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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.
xxxxx

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 ......
http://youtu.be/PYVM8Ts6byo
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!!
video

Friday, March 25, 2011

Actions speak louder than words

It has been an interesting and gratifying week.
I have experienced a number of enlightening moments where it has resounded my belief that actions do speak louder than the verbal option.
It never ceases to amaze me how many of those in our society can influence the larger group by simply uttering the verbatim and then trusting the actions will happen. More often than not there is confusion,  lack of direction and ultimately very little real achievement.
I see that those whose light the fuse, throw the dynamite stick and then walk over to see the impact are the ones that truly make the difference.
This is so true in all we do in our every day lives.
Yes we can talk up our intentions and we can even pay the dues to be involved - but the real gem of success is taking the pain to get the gain! (My recent gym sessions are proving this to be true)
I have been so guilty of procrastination over the decades- and upon reflection shudder at the BS I convinced myself of and that this was the best intention.
If I look back deeply into when I really achieved then I would say that discipline, commitment, honesty with myself and belief in possibility of what could be- were the key ingredients- to making it happen.
This is the same with kids as well.
Just think.... if every kid at ten years old had these traits and carried them on until they were fifty... WOW !
Yep they would be the real winners in life.
Ok - so I am getting a bit deep but I felt I needed to put my fingers to keyboard so I could kick myself in the butt and remind myself of the values I have deep in my soul and draw upon them.
Maybe by reminding myself of these learning values I will be a better person for others.
Thats what really matters in life- please believe me !
Just take a lesson from another beached whale. Ha ha!
video

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

The half way mark!

video
No matter if it is a game or a set deadline in time. The half way mark always brings out the true resilience of the players concerned. Some tend to fold into... oh wo is me emotion ! Others say - the score is only 0-0 so lets pick up from here. When you throw all your energy into the first half it can be exhausting, especially if you need to prove your street cred.
But the secret is to take a breath, reflect and push for positive ( yep you educators out there let's wear that Yellow Hat)
Your personal energy and positive attitude of mind is so important when the chips are down.
If you believe in your ability to win- win and not be sidelined by the negatives ( oh we have so many black hat people in this world!)  Why is this???
 Be positive and to a point even if overly optimistic- then you will come out with personal success and gratification.
When I have not lived by this rule of thumb - I have blown it!
On the other hand when I have pushed to be positive, believed in myself and done the hard yards... guess what?  The jackpot spins!
You may say that is a gambler's attitude.
Life is a gamble so the way we play the cards is how we win the game.

Back to the half way line.

We feel exhausted - maybe losing the point of what or where we are at. Step over the line and go for the goalpost. Guess what you will probably get to your goal and the celebration will be that more satisfying. Just ask any AB (All Black) - they live by this mark in the sand.
No pressure guys - bring it on!
video
If you don't believe me watch the next game of rugby and see how the guys hug these days,
Being an old codger I am still coming to grips with is but can see the value!

Thursday, March 10, 2011

How good can it get?

Had a great day with the kids in my class today. They were focussed in their learning and enthusiastic in their engagement and responses. Truthfully, I would say not every day is like this and I challenge myself - why this is the case?
Some days I have been brilliantly planned (so I thought) -in my mind, and  at times, in written format, but the day that eventuated was crap. Other days I have thrown aside the planning and gone with with the gut feeling- and it has been magic. But that is more pure luck than good judgement.
In deep reflection I think it is about the 'karma'.
If you feel connected on the day then all around you is connected. Good planning  and resource helps this to happen to a certain extent but it is not guaranteed. This is true in aspects of coaching and learning leadership I guess?
Then, there is the " magic moment" factor.

video

When something arises that you can hook into and make a learning gem that will stay with those involved for a very long time, perhaps forever.
I have had ex students, team members and teachers I have been involved with point out to me -
" Fletch I remember when we did this.'.... and this has been several decades later. A powerful upper for any learning coach.
I ramble ..but the point I am trying to grasp is that learning cannot always been structured, planned or evolved from a plan or or objective. It certainly cannot be truely gauged from assessment or achievement outcome.
Real life learning comes from believing in yourself,  positive relationship experience and how we can adjust our thinking to meet the challenges ahead.
This cannot be fully coached or taught - it comes from taking the risks, sharing ideas and making sure the magic moments are well imbedded in our souls.
If you think I am on the wrong tangent - work this one out......

video

Yes we will make mis-takes - but therein lies the learning experience.
I am fortunate to have the opportunity  to attend  the best Uni available - the 'University of Life'. You never stop learning.
Thing is you have to stay focussed on what the best lessons are!
video

Being involved in others learning and caring for their well being is a real blessing for the heart and mind.
How good can it get?!

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Eye on the ball?

Lately I have had the opportunity to play golf regularly. It is a very interesting game - in fact like no other sport I have ever been involved in apart from surfing. Why?
Because no matter what skill factor you may have you are always pitting yourself against the mind.
It is also a sport in which you alone are responsible for the calls you make. So if you stuff up then you only have yourself to blame.
I guess life is a bit like this. We can be part of a team or community but in the end your performance is really about you. It is so easy when in a team, community or nation we can blame others.
I guess that's what the Ch Ch earthquake also retiterates. Yes bad stuff happens but how do we personally react to this? How we react I guess measures our quality as a performer.
I have found with golf if I can blank out the issue of my world around me & focus on the task ahead. I score well.
If I start thinking about other issues my game falls apart.
Golf is also a game when you can be up and buzzing one hole but in despair the next. Life is like that. It's how we handle it that is the key.
I listened to the Mayor of Ch Ch and our very astute PM today talking the positive. Ok when all around you is crap it is easy to bypass this as political ya ya . But in reality if we appraoch life in a positive way somehow the pathway does not seem to be so full of brambles.
I guess where my thinking is coming from is that let's look on the bright side because when we do this the challenges always seem to be easier to cope with.
video
Keep your eye on the ball that matters!

Friday, February 25, 2011

Tribute to to the Cantabs

I have this very poignant poem to share with you.
It was composed by my talented daughter Kelly who lives in Cheviot but was born & bred in Christchurch.
Thank you Kelly for so elogantly voicing the thoughts we all have.



Christchurch – 22.02.11

The great plains that surround you have swallowed you in grief

There is no running from this pain, no temporary relief.

The scorn of mother nature, just like Garys’ poem said

Has left you lost and broken, left your love and kinsmen dead.

The Christian steeple fallen, the men no longer pray,

The one eyed red and blacks are lost, yet your courage makes you stay.

The history in bricks and mortar tumbled to the ground,

Your loved ones lie beneath them, as you beseech but any sound.

And here I sit and watch you, my home, the town I know,

How can I be near you, what should I do and how.

My helplessness consumes me I want to hold your hand

Cradle baby Jayden and rejoice with wine for Anne.

How can I console you the people of my youth,

I wish that I could house you all and hide you from the truth.

Put back the bricks and mortar, save you, set you free

Let the book I read in standard three lie back in History

But I am not immortal, I cannot turn back time

There is no magic running through, these weathered hands of mine

But let me tell you what I know, re-tell you what I see

I see the best and worst of it, compassion, and humanity

I see the people fighting for love for what is theirs

Kinsman bond together battling more than fears

Nations come to help you, to lend a helping hand

The world is at your doorstep, and with you they shall stand

So though it is of little light through the tunnel that you walk

And I have only words for you, of the pain I cannot talk

Please know that we are here for you, we’ll be there in the wake

The red and black within your hearts was never hers to take.


By K.J Ensor,Cheviot,NZ

Worth a think about ?






Thursday, February 17, 2011

Enlightment?

Ok.. so it has been a pretty traumatic week. Having he challenge of working through the questions of life when someone so close may not be with you in the future certainly rocks your boat.
I have made a few major mis-takes & consequent decsions during the past few months but somehow fate has shown these were the best ones for the future.
I am so glad I was here for my close ones when the rubber hit the road.
I am very fortunate to have a great whanau of friends and acquaintences who certainly showed their worth when it mattered.
I will never forget you wonderful people ever.
The past few days have also nailed me to my conviction in life in what really matters.
To have a wonderful partner in future dreams and a family of character, real love and support is what really means success in life. I have the jackpot in this respect.
So back to my decision to be a 'real' teacher once again - well I have certainly discovered my true worth again. Yes, some will say - oh where is this guy at ? [esp one Westie who calls it as he sees it!]
But in reality it has been a born again experience. I love being with kids on a full on day basis and enjoying their bubbly enthusiasm to learn and grow. In turn this is has been the fountain of youth for me. I have regained true purpose and satisfaction in what I want to achieve.
So hence the "smitzhy" video below ( I dedicate this to all the hard nuts who are not believers in the power of learnig through kids}

Kia Kaha & keep smiling for our fledglings in learning!

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

On a new wave

So here it begins - a new phase in my life. I have made a deliberate decision to go back to my core values in life & aspirations. I am so excited about having the opportunity to be a real teacher again( Thnx JP u r the man!)
We met as a team today - what an awesome bunch of educators. Now I guess I have to show the glow and prove I can teach the kids of today.
I have learnt so much during the past few years - many thanks to the KFS team and my close colleagues at MBS.(esp Tash)
I am determined to " Be the difference" @ GHS and hopefully motivate those I am responsible for to go on and do the same.
It is so refreshing to be back with motivated educators who care about what is best for the kids.
I had hoped in my time as a Principal to make a mark, in this respect. Unfortunately politics, professional egos and self interested adults got in the way.
Now I can concentrate on where you can really have a positive influence.
I leave you with this:

This is where I believe I can really "Be the difference.