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Tuesday, 31 January 2017

Tēnā Koe, 2017

Tēnā koutou katoa.  Ngā mihi o te tau hou ki a koutou!  I hope this post finds you well and rested - that is, if you haven't started back with the kids yet - or in one piece after what might have possibly been your first day.

I am one of the teachers in the latter category.  I am sitting here in my brand new class, reflecting on my first day back after a year off on study leave.

I knew coming back would be hard.  But it really is like riding a bike.  A little wobbly at first as the muscle memory returns.  Oh that's right, I need to have pens ready.  Oh that's right, students tend to be a bit shy and a bit tired on day one.  I feel that!  After being a student again, I have come to appreciate how hard it it to actually be a learner.  To listen all day, think all day, contribute all day, worry, be in the right place at the right time, balance my desire to talk to my friends and the desire to do well with a new teacher - who I don't really know anything about.  The experience has definitely made me empathetic to the challenges of being a learner.

This year I am teaching a Year 7 and 8 class, and am aiming to enrich this class with as much Te Reo Māori as possible.  My personal inquiry is to see that if in empowering these students with cultural traditional knowledge and stories and thoughts, that they may see themselves as - to use the words of my new favourite Disney princess, Moana "Voyagers."  Capable of directing their learning and discovery in their own ways.  I think that some people might think this is fluffy stuff - but have you ever met an adult that didn't appreciate a curriculum or teacher that taught lessons that reflected who they were and where they came from?  In my experience, it can only do more good that if I didn't try.

So after an Auckland Anniversary day spent putting up bilingual signs around the class, and choosing my favourite waiata and karakia from my text book from last year, I was excited for welcoming in 30 tweens into my classroom this morning.

When someone asked me what I was 'trying' to do...bilingual unit, enrichment class, and other titles...I just responded that I am trying to do what I think every teacher in Aotearoa should be doing.  Enriching the lives of these students with understanding of our bicultural backgrounds and beliefs.  Putting into practice what I preach - that no one knowledge means more or is worth more than the other.

It will be a challenge.  I don't think I spoke enough reo today and it is so easy to fall back on what I feel is most comfortable.  So that's my future goal for this week...along with getting to know each student's strengths, interests, levels, habits...it an holistic approach after all!

So...I have some professional goals this year - what are yours?  What are you trying out, or what do you believe COULD work and do you need a colleague to say "Go for it?"  What area of school life are you trying to innovate, improve on, take a risk on?  I say:  Go for it.  Do it.  Take a risk.  And please share your learning journey!  To give others the confidence to try something new.

Kaua e mate wheke, mate ururoa.
Don't give up without a fight.  Fight til the death!  No one knows how far you'll go!

Personal side note:  I saw Moana three times at the movies and cried all three times and I can't express how much this movie made me think about the students I teach and how amazing they all are and that they should never believe anything less!