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Saturday, May 26, 2012

New Adventure

We are off on an adventure!
Les & I will be heading to Tunisia in a few weeks time. We will be living in La Marsa, Tunis. We have new teaching positions at the International American Cooperative School in Tunis.

Les will be the Principal of the Elementary School and I will be teaching PE & Music - yep a job made in heaven for me.
If you want to know more about Tunisia then access this cool site and it tells all.

Also the update political and social happenings can be gained from this site Tunisia Live

It is my intention to update this blog as frequently as I am able to so family, friends and those who wish to know can keep abreast of what we are up to. I will also endeavor to post photos & video when possible.
We are very excited about our "Golden Oldie O.E" and hope that friends & family may have the opportunity to visit us if they are in the area.

I would like to personally thank all those who have positively supported me over the past few years. I have sailed through some choppy waters (some of it due to my own churning) but you very special friends have still been there when it mattered. Never to be forgotten. Kia ora!

So please take the opportunity to link up and make comment. We will miss our family and friends- but in reality we are only a keyboard away.

Aroha & keep smiling!

Here is a snippet of our experience in Tunisia so far....

Friday, December 30, 2011

New Beginnings..

So, we are seeing off the tail end of 2011 and stepping forward into the next year.
The bygone year was certainly a revitalising one for me, personally. It started with a couple of quakes - earth-wise and inner-space wise.
The inner-quakes were the ability to cope with the challenge of dealing with a loved one's battle against cancer. The inner strength shown by Lesley, in her will to overcome this dreaded demon, was inspiring. It made me realise if you live by your true desire you can beat the odds.
The second inner quake was the ultimate realisation that if you find the true level of your aptitude and place your values in making this work for you then you will achieve the altitude you are aiming for.
The answer to this riddle of thought is simply that I made a decision to be a classroom teacher and although I was confident I could achieve at this level, I did have self doubt before the year began. I was fortunate to have a flexible learning environment and creative people around me but I now know where my true niche for the future lies for me. Many thanks to those who helped make this happen.

The year ahead brings on new exciting challenges.
I am again fortunate where I have been given the opportunity to teach in a vibrant learning environment. Luke and the Summerland team have some very special skills and an approach that I am sure will enhance my own quality as a learning coach.
I used to smirk at the phrase ' lifelong learner' as a glib expresson for those who were indoctrinating the holy curriculum. But in reality I now see the real value it does have when you open your inner heart, soul and mind to what you really want to be.
I guess for so long I set my sails on the direction of where one should sensibly head. I am glad that I am now taking the journey where I feared to tread beforehand because of  commitments, money, career, ego etc etc etc.
To feel you are really making a difference to others around you and to yourself is certainly the most valuable reward one can gain.
I am not one for new year resolutions but my attitude and aptitude at the moment are certainly at the right pitch for me to sing at the highest altitude.
Top goals for 2012:
  • Be the youngest & fittest 60 year old on the block
  • Bring back the music to my life
  • Be the best learning coach possible
  • Beat a couple of old crony mates at golf
  • Be a great friend, mentor and lover for those that matter (and in the context that is appropriate )
  • Skydive - the next best to knowing how Superman feels
  • Keep seeing the wonders of the world through my new found vision... (bit deep that one)
  • Be someone worth being around....(that is being true  to thine-self Fletchy)

So, looking forward to 2012 and the adventures ahead. I have a feeling I will  be living my dream!

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

What a year !

Wow... that was a year that was!

It started with me taking on a new lease in life - back to being a classroom teacher. I must admit I was anxious to start with but the understanding and skills came back to me as the year went on. Many thanks to my very kind friend John Petrie for giving me the opportunity to test the water. Anyway the year in the teaching frame has been a wonderful lease of life for me. It's like I discovered the fountain of youth again.
However not all was bliss at the start of the year. Lesley and I were smacked in the heart when we found out she had a cancerous growth that was life threatening. My heart goes out to anyone who has been through this nightmare. I really had no idea what a challenge it was until it became personal. I guess I was a little blaze because  certain elders in our life took this on and kept their cool and got on with life. I never imagined the scary feeling when it is your best loved one & mate who is in that place. Anyway we drew strength on that fact and my lovely Lesley was so brave & determined. What a magic lady!
Anyway we beat that beast ! Thanks to all those who were there for Lesley when the going got tough.
So then we got on with life again after the darkness and decided to grab some light.
At that time the terrible earthquake hit Ch Ch. We wish we could have been there in person for our family down there but I guess you will understand we had our  own quake !
We had a wonderful family holiday during the Easter Break. Those Grandchildren of ours are certainly very special in their individual ways. Absolutely magic ! Les and I had so much enjoyment being with them- the best tonic ever.
So then we were into the rugby season. I am trying not to be biased and those that know me well will appreciate I am always harder on my kids than anyone else but Nick was  a star for the Orewa First Fifteen. It is was a pity he was injured at a time when they needed him and the coaching game plan was shoddy. But no excuses he gave us great pleasure in his games and it will be a memory I personally will cherish.
The next momentous occasion was the 50th wedding anniversary of Eunice & John. What can we say about these two wonderful people. In the relatively short time I have been part of the Tait dynasty I would like to say how fortunate I am to be involved in such a magic family. The reason why is Grandma & John. They rock to us all and to be there to celebrate their union of half a century was very special. Hell even our cricketers don't achieve that !
The next big occasion was the Rugby World Cup. Now I must admit I was a bit lukewarm on this because I thought it would be a commercial overplay.
Les & Nick convinced me to go to Auckland to enjoy the fanfare of Opening Night. I was reticent & guess what it was a disaster - because of my lack of love for crowds.
However we went to a couple of games - thanks to Les & Nicks persistence and it was great. I guess the real cream on the pudding was when a blast from the past FB' me and said Fletch - I have a ticket to the final are you interested. Well ????? I couldn't really afford it but my very good friend Phil Olsen subsidized the cost and it was all on. A plus was that a certain cheeky Welsman by the name of Daniel Pugh Jones- both from a place I hold dearly to my heart- arrived as well. The story that unfolded was pure Hollywood. I was introduced to heaven ! Thanks guys lots of memories and affirmation that I made a difference in Wales during my time there. I shall return soon!
Now here comes a real wow!! My lovely Lesley decided she would join a group of self masochistic women and run over the North Island mountains. Absolutely nuts!!
But Les ran the 21 kms over The Mt Ruapahue - Tongariro ridges in 4hrs 35 mins. Quicker than I played 18 holes of golf. Now that puts it in perspective...  simply amazing. 
So we move onto the final curtain. Ha ha!
Ups for young Nick - our amazing son. He was accepted at the CPIT in Chrstchurch. Now those in Cantab know all about shakes  but this has really has rocked us.
Out of a group acceptance of 20 per year Nick cut the chase. He has had this dream for a long time and he achieved it. The thing is he made the opportunities happen - no luck or who your parents are. He did it himself. I admire him so much and this is the best Xmas present Les & I could have had. I would like to thank all those influential people who have helped make this happen. You know who you are and Kapai!!
So now we move onto the festive season. It has been a challenging yet fruitful year for us. We should reflect on those living in Christchurch because you guys still have much to deal with and we admire your staying power so much. We love you and hope the future will bring better fortune.
To our immediate clan - Merry Xmas and a wonderful New Year in store [ power of positive thinking guys!] 
Love you all...
Dave, Lesley & Beazley.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Yo - has it been that long since I have had the desire / time to pontificate on the matters that be? Just as well because maybe I have kept out of trouble??
I have some positive news!
My tenure at GHS has sadly come to an end. Unfortunately my very good pal JP had nothing to offer for 2012. He needs to build the school for the future and I am sure he has the the best interests for GHS in mind- as he always does.
Anyway .... so I was looking for somewhere where I could continue to enhance my street cred and skills at the frontline  and be in a place where I really wanted to bounce out of bed to be at!
Fate is a wonderful catalyst... it so happens an opportunity came up at this other simply amazing learning environment.. a great school visioned by wonderful minds and determination. Yep - I  will have the privilege to be a teacher at Summerlands Primary next year, So looking forward to it!
This is all in my plan to be the most knowledgeable, up to date, realistic educational leader around. This plan may work or not - cos I am on the grey side of the moon but I am prepared to learn from these wonderful young guns. GHS has given me a kick start already. Ka pai!
I believe I was always a fairly good teacher who somehow became an administrator because nobody else was up to it. Unfortunately in my past that made you a Principal. It was never truly my forte'. I love being directly involved with kids and vibrant educators. Ok- so I have returned to my niche. Thing is it is certainly more demanding being a classroom teacher these days. They are our modern day heroes, if they do it well. Hell.... such a level to step up to. You know... I am buzzzzzzed by the challenge.
It is so good to be positive about our profession.
 It is all about the kids! I will say no more ......
In the meantime ... wow - bring it on!

Monday, July 25, 2011

Generation Y - a rewarding challenge?

It has been some time since I have had the time to put fingers to keyboard on this blog.

I am certainly enjoying my shift in the personal challenge of being a frontline educator again. In fact my mindset about teaching has been given a realistic jolt.
The reason being is that I perhaps underestimated the demand of Generation Y.

The Millenium Generation or Gen Y ( those born 1980 - 2000) have never known a world without computers or the Internet. They are sometimes referred to as the digital natives. My youngest son is in this fold.
They tend to be global in outlook and very accepting of differences. However they are also used to instant gratification, multitasking and can certainly present classroom challenges such as inattentiveness, social conflict and reliance on technical devices.

In my experience in returning to the 'whiteboard jungle' I have found teaching definitely needs to be highly interactive. The use of YouTube and web based resources is imperative. The attention span of the students today rarely exceeds 30 mins so your programme needs to be varied and  purposeful.
I have found the visual stimulation you provide is a key for rich discussion and critical thinking and  learning engagement.

Group work can be highly successful with G-Y kids because they enjoy this aspect of learning socialisation. I believe too often many have been afflicted with the TV/ Computer as their way to link with others.

However I found that roles within the group need to be clearly defined or there can be chaos!
A group leader and recoder needs to be identified and direction in possible causes and solutions needs to be offered. I have also found that varying group structures within the class from whole class, to small group, to peer learning provides invaluable variety.

For me, being the 'guide by the side' is the catalyst for allowing students to learn by discovery. Allowing students to solve a dilemma or reflect on a possible solution, with your quiet overseeing from behind, has merit. So often I see students being given worksheets and organisers but with little input from the teacher ?
Hang on isn't that why we are there in the first place??? That's another blog in he making......

I often present students with a vocabulary immersion before embarking on an inquiry or research activity. I find this provides the " spark plug" in preparing students thinking and also gives a platform for common speak.

The use of technology and " cloud power" allows students to reflect, discuss and share their thoughts in a way they know and feel is purposeful.
Digital games certainly have their place in reinforcing and stimultaing the minds of our students of today. It is even more powerful if we relate it to the learning experiences we as teachers are focussing on. Just ask Robbie Deans & Wayne Smith why they promote their lads to engage in the PS digital arena of their game!
Engaging the attentionof G-Y kids is an interesting challenge as they are used to having information from a wide range of resources.

Yep, teaching has changed dramatically in the past few years and as a reborn guide on the side this has indeed been a revelation. But bloody great fun!
The most enlightening thing for me is that in these times as a teacher you are learning with the kids - it's a true learning partnership.
How good can it get!

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

The Magic Moments of the School Camp

Outdoor Education school camps are an awesome experience. I can't even count on my fingers & toes those I have been involved in but each one brings with it special memories. I have recently returned from a Year 6 camp with GHS and it was a real buzz. It is so rewarding being with the kids in an outdoor environment where we are challenged to take risks and trust one another. As an adult you learn about yourself and I am sure as a child the experiences add to their learning growth.
It is interesting though that in this modern day environment, as a teacher, you take on so much responsibility. Kids today are very spontaneous and there are not the boundaries for most, in the open spaces, they are used to. You never know when they may make a choice that is inappropriate. If they do then you have to take the the flak.
I hope though that the powers that be and the ridiculous PC that is creeping into society doesn't suffocate this wonderful opportunity for our kids.
I feel already we are watering down the the real life challenges we should be giving our 'Kiwi kids' that in the past have made us a special nation. But that is another issue!

Sitting down with a child on the jetty, fishing, or walking side by side on a bush track adds another dimension to the relationship you have. It is indeed very special. We need to do this more often as I feel kids and adults today do not make the time for this anymore.
I applaud those many teachers and parents who are prepared to give their personal time and energy to make School Camps so special.

Friday, April 29, 2011

Learning signposts

I have had a wonderfully refeshing break over Easter.
It was not only a fabulous opportunity to catch up with family (esp the Grand-kidlets) but also to take time for reflection and goal setting.
I am really looking forward to getting back with the kids in Room 25 on Monday. This term will be one of plenty of variety and challenge. One special aspect I am particularly looking forward to is the cementing of the Habits of Mind learning philosphy I am striving to imbed in our learning culture. I have found this to be an extremely powerful platform in my teaching approach. It not only provides common purpose in our learning but also a language we can all relate to and share in our learning.
The students have been very receptive to this learning approach and I have seen their effective learning habits strengthen. The Habits of Mind reflect the NZ curriculum key competencies with clarity and I have found I can infuse them comfortably into all learning areas.
I will be experimenting further with the use of the Habits of Mind during this term with the objective of developing comprehensive guidelines for effective classroom practice so perhaps others may share in the gems I am discovering.
Check out the Habits of Mind page on our class website. 
I would also like to share this special mini movie I made while on holiday with the G-kidlets. Hey! This is the real joy of living in this particular era!!