Posted in NAPP2016, random ramblings, Teaching and Learning


This year, and hopefully from here on in, I am a learner formally known as a teacher.

I don’t teach Chemistry or Science, I help people learn about Chemistry and Science and all sort of things, and I also learn from them. I want to learn how to help them better. I want to learn how to help my colleagues better, and learn from them how to do this. I have signed up for some courses to help me think about this. I am doing some reading and when I can, engaging in conversations around learning and leading.

Tonight I learned about bureaucracy and due process. From a frank but provoking twitter conversation about how to implement change. I learned that to change a system, you do need to be participating in that system. Most importantly, I learned that people are willing to help you, but you still need to learn their ways of doing things and find the right words.

Change is hard. Sure, it is certainly harder for some than others. The more change you want, it takes more effort to shift it. I want to change how parts of NZ education think about ‘e-learning’.

I think the current approach to ‘e-learning’ (especially for teachers – and teacher devices) is outdated and damaging. We need more support for ‘teachers’, in regards to professional learning opportunities, device selection, learning spaces and development of the skills we are trying to embed in out students. How can students learn how to collaborate when the ‘teacher’ isn’t….

So, I think we need to change. I am changing what I can, starting with how I see myself. I am a learner who is always looking to learn about better ways to do things.

Hopefully, what I have learn tonight will help others. But if it doesn’t, I have still learned something I didn’t know. I have learned about myself and others. About processes and policies. I am sure I will learn more about these too…



Posted in NAPP2016, Professional learning, random ramblings

What’s up 2016?

It would be fair to say at the end of 2015 I needed a holiday like I have seldom needed a holiday before. I was shattered. Bone crushingly exhausted. I didn’t mark thank goodness and basically spent a week on the couch doing not much of anything. Slowly it felt like I came to life, going for some walks, catching up with friends, doing the Christmas thing. All to soon for me, January is here.

I had Hands on at Otago last week which really deserves a post in itself. An AMAZING week with stellar young people, diverse challenges and some really cool Sciencey stuff. It kicks starts my year into a sort of manic craziness.

As I prepare for my first day back tomorrow (I don’t have a class till next Thursday…. but department meetings, helping with new staff orientation etc….) I am struggling to remain even remotely calm about the year ahead. I have a lot on, both within school and out of it. Mr 3 and Mr35, ERO, NAPP, a new role at school, a mixed level Chem class, buying and selling houses, Hands on at Otago, MIEE, surface stuff, #scichatNZ, conferences, hopefully an educamp or two are all the immediate things that spring to mind. Which are completely manageable…… I just have to be organised and make time.

Above all, I want to avoid being busy.


At the end of last year, I was so busy doing little things I really did lose site of the bigger picture. I got busy helping other people all the time instead of doing the best job I could. I got stretched in all sorts of directions – which I think it really difficult for teachers to manage as we do want to help everyone.

So rather than being busy, I want to be purposeful.


I want the time I spend doing things to mean something. For me, my family, my students or colleagues, or for someone. I’m going to go on a rampage against meaningless tick boxes tasks (within allowances I guess, I still need to do my job….sadly much of my job feels like ticking boxes at times) and make sure my lessons are purposeful.

I’m also going to keep being brave. I’m getting braver – this is the year I think to really challenge myself into backing myself and standing my ground a bit more. I have developed a ‘ask for forgiveness’ model that has worked pretty well for me, but I need to get better at being more explicit about what I am doing.


So bring it 2016. Lets see what we can do 🙂




Posted in NAPP2016

Distributive Leadership

Love this post on leadership from Sonya – am going to need to get my hands on her references to have a read

Sonya @VanSchaijik

Hellen Keller said, ‘The world is moved along, not only by the mighty shoves of its heroes but also by the aggregate of the tiny pushes of each honest worker.

In Samoa we have a saying: “O Manu o le lauamanu e felelei mamao” meaning ‘Birds that fly together go far.’


I have selected to evaluate distributed leadership. As I researched background information when I supported a principal friend of mine on his assignment, the works of Gronn, Splianne and Elmore confirmed my beliefs of leadership experience within my current and previous positions. Previously, I have held a variety of teacher leadership roles. These have included:

  • School Lead Teacher for the 2001 and 2010 Information and Communication Technology Professional Development (ICTPD) contracts
  • Director of Religious Studies in a Catholic school
  • Steering committee member for national conferences
  • Webmaster for two educational associations
  • Executive member for ULIMASAO Bilingual Teacher’s Association

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Posted in NAPP2016, Professional learning

Follow the leader…..

Lately I have been thinking a lot about how to ‘lead’. What it means to be a ‘leader’, or what is my ‘leadership style’. I’m toying with the idea of doing some ‘educational leadership papers’ or perhaps a masters. What could I do  to improve my performance as a leader, what expectations do people have of leaders and why on earth would I want a leadership position when all anyone I know in a leadership position seems to do with deal with issues all the time.  So what separates management and leadership?

My hubby (who does have his uses) put it like this

‘Leadership is leading people, management is managing things. So if you are managing people, you are treating them like things.’

He picked this up from some leadership courses he has attended in his role at his work. Which possibly is a whole other blog post on professional learning and leadership training in schools – he works in a commercial environment and has PD on this 2-3 times a year… I’ve had no ‘formal’ training other than a seminar or two at ulearn and what I have read and found online.

Leadership is a strange word and an almost unmeasurable quality. In New Zealand, we would (somewhat sadly……) think of sports people as leaders. Ritchie McCaw and Brendon McCullum are two current leaders in the sport world who have gained international respect for their roles leading the countries rugby and cricket teams. Casey Kopua might get a mention in the netball circles, or Lydia Ko for kicking arse at golf.

I then got to thinking about the difference between managing and leading. What do I want people to think about my leadership? Am I a leader at all….. How can I best fill my new role of ‘leading’ professional learning around IT for next year.

Searching it up didn’t help either… a range of quotes from the super to the strange, a variety of definitions, lots and lots of (and then loads more) papers I could take on educational leadership….. but really it lead to more questions than answers.


this quote for example – I really like it, but do I need knowledge to be a leader? Some for sure, but if I want to model that I am learning too, how much knowledge is too much? Communication though is a must, I have been very frustrated with lack of communication from multiple ‘leaders’ over the years.

A conversation with teachy friend I have enormous respect for (love your ways Nikkie) yielded these two clips



But I still don’t know what leadership is. I have a fairly good idea of what it isn’t – perhaps a little of the scientific method needs to be applied as I work my way through possibilities.

So as I continue to think about ‘leadership rolls’ for my future in teaching, I want to start putting more thought into how I can be a effective and communicative leader. I am really looking forward to the aspiring principals course next year (not that I want to be a principal….. but I do want some advice and ideas on leading change within a school) and I am sure it will stretch and mould my ideas around leadership and strategies.

But I also need to get off my butt and have a bit more confidence in myself… is it a kiwi thing to lack confidence and not want to be the tall poppy? Why do we so often mistake confidence for arrogance, or fear that other people will make that call. How can I make sure I am a ‘non threatening’ leader? Or to be effective, do you need a little bit of threatening in there too?

So I am taking my first reluctant baby steps into leadership. I find it strange that I have been willing to lead things so long as I hold no responsibility for them. Now the responsibility has come and I need to step up.

If only I knew what leadership was…….