Friday, April 3, 2020

Doing the Rounds ...

This status post has been doing the rounds on FB.  I don't know who to attribute it to, but will do a search and see if I can find out.  It seems like a reasonable summary - but I might try and annotate it with some more notes later.

Covid 19 started in Wuhan, China at a seafood market. Hundreds of thousands affected, dead, dying, critically ill although  many any recovered. Most death in the over 70 group or those with underlying health issue.
As of today Friday 3rd April 2020 New Zealand has been in stage 4 lockdown for 10 days.
Government closes the border to every one but returning New Zealand nationals/residents and makes it mandatory to self isolate for 14 days for anyone enters the country. Those without an isolation plan are put into lockdown in hotels.  Panic buying set in during stage 2, 3 and at the start of stage 4 we had no toilet paper, no disinfecting supplies, no paper towel no laundry soap, no hand sanitizer, no flour or yeast.
Self-distancing measures mean we must each stay in our "bubbles" consisting in households/people living together on 23.59 on Wednesday 26th March we were given 48 hrs notice.  Over 70's and those with underlying health issues or weakened immune systems told to self isolate for the duration of the lockdown where possible.  Tape on the floors at food supermarkets to help distance shoppers 2m (6ft) from each other.  Limited number of people inside stores, therefore lineups outside the store doors.
Non-essential stores and businesses, trades closed.  Supermarkets, pharmacies, dairies only shops allowed to open  Drs and Vets open but must phone ahead, many consultations via phone/skype etc
Those who are lucky enough to have a job that is able to be done from home without the need to have physical contact are able to continue to work.  Children's playgrounds, bush trails, water activities, visits to the beach, swimming pools, gyms are off limits.  Entire sports seasons cancelled.  Concerts, tours, festivals, entertainment events - cancelled.  Weddings, family celebrations, holiday gatherings - cancelled.  Funerals limited to only those within the deceased's bubble.  No religious services, churches, mosques, temples are closed.  Schools/daycare/uni's are all closed.  No gatherings permitted.
Not allowed to physically able to socialize with anyone outside of your bubble.  When we are at supermarkets,we are to maintain a distance from each other minimum of 2m.  Allowed outside for walks/cycling but must stay within their neighborhood and observe the 2m rule.
Shortage of masks, gowns, gloves for our front-line workers.
Around the World there is a shortage of respirators, hospitals, nursing staff and Dr's.  Wuhan, Italy, Spain, Iran, UK and USA are the worst hit so far with 1,014,673 infected Worldwide, 52,983 deaths with the youngest victim 6 weeks old. 210,335 recovered. The figures from around the World show a @10% mortality rate. China claimed only 3% mortality rate which is suspected to be incorrect possibly because many died before anyone knew what it was.
In NZ 772 infected and 1 death,103 recovered  Bubbles nominate someone as their design shopper  Supermarkets limit purchase of certain items to 2 per customer., distilleries and other businesses around the World switching their lines to help make visors, masks, hand sanitizer and PPE.
Phone and email addresses are set up for the public to report anyone breaking isolation rules, not paying workers their government subsidized wage or for those price-gauging others.  Press conferences daily from the Prime Minister.  Barely anyone in the street or on the roads.  People wearing masks and gloves outside.  Essential service workers are terrified to go to work.  Medical workers are afraid to go home to their families.
Those unable to work have $580.80 for fulltime/over 20hrs and $350 for those under 20 are paid to businesses by the government with employers paying workers 80% of their wage.
This is the Novel Coronavirus (Covid-19) Pandemic, which was declared March 11th, 2020.
Why, you ask, do I write this status? (I have copied this from Facebook)
One day it will show up in my memory feed, and it will be a yearly reminder that life is precious. To not take the things we dearly love for granted.
We have so much!
Be thankful. Be grateful.
Be kind to each other - love one another - support everyone. ❤️

Saturday, March 28, 2020

Finding our way

It is 7.18am.  Sunday 29th March.  I am perched at the breakfast bar (we hadn’t yet ordered a dining table pre this).  A normal Sunday morning for me would be a few of hours of focused school work whilst the kids watched cartoons/What Now – for me it means Saturday and the rest of Sunday are back to whanau.  Now I’m at a slight odd. 

New Zealand went into lockdown pretty much Monday afternoon it felt.  We had spent the Friday prior as a TOD where we had time to sort out packs/learning/computers for our learners ‘just in case’ this happened.  I had thought we’d limp along till Easter and then maybe be told after the holidays they were extended.  How wrong I was!

Monday rolled around, my juniors (y9) and I had a couple of goes on Google Meet – just in case.  We had Social Studies after lunch, and a few asked if they could listen to the PMs speech.   Ok – but headphones and no blurting out stuff – call me over!  The others wanted to keep working on their projects (and a few with anxiety I didn’t want to elevate!).  Within about twenty mins I knew something as up.

The DP came around and we were briefed on next steps.  I was thankful I had made the paper packs with journals (for them to record this experience in) and novels and write on pages.  They all were able to take their issued school devices home as well. 

Over Tuesday/Wednesday we were able to be in school without them as we needed – so odd – finalising the last things we needed to teach from home.  Thursday and Friday have been Google Meet classes, touching base, ensuring they have the links (literally) they need to keep on learning. 
And now it’s holidays.

And somewhere between this has been my other life as a Mum … with five kids at home.  My big ones have a device from school – and have loved the classroom Meets and projects.  Their teachers have been stunning! The three younger (y6/5/3) have wanted more device time but been given heaps of awesome home activities that we can do.  So far the favorite has been Go Noodle, Mathletics/Maths Buddy and coloring.  PE is our walk around the block after lunch.  They are going to miss that interaction with their friends/teachers over the next couple of weeks.

However, I’m thankful.  I’m thankful that our family moved into our new whare literally two weeks ago.  It would have been harder at the old place.  I’m thankful work has been supportive as DH and I split Tuesday/Wednesday while he sorted clients as well.  I’m super thankful for internet friends and colleagues– where now that support and contact is even more important.  I’m thankful for crazy little things like a dishwasher. 

I’m not the best at sitting still and being – even at the best of times.  I will learn.  We will find a new normal.  We will be.

Monday, March 23, 2020


When I started the year teaching the Year Nines dystopian writing and novels - I didn't expect to end up in the times where it feels like one.  Lots in my head - will do some proper processing and writing.  Off to work today to sort everything as per instructions - watch this space and if we can't be anything else, lets all be kind!

Sunday, October 13, 2019

Flashback ...

The wee school in the town up from us has had to deal with the tragic loss of a student over the holidays.  My closest friend here has had to support her daughter losing a best friend.  There are no words. 

Something about loss had me revisiting and thinking about those I miss the most at times.  I miss Sarah - the 21yr old me who was woken up by my parents and told my best best friend, only a week shy of 21, had been killed by a drugged up teen in a car on a straight road.  But most of all, I miss my Nana - the lady who was part of a trifecta of women who raised me.  Here is what I wrote for her funeral in January.  Rest easy.

Most of us here would know the Beatitudes in some way shape or form:
  • Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
  • Blessed are they who mourn, for they will be comforted.
  • Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the land.
  • Blessed are they who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be satisfied.
  • Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy.
  • Blessed are the clean of heart, for they will see God.
  • Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.
  • Blessed are they who are persecuted for the sake of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
If I could add to the Bible, I would add Blessed are the grandparents, especially my Nana.  I’m going to use grandparents here as I can’t speak of Nana without remembering Grandpa who passed 15 years ago as well.  I was amazingly blessed in that Nana and Grandpa took me in, not only during my university years, but most school holidays before that.  

Blessed are the grandparents who spoil and snuggle with you. 

Blessed are the grandparents who hug you and hold you and hope with you when life is difficult. 

Blessed are the grandparents who prayed for you – but not just prayed for you – acted on those prayers and supported you, driving down Island and packing you up and taking you back up North with them so you could achieve your dreams – even if you didn’t know they were your dreams yet.

 Blessed are the grandparents who pamper you – buying cocopops and tiny teddies for you even though you’re 18 and starting University.  Who had rice risotto with a couple of slices of bacon beside it waiting for you when you got home from a shift a KFC – and had washed the uniform from the day before as you only had two and tomorrow it was meant to rain.

Blessed are the grandparents who worry – I think Nana was most excited when she realised my restricted drivers license meant I’d have to be home by 10pm for at least 12 months.  And even a few years later – she would stay awake till I got home and knocked on the bedroom door to tell her I was back. 

Blessed are the grandparents who share, their homes, their hearts, their life skills – I’ve never looked at roses the same way after living with Nana – she shared her knowledge, her love and her passion about them with me.  Pretty much every early still Saturday morning during rose season we would be outside, me holding and pumping the backpack and her spraying.  I know where to cut them while pruning and whether I should be using copper or something else on them.  I can still visualise the deck outside the living room while I was there was filled with pots with rose cuttings covered in plastic breadbags while she propagated them with her brother Eddie. 

Blessed are the grandparents who hold onto and share their passions.  As long as I can remember, Nana painted.  They were hanging everywhere, in the conservatory in Millard Ave where I remember tea parties with Carmen and Theresa.   In my home my children are lucky enough to have hanging some of the paintings she did for me.  They are more than just pretty pictures, they are part of her heart and legacy – and inspire her greatgrandchild Anya – who loves color and drawing with a passion as well.  She’s proud to draw and paint ‘just like your nana mum.’ 

And finally, blessed are the grandparents who are brave and couragous – who stand up for their grandchildren and hold them tight, who tell them everything will be ok and life will pan out and that they are enough as they are. 

Words can’t say in public how much Nana meant in my life and to my life.  But from the bottom of my heart – thank you Nana for being the most important part of the tribe of women who raised me – it truly does take a village.

Sunday, September 22, 2019

Over the Block

Climbing over Writer’s Block

An amazing teacher posted an opportunity through on our email list – there were gaps in a short course for extension writers.  I was in like a shot.  The ability to get to third party professional instruction for seniors especially, only two hours drive away (vs nearly four hours to Christchurch or Dunedin), is very hard.  Usually I would have to budget a large amount the year before to ensure a visitor could come down, do half a day, stay overnight, do another half day and then travel back to their hometown.

Another school had engaged the Christchurch School ofWriters and very generously allowed us several spots in the afternoon as their seniors couldn’t make it due to exams.  Due to the very generous nature of my amazing colleagues, we managed to get internal cover, and I set off after interval with six writers.

I’m not sure who enjoyed the afternoon the most – them or I?  The presenter ran us through four different writing genres and activities in the course of two and half hours.  He read us examples and led us through exercises before we had some creative constraints put in place.  Apart from the last very different genre, which was really difficult (writing without the letter E) I felt the cathartic peace of actually taking the time to write wash over me.  Even with the creative constraints, as my pen started to move. 

For the first exercise the teacher had us move into a space where we could imagine the sea and all that goes with it.  We then listed about fifty words on the board that spoke of ‘our’ collective seascape.  The constraint then came – we couldn’t use those words.  Here is my piece – in its raw state:

By the Sea

The long and winding road led me back again.  Sand and surf beckoned as the car edged over the last hill.  

The turnoff.  
The RSA.  
The Z station.  
Turn left then second on your right.  

They tumbled from the car like eager puppies, yapping about who would sleep where and with whom.  I stood.  The ghosts of yesterday held hands around the bach.   Poppa and Nana, slight shades of grey, tucked into the porch arm in arm.  

I still stood.  

The feijoa tree was discovered to gleeful yells.  The tents tumbled from the open boot.  Again, eager voices edges closer to me.  The ghosts smiled at me and I smiled back.  

A step.  
Pull back the manhole.  
Reach in and grab the keys.

Back for the summer.

Image result for waihi beach
Waihi Beach 

Friday, August 16, 2019

Listening to my own Lesson

The last thing I wrote about was resilience.  I am still coming back to that word.  I think I need to develop it further.

The last week, if I’m brutally honest, has been tough.  I’ve had that sort of cold where you’re ill enough to feel like crap, but it’s a virus, so nothing is going to shift it but time, and you’re not ill enough to stay home hunkered in bed.  Not to mention with five kids, sick days are guarded for times they are puking or highly feverish.  So, powering through.  Pretty sure I wasn’t contagious – lots of hand sanitizer and absolutely no coughing near students – as much as you can – although classes this week seemed spotted with kids out with a similar virus.

I reckon when your physical wellbeing is down – your mental wellbeing takes a hit as well.  I had several things happen that actually in the bigger scheme of things were out of my circle of control.  I (and hubby) had to deal with them, and we’re happy with how they were dealt with, but added another layer to an already layered week.

What bought it all back together nicely was the Friday last block.  At our kura we’ve taken the 3a period on a Friday and are focusing on the 5 ways to Wellbeing.   It is part of the bigger focus for our Kahui Ako as well.   All teachers of Y11-13 at that time work together to create a programme for our seniors.  Currently we start as a larger group then split into smaller groups.  I am a firm believer in affirmations – so yesterday took my group through some mindfulness exercises and then the process of building a page of affirmations or quotes they could hang by their study area or tape inside their locker/folder.  I showed them the quote that was in my diary:

Image result for i will breathe i will think of solutions
Taken from: Flicker - labeled to reuse.

We chatted and they started searching and we talked about how sometimes stopping and refreshing and taking notice and reminding yourself and affirming yourself is key to our wellbeing.  I think I needed my own lesson yesterday.

So – weekend plans.  Stop – be present with my family.  The snow is forecast, but we'll see where it brings us.  Maybe a rugged up walk.    Do something I enjoy (actually, making the time to write here  as well as other things - @Tania Roxborogh looking to you!).  Block out time for work so I am fully ready and rearing for next week (having an amazing time studying #Tuia250 with Y9/10) but other than that – family first, home first, wellbeing first.

Saturday, June 29, 2019



1.      1.
the capacity to recover quickly from difficulties; toughness.
"the often remarkable resilience of so many British institutions"
2.      2.
the ability of a substance or object to spring back into shape; elasticity.
"nylon is excellent in wearability, abrasion resistance and resilience"[1]                                    

I have been pondering this word for the past ten days or so since I got word that our Teacher Led Innovation Funding application was declined.  I get it – it is the last round and there are probably many many worthy applicants – but I couldn’t help but feel slightly crushed, not just for myself but for my colleague who had put in the bulk of the written application after all our Skype conversations. 

One of the comments that came back as feedback was there was not sufficient evidence that it was led by teachers for teachers (I’m assuming more teachers make changes = larger numerical student benefit).  The slightly cynical part of me was left wondering if we were from a bigger school/cohort, therefore able to have more teachers on board to start with – would it have made a difference.  Sure, we could have ‘proven’ we were impacting more teachers initially – but if our inquiry follows our hunch, it will be beneficial for both the teachers and students within our Southern Area Schools Kahui Ako and potentially beyond. 

So – what now?  Obviously we won’t have funding but we are still going ahead with our project, it will just be a scaled back and potentially longer timeline.  We have a SKYPE session with our inquiry facilitator early Term 3 to keep fleshing it out and ensuring we stay focused.  I have started changing my practice - part of that being using a wider variety of tech, such as Flipgrid with my students to reflect on their learning – and they know have learnt the WHY behind the choice to use those particular technologies.

DisruptEd the past two weeks has been prompting us to question the principles and mindsets required to deliver powerful learning.  I responsed to the question “What principles do you believe underpin powerful learning?” with he tãngata, he tãngata, he tãngata, - the people, the people, the people - by putting the learners first, the learning then become collaborative, it becomes accessible to all and authentic.   To this end, we will carry on and we will put our learners again in the center – changing our practice as needed to ensure positive outcomes, collaborative planning and real agentic learning for them. So – the link to resilience – I too need build the capacity and ability to move forward and bounce back after a disappointment – this isn’t the end of the world, it’s just a curve in the learning journey.