Participant Diary: Sam Carroll (2014 Cohort)

Voices - 3 December 2015

Sam Carroll, from our graduating class of 2014 wrote a few reflections in the form of a diary entry and read this out at the recent Ako Mātātupu event.

Dear Diary.

Looking back over our two years together fond memories flood back. I have chosen a slice of a couple of days to share in the time we have:

SII – January 10, 2014.

* Choice day trying out our really green teaching skills on Tangaroa & the Inzone Boys.. even better chucking a ball around with them at lunchtime

* They gave beautiful farewell songs, wow that Hape really steps up in the singing department, so cute seeing all the other boys usher him to the front..

* Back at the halls quick game of ball before a workshop in the evening.. Soccer & Basketball.. Nek Minnit Grid iron.. and David sprawled out on his back from a Jason full body check.. Hard out!

* We all spill into the 13th floor lounge for a few quiets... which conveniently turned into duelling guitars & song…

* Hold the phone! Sarah is going for her clarinet... It’s all on. Thank god it is not a school night! Love these guys…

All of the varied speakers, and the extensive readings we were given formed a basis for our discussions, and our time on SII allowed us all to find our place in the education spectrum to build what is becoming our own practice. As the people we are, we only managed to lay foundations before moving on to our respective schools to begin building from the ground up.

A couple of recent memories exemplify how the last two years have opened my eyes to the complexities of the cause we are all a part of.

Sitting down with my HOD talking about courses for next year and exactly what classes I am to take. When I began teaching, this was the focus. The curriculum, or what I viewed it as at the time. I was teaching Maths. Algebra, Trigonometry, Statistics and the like. Now two years later this is less important to me. Now I see the career as so much more than teaching our curriculum areas. We provide council, we encourage, motivate, nurture self-efficacy and we drive the van to the game. We try to create warm & welcoming spaces, and keep them conducive for learning. We provide structure & routine so our expectations are clear. We respect students learning enough to ensure those that are don’t are not allowed to detract from this learning. We learn from our students about their passions & interests, and share with them some of our own.. When they are fascinated by our hairstyle, or the club we used to run, then we intertwine learning about life with our curriculum.

There was a day in particular that has stuck out in my mind that reveals the complexity of our role.

September 23, 2015.

A colleague had shared with me a worksheet on Scatterplots, in the context of the Notorious B.I.G.’s song, Mo money mo problems. Biggie proposed that there was a positive correlation, and so to engage the students I thought playing the song would be a good start. I expected them all to know it well. I have swag, right? The response by half the class? “My Dad listens to that!” Haha. Classic Dads I wanted to meet. I sung the chorus, which evoked laughter. The students got stuck into the task, and we stopped for small breaks to have a small freestyle rap here and there. I shared a rhyme I had written when I was not much older than them. I went home so warmed by how well I had engaged them that day.  But this wasn’t a tale intended to blow my trumpet. No the intention was to reveal the complexities in the job that no textbook can prepare you for. One student wasn’t at school the next day. When she returned to school she wagged my class. The next day the Dean called me in for a quick chat, and in that it was revealed that the students ex stepfather was very similar to me in appearance, had the same hairstyle... and also liked to share his poetry over a hip hop beat. Unfortunately not everything he did in the home was with good intentions. The memories of him flooded back to the student, and she was immediately fearful of me. For the remainder of the term, a sensitivity to this, and an understanding was required to return to her a sense of safety in my classroom.

I found answers in the support networks created around me as a part of this program. I found time to reflect on these due to the time allowed me by this program. Among colleagues & friends I bounced ideas and eventually found some things to try out that could work for me.

This is just one of many examples of the benefits of on the job training. We live in an ever changing world, and the methods we use to respond to these challenges evolve just as quickly.

We honour the values the New Zealand Curriculum holds dear. Our curriculum is revered around the world as being forward thinking, innovative and responsive to research. We look to create problem solvers.

One piece of national and international research the curriculum has recently embraced was by NZCER, who identified key themes for a connected and coherent future-oriented learning system. These themes include a commitment to personalising learning, a curriculum that uses knowledge to develop learning capacity, the rethinking of learners’ and teachers’ roles, and the forging of new partnerships with the wider community.

Our schools have embraced this and run with it. Our schools have forged a partnership with this organisation, and together rethought our roles as learners and teachers, and is committed to personalising learning for us, learning that is incomparably connected, coherent & future oriented, by addressing urgent learning area needs in our society. This team continues to fight for our pathway to be recognised alongside others as a valuable and complementary alternative to the current.