning

Feedback is like echolocation, and I’m a little bit lost without it

My ‘inquiry’ focus for this year ‘is’ around making sure I’m giving the best feedback to students I can. I had made a start in this post  around how I could use the data collected from Microsoft forms better, and make sure it was usable to the students. I have some draft posts about insights in teams (It is awesome!!) and the feedback features in Education perfect (which is pretty good) and how I have used these during lock down and will hopefully push through into more of my ‘day to day’ teaching routine.

Yesterday I had an online class, and a few kids where there. They all dutifully muted their microphones when I was presenting. They asked a few questions, and there was some chit chat, but I really missed that classroom ‘vibe’. It made me think about the feedback I get from my classes everyday that I often don’t quantify or think about, but is so vital to what I do.


I think we all do this in various ways, and why a face to face conversation is so much more powerful than a phone call. I am missing that feel you get when you are explaining something, and something snaps or some-one sighs, and you know you need to find another way to explain it. Or the little gasp of recognition that shows it is clicking for some-one – usually followed by a stare of disbelief from some-one not there yet. Or the kid interupting with a slight side track question that strengthens understanding. The moving around a room, making yourself available to check in, look over shoulders, watch facial expressions and body language. Watching students doing practicals ‘spark’ off each other. Or just watching kids being kids….

So it a good reminder that I don’t only have to think about the feedback I am giving the students, but how can I use the feedback the students give me. And not just the asked for feedback, but those subtle (or not so subtle) actions that I have been really missing.

Take care out there


Posted in Professional learning, random ramblings

I can’t find it…… how can we support students AND teachers to navigate online environments??

Like many, I’ve been thrown in the deep end of distance learning as NZ has been in various stages of lockdown. Because of interest, and a good skill set, and a bank of digital resources, I was ok about the shift. (Really missing practicals though). Most of my classes have used the platform (we are using office 365 Teams, which has been pretty awesome) before, and know their way around. Even despite this, I’ve had a few questions asking where stuff is, or we have had a few syncing issues where stuff hasn’t got where it should so students lose confidence about where things are.

And I have seen plenty of memes on the interwebs about students struggling to navigate online planning platforms

It has made me think back to what feels like ancient times when I was starting out as a teacher, and we were learning some literacy strategies. Who ever was running the session was going through parts of a text book – the content page etc, and then on the page – what did the pictures show? The captions? Were there summaries in boxes….?? And then, how did we know to check this? Who had taught us?

I think it is easy to forget that students don’t always know how to navigate online environments. Just like the text book example, unless someone has shown them how to use it, they don’t know. Or, the might have been shown it, but didn’t need it so forgot. (I am often like this with KAMAR….) Often times, ‘we’ ‘assume’ that someone else will teach them, and they should just know! Like teaching some-one to use a text book – surely they learned in primary school? Or isn’t that the English teachers job? If it is online learning, it must be the digitech teachers job, not mine.

The other thing to consider is that students can navigate some environments, and many of the memes say why can you manage tiktok or games, but not school. I think this is simply a cost benefit – students want the outcomes of the game, or the social connection. The motivation is different…. so how do we motivate students to check?? Or how can we gamify the experience, so students WANT to get to the next steps, but also learn from experience. Almost all games come with a tutorial level and then get harder.

I also wonder the same question for teachers – how to do grow confidence and skill sets within our profession. I am AMAZED at the uptake I have had with some PLD sessions I helped organise, and the incredible things teachers have done. But I worry about the teachers I have not heard from – how are they doing? Are they stuck and struggling silently? Are the racing along just fine? Are they doing their best, but don’t know what they don’t know, and so are working harder than they need too….. And I still get the odd question, that I have answered multiple times before, that gets emailed, messaged, text (or called on my cell phone while I was out and about) from teachers who need help JUST THEN.

And I constantly come back to how do I build capacity for people to have a go, and try and figure it out. No matter how many times I demo that really, I spend a lot of my time playing round with stuff till I figure it out, people just don’t believe me. Staff still ask for a frame by frame pdf print out of what to do (the videos go too fast…). I also keep coming back to a point about TELA devices, there is no point giving someone a shiny new devices if you don’t talk them through it, and so often this doesn’t happen.

I don’t have any answers here, I wish I did. Perhaps if I did, I’d be out of a job.

Perhaps we all need to take a breath and think how we can all navigate the online spaces for teaching and learning better – for both staff and students. Because there will only be more of it to come, and while the challenges with the Corona virus are significant, the opportunities to reimage what education could be are endless

Posted in random ramblings, Uncategorized

Reflections from PPTA ICT committee meeting May 1

The PPTA ICT committee had an extra meeting in May, to review how online learning is working for different regions, and to offer some opinions and ideas to exec who are continuing to meet with various official parties such as NZQA and the ministry. As usual, these are my thoughts and interpretations, I’m happy to be corrected.

We started with a bit of a whip around people present, to see what was happening and if there were any concerns from regions. All had been REALLY busy, and most had noticed a drop off in engagement in week 3. (On reflection, I wonder if this was a symptom of the shorter week with Anzac day on the Monday, and the ‘teachers only’ day on the tuesday…. especially as even Te Kura had notioced a drop in engagment and really they were almost business as usual). There had been issues with some online learning platforms (MSFT and GOOGLE) that were in various levels of being resolved. Many schools had been working hard to get devices out to students, some students had received hard packs from the ministry, but there were still some students who had limited contact. Lots of members talked about the positive shifts that were happening, and the open, willing attitudes of staff and students to make the most of the situation, while a few were really using it as a push to a strategic shift in teaching and learning approaches.

There were of course some concerns, especially around teacher work loads. some teachers are more confident working in the online environment, where as it is a source of stress for others. Managing workloads with other commitments, such as looking after children, or vulnerable people in a household are of concern. The distinction between online learning and ’emergency learning’ was discussed, and this interesting article was shared. Clarification was sought around ‘bubbles’ in schools, are teachers allowed to be rotated in bubbles, or should it be the same teacher with the same group of students? (it appears there is conflicting advise on this, and different schools had different approaches, as well as different numbers of students attending).

There were also questions about NCEA and NZQA. NZQAS has released some information to help with online learning, but the general feeling was the resources were underwhelming (The Chem matrix is HERE). (I got a little but ‘pippy’ with these, it is all very well to say you could assess redox remotely for example, but the authenticity of the task will be significantly different without the practical to support learning. And while some students might have access to some household equipment they could make do with, other will not, making the situation even more inequitable. Needs must I suppose, and if we got to the end of the year, I would do this online so students had the ‘credits’ to pass. Sigh. Credits for credits sake…. )

Other subject teachers brought this up, how can soldering, hard material tech, foods…. assess. Not all subjects are equal in this regard. A Languages teacher shared it was also difficult for her, as speaking and responding is a key part of language learning, which is more difficult to replicate online, especially with mixed access to technology. There was also discussion around the ‘Assessment evidence gathering templates…(chem one HERE) and how they were not perhaps as helpful as they might have been (some subjects made a comparison of a unit standards ticksheet, whereas I said I didn’t think these would help with the lottery of moderation as they were quite broad and moderators feedback was often quite specific) Questions where asked about UE requirements and endorsement. If standards are dropped, this might limit options for students seeking endorsement, as you need a mixture of internal and external standards for this. So while NCEA if ‘flexible’, it was a challenge to flex specific requirements of different subjects and standards. There was mention of a group started by Claire Amos to try and ‘hack’ NCEA to make this more workable (HERE) which could help some schools and students.

A couple of other little things came up before I get to the last big thing

Accord days – will these be happening as given how disrupted everything was, would these teacher only days actually be useful. Was the NCEA review still going ahead? Short answer re accord days was we are not sure. The review is still going ahead, but the timeline has been extended. Exec were going to look into it.

Subject associations and Networks of Expertise(NeX). The PPTA had talked to several subject associations and NeX, and were thrilled with the work these subject assocs were doing to support teachers at this time, from webinars on online teaching, sharing resources etc. If you are looking for some support, do check them out. There was no word on whether the NeX funding would continue, but that the work they were doing was awesome.

Lastly, there was a specific question about intellectual property of resources being made by teachers, which lead into an interesting discussion around the future of schooling. The take home message if despite the fact you are working from home, you are being paid by your school, and your content ‘belongs to them’. The ministry ‘encourages’ creative commons, but it is up to individual school board to decide on their policies, and some board are more sharingly minded than others. I still don’t get why the ministry just doesn’t make this a whole thing for any state school in NZ, but who am I to make that call 🙂  (An interesting aside was if you read the google and zoom terms of service, if a document is stored on their servers, it belongs to them, which might be worth checking into depending on your personal or schools arrangements.)

The conversation on sharing resources took an interesting turn, as a point had been raised (by a member out of the committee) that they felt they were making resources that would see them out of a job and make them redundant. While I don’t feel this is the case, there were several points raised about the future of education, and centralisation of resources. There are still issues with teacher recruitment (although a global recession might ease that as others are forces into career changes) and education is expensive. There had been previous pushes for online learning communities, and there are, of course, some really positive education stories coming out of the current challenges. But there is also a stark reality that online learning pushes the cost onto families, and the inequalities for families are definitely more obvious. There are also some students who need the routine, the face to face contact, more than others, and how could those two be blended? If we move into lower levels of lockdown in NZ, what creative ways can we manage timetabling to allow for greater social distancing in our schools. I think of our corridors, and our crowded teacher work spaces, and wonder how these will be managed. Much less our class rooms with 30+ students crammed in. I also ponder how (in Dunedin at least) there are lots of schools who might have 2 or 3 students wanting to do a subject, but can’t because of lack of resourcing, where as if we were centralised there could be so many more options.

But the discussion kept coming back to people. The people, the people, the people. Those teachable moments because students spark of each other, the small smiles that indicate progress, the relationships and ‘soft skills’ students learn from each other. Even if education does move into a more long term distance learning model, students and teachers will still need to find ways to build relationships to move forward with learning. How hard people are working at this time, from the ministry, unions, boards, SLT teams, teachers, parents, teacher aides and cleaners and maintaince crew, all of these people are working to do the best we can by the kids.

If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to sing out, and if I have got something wrong, please let me know. As always, I’m happy to be corrected, and these are my opinions and ramblings only.

Take care.


Posted in random ramblings, Uncategorized

Reflection from PPTA ICT meeting April 2

We are sure living through interesting time. I hope everyone is as safe and as happy as they can be in their various bubbles around the place. And you are enjoying school holidays – what ever that looks like for you.

This morning I attended via zoom the PPTA ICT committee meeting. These are more thoughts, recollections and interpretations of what was said. As always, I’m more than happy to be corrected or directed on what I say below. Or if you want more info, please sing out and I’ll do my best to point you in the right direction.

The meeting was not quite as structured as usual, with lots of points being revisited in different contexts, so my notes were not as complete as usual. This is more of a stream of consciousness around some key topics

  1. Expectations of schools

The PPTA exec asked the teachers/reps present about the expectations from their schools in regards to online teaching. The people present were remarkably varied in the expectations from their school

  • some had gone straight into online teaching last week, with an expectation of maintaining a full timetable
  • Others had a more flexible present for 10-20 minutes to introduce an idea, then be available for the hour while students worked on it.
  • Others had a try your best but if you schedule online time please make it during normal class time to avoid clashes
  • Others were avoiding meeting online altogether and setting work that could be completed – aiming for the normal timetabled hours worth of activity with the work set.
  • Another example was the teachers were expected to email home each day (so five!! emails) with the work set for the day
  • Another was work was being set by class teachers, but the pastoral care team (whanua or form teachers I guess…..) were doing the face to face checking in a couple of times a week and collating any questions or concerns.

So it was a really big mixture. There was also a wide range of learning management systems (google, Microsoft, Schoology etc) with some schools asking to stick within a particular platform, and others with a much broader option.

All the teachers present were on holiday now, but we were all working and prepping in some degree. I talked about how I didn’t want to put any pressure on my students, but I was also aware some would be coping by smashing out some school work as that was something they could control. I suspect there will be teachers doing this too – where as I have been spending time with Mr 7, trimming the overgrown holly hedge fence around my home and drinking copious amounts of tea. So we need to find a way to make sure teachers stay supported too, while remembering this will look different for everyone

2) NCEA/NZQA/Courses and content

This was a really messy inter-threaded conversation, but from my understanding the main points were

  • How do we support more practical subjects like dance or hard material tech with online learning?
  • How do we manage changes to NCEA/courses. Eg As a chemistry teacher, I can’t complete the practical internals that we had scheduled. So do we just change direction? (FYI, you can change the standards offered, but you need to touch base with your principals nominee to do so! Check in with them before offering any standard that is not your normal standard)
  • This lead to a really cool conversation about what was important. I’m firmly in team NCEA doesn’t really matter right now!! But of more interest was how could NCEA change?How many credits do we really need? How could we gain evidence from different tasks? How could this be more equitable and accessible for all students?
  • How do we find a balance for students who will be finding themselves working more, either in essential jobs like the supermarket, or is equally essential but perhaps less recognised like looking after younger family members (or perhaps older). If students have picked up more hours (potential also supporting family who might have lost jobs) is it realistic to expect them to complete assessments?
  • What expectations will universities and polytechs be having around entrance requirements?
  • How can subject associations be utilised. I know that some have been active hosting webinars and such to support specific subject areas – how could this be supported?

The PPTA exec had also meet with NZQA and the ministry, and assured us that while they could not share specifics, these questions were all being talked through by those parties, who were working very hard to find some solutions. It was then asked that the PPTA keep pestering both the ministry and NZQA for update to limit the spread of misinformation (I’ll just add here if I have something wrong, please let me know and I will fix it ASAP. Always my interpretations!!)

3. Supporting teachers and students.

This was a big one. Round and round we went, thinking of all the diversity and richness that our education system has, but because of this there is no one stop solution. Some key ideas were

  • tens of thousands of students will not have access to online learning – either through lack of device, lack of infrastructure (rural properties or areas like northland with poor connectivity) or poverty. Some students biggest concern should not be learning, but finding a safe place to live during the lockdown! How do we support that. Again, I had a comment about schools giving devices, and then the ministry organising this too – how could we streamline this process. I also had an after thought concern about the MASSIVE amount of data being collected on families ability to connect – who has access and what will be done with it? It was also a pretty big ask for schools to collate that info on short notice – well done schools!
  • PLD – how much is too much? How much is too little? Where will people be overwhelmed? The PLD alloted for the DT/HM integration can be reallocated to providing online support for schools and kura (I am 99% sure this is the case) and there are some additional resources coming out. Is there double dipping occurring – not so much as people getting too much support, but too many people trying to do the same job, which creates inefficiency?
  • On this, what do teachers need? I’m sure lots of you have seen the fail work meeting were the person takes their laptop into the loo with the video on – how do we keep ourselves and our students safe? Not everyone has a seperate room in their house to work from. and some do not have good access to wifi either. Some homes the teachers TELA device might be the only device in the house that is needed to teaching and their students learning….
  • And more on the health and wellbeing, some will be balancing their own needs as well as child care or looking after other family members. Some will have essential workers in their homes and be anxious about them. What are realistic expectations here?
  • And looking forward, realistically we will not be coming out of level 4 into level zero. There will be (possibly, it really is unknown) level 3, or 2, where some teachers will not be able to come into classrooms, either due to their own vunerability or the vunerablity of those they care for. How will this look moving forward. Some schools were already looking to roster home age groups the week lock down was announced…. how can we balance the health and safety of all our teachers (and learner – some students won’t be able to come back either!!) with the work loads and well being of the teachers who can attend school. How will relievers who often move between schools, or itertinarent music teachers be supported?

Lastly linked to this, there was a suggestion that the PPTA produce some ‘documentation’ around some keeping yourself safe and some ‘how to’s’ for teachers. We had robust discussion about how this might look, given the wide range of devices, LMS, expectations and digital fluency levels of teachers in NZ – it was decided it would be useful rather than overwhelming but pitch and timing would be important. If you are a PPTA member, and on the facebook group, you can head over there, find the post from Matt and type in any suggestions.


So lots of questions, and not many answers! We do live in uncertain times. I do know however that there are teachers working super hard the country over to keep themselves well, and that we will find a way through. AND while it is sometimes hard to remember, there are groups of people working hard to help too.


Posted in Professional learning, random ramblings, Teaching and Learning

Giving feedback/feedforward: Upping my game with Microsoft forms

A focus for me this year (and really every year!!) is around getting useful information on where my students are at, and making sure the feedback is useable, useful AND not lost. I have tried various methods for this in the past, and one of the best methods I have found is taking an image of a hand written exam question, popping it in to powerpoint and recording myself marking it. This works well in terms of right then, and for students as individuals, but is a little difficult to track a class as a whole. So this term I am trying to use Microsoft forms and quizes for checkpoints, and then using the feedback feature. Students can see this at the time. I can see if a whole class has missed a key idea, or just a few individuals and so plan revision accordingly. If students pick the wrong answer, they get instant feedback as to why. But then I can download the student responses from the microsoft form into an excel spreadsheet, and mail merge them so each student can also get an individual sheet of their results and the feedback they were given. I can then pop these docs into their class notebook sections (still love me some onenote!!) via teams (I’m still working on a faster way to do this! any ideas welcomed)

So far it has worked well

I can still see how the class as a whole has answered certain questions


Students who got an answer wrong can get (hopefully helpful) feedback on why that answer wasn’t the best choice

instant feedback

I can click on review responses to give individual feedback to students, which they can access by re clicking on the form. I can grade (I usually don’t bother, but the option is there) and comment on individual answers.


And then I can take the data from the excel spreadsheet and using mail merge make a page with the students answers and my feedback (I’ve generally just picked the longer answers for this – the short answer questions get the instant feedback). It did take a couple of goes to get my ‘template’ working, as the questions from the quiz did not show up in the merge, only the answers.

Once you have the documents, you can either email them to the students (their emails are saved with their responses in the form) or print the pages to onenote (I’m still looking for a faster way to do this than one by one)

I have done this a couple of times now, and have been getting faster each time. I’m certainly appreciating that I have access to feedback given to students, and being able to track progressions more closely. There is also a slight element of accountability, I can show that students have or haven’t completed set tasks, and I have (or haven’t) given them feedback on next steps.

Students have found the system easy enough to use, and have been reasonably receptive to the idea. So, so far, it has been a success. Fingers crossed it stays that way

Have fun


Posted in Digital Technologies, random ramblings, Teaching and Learning

Giving Yr 9 digitech a go

This year I have been tasked with teaching Yr 9 digitech. Which has been a real challenge, but hopefully I’ve now got a handle on what we are doing. I have leaned really heavily on the AMAZING Gamefroot resource at that Dan Milward and Gerard Macmanus put together, it was a real life saver for me as a non-specialist.

The course itself is a compulsory module that runs for 3 hours a week for 10 weeks. But, as with any school, by the time you factor in the odd public holiday, athletics day or camp, we have budgeted on about 26 hours of class time. A open book of do what you like was given. So after having a think, both about what I am comfortable with, and managing the work load, game design as a context was picked, and we are focusing on outcome design and evaluation, as well as Technological modelling.

tech curric 1


We (a colleague is teaching the other class running in parallel) started with a fairly simple lets learn some things about games, about formatting, and about algorithms. We snuck in some hour of code in week 2 as it was a useful activity as we had different groups of students out for various camps and orientation events which then didn’t end up happening because if the weather!

tech curric 2

My colleague was very proud of the horrendously awful doc he made for the students to reformat!! And the students generally did a very good job of spotting most of the errors. We gave them the doc via an assignment in teams.

tech 3

And now we are in to the task. I really like the idea in the Gamefroot game design about incorporating a New Zealand myth or legend, but wondered how I could make it more local. So we have set the students the challenge of making a game to teach myself and Mr G the local place names around the Taieri Plains.

tech 4

We decided to include the history as well as place names in English and Te Reo, because there are several mountains named for Cheifs, as well as street names and park names that are linked to early settlers to the area.

And what they need to do.

tech 5

We decided that the games could be physical board or card type games because while their might not be a direct ‘coding’ aspect, students still need to look for patterns, write algorithms or instructions and extend ideas, as well as use a mixture of inputs. And there is the block coding component, which could be a dice on a microbit. Or perhaps the coding used to build a world in minecraft.

The students have been set this as an assignment in teams, and the whole doc is formatted so the title page is interactive so they can click to where they need to be

tech 6

Students can work individual or in twos/threes (a 4 was split into 2 pairs!) Each group has been assigned a private channel in teams, so that they can work together but I can keep an eye of them.


The elevator pitches will be completed using flip grid, so that students who are uncomfortable sharing up front don’t need to, but also it means that feedback can be placed by multiple people which will assist meeting the responding to feedback requirements.

The check points will hopefully help students scaffold their project, and give me evidence of planning

tech 8

If you are interested, here is a link to the whole doc (let me know if it doesn’t work for you)

We are also super lucky that our amazing Librarian Lauryn came to my rescue when I was panicky about how to support the students with their research of place names. She deflt provided me with two books on the history of the Taieri Plains, one including some excellent maps. So this has made life so much easier. The fabulous Lauryn also suggested having a show case of the games in the library at the end of the module, perhaps with some other games in her collection, so we will be working through this to make it happen.

So, students were given the task last week. Already they have started exploring and planning what they can do. Some are wanting to use Minecraft, others are using scratch, a pair is planning to make a Taieri Monopoly, while another group of girls who are into Saloon car racing are thinking of a racing game. Some were just spending some time thinking about what games they had played before that had maps so they could explore them. After being so nervous, it was a positive start. Hopefully the students have some fun, learn some things, and we make it to the end of the module in one piece.

Have fun and wish me luck.


Posted in Uncategorized

How do I care but not care…. and trying to find a way through.

For the past two year, I have co-taught a yr 7 digitech module. The first year we (wrongly) based it around the progress outcomes for the new New Zealand digitech curriculum. Last we  were ‘encouraged’ to teach the technology standards (posts HERE and HERE) during the module. When it came time for the 2020 timetabling, I found I was timetabled into the yr 7 module, which meant I couldn’t teach junior (yr 9 or 10) science. Which I was gutted about. So I set off to talk to both my HoD and the Tech HoD, and said very politely I did NOT want to be teaching technology please, I struggled to get my head around the technology standards, and I really LOVE teaching science.

So then it was a real downer when I found myself in the yr 9 digitech module instead. With a second year teacher who has also not taught digitech (or any technology for that matter) teaching the other module. So not only was I not trained, had said I didn’t want to, I had received no PLD funded by my school for teaching technology and my self funded PLD around incorporating digitech into the science curric was not designed nor meant to have me teaching a technology course, I found myself in charge of a course, and supposedly supporting a beginning teacher to also teach it. With an expectation that I would rejig the course to be more inline with the new standards.

Which is really where my post about aiming for not bad comes from. Because even with this mindset, I have already sacrificed MANY more hours than this course than I ought to have, which is 15% of my working week when you break it down. I feel my other course, which not only should take more of my time, but I am infinitely more passionate about, have suffered because I simply have not had the time to put in to them. I had to throw my toys to get meetings I needed. I have had to use the systems in place with the specialist classroom teacher and the SLT. I have not had another meeting scheduled by the people that get paid more than me to check in. I am not able to attend meetings because I am mostly based in the Science curric area and need to be at those meetings. I got sent screen shots rather than documents from people unwilling to share. Because I was placed in this course, others were moved out, and there did not seem to be any process around this. Which was hard and created conflict. Which was not of my making and I was stuck in the middle. And now, I have essentially handed another teacher an entire course built from scratch by me despite the unwillingness of others to do the same to help me.

Which makes me cross, because it is not my course. It should be collaborative, and equitable. But this whole process has been the exact opposite. And I feel like it has really impacted my levels of happiness in a profession and how I am choosing to work. Past Rachel NEVER would have said I handed some-one a course of mine.

So how do I fix this?

Because in this job, it seems that you give and you give and you give, and it is never enough. There is always something more that could be done, something more to tweak, another student who needs help.

I am watching people, and not just in my school, crack and sometimes break under pressure. I have watched so many teachers fly away from the job over a number of years. I am seriously pondering a move myself, a friend is a teacher in Melbourne were she is paid more and the houses are cheaper (in the burbs to be fair).

I’m trying desperately to remember I need to work to my own standards, not that of those around me. I need to remember that money and units is not always an indication of peoples worth. That I work for me, not what others opinions of me is.

I am trying desperately to remember that I do enjoy my job. I enjoy young people, their energy, enthusiasm, their courage, and their sometimes blatant daft behaviour as they grow into interesting and diverse people.

I am trying desperately to enjoy teaching kids about the world around them, to be curious and critical, to challenge and to understand the building blocks of the world around us.

I am trying desperately hard to remember I like setting things on fire! And seeing students faces when they make a connection, or are in awe of a practical.

I am saying practical things like it will be better next term once I’ve done the module through once. It will keep getting better. I can critique and improve. The kids don’t know any better.

I am trying desperately to avoid going in all guns blazing, because I want to do this well. I am trying to remember the cost to other things I value more. Trying to avoid the well bugger them, I’ll just smash it attitude. Because, in the end, the only person that smashes is me.

Teach me to care and not to care

Teach me to be still







Posted in Professional learning, random ramblings

Flow charts using smart art in Microsoft Word – or you don’t know what you don’t know.

I recently asked for some help (boy do I need it) on how to scaffold planning for practice and outcome design and development for the digitech course I am teaching this year. It is a massive learning curve. I was hoping to get a ‘generic’ plan, which was not forth coming. (although I did get some useful ideas, but I still need to build my own) One teacher said he got the students to make their own using smart art in Microsoft word, which is part of our office 365 package. He gave me a quick demo, and I was blown away by how quick and easy the smart art tool was to use. I had previously been using to get students to draw flowcharts, but the smart draw in word in much simpler to use. You do need to be on the desktop version of word rather than the online/office 365 version to get the smart art option though. Things like dichotomous keys, practical pathways, next steps for A, M and E level answers, well the answer was already there in Microsoft word. They are perhaps a little generic , but in terms of ease, it is an absolute win! I was able to whip up a little flow chart to show file hierarchy in about 2 minutes….


So then I started having a little play, and it is super easy to change colours, fonts, add bits in and take bits out

chart 2

And you can save as a picture so they are easy to insert into other docs.

And this is a really good example of a little thing I didn’t know. And knowing that the smart art option had these would have saved me loads of time last year. I asked a few times on twitter and various PLNs about flow charting options, and no-one ever suggested this (possibly because lots of other NZ schools are google schools….).

And I guess too it is a reminder to place value on different skill sets. Not everyone has to teach things in the same way, or have the same way of getting to get things done. But this little tidbit that took 2 minutes to receive, was a real game changer for me. I wish there were more ways to share those little gems of knowledge we all have, that people simply don’t know they don’t know.

Have fun