Celebrating BTP Success in 2017

by Dr Emily Nelson, Programme Coordinator

Kia Ora koutou. We have come to the end of another highly successful year of the EIT Bachelor of Teaching (Primary), our fifth in Hawke’s Bay and our third in Gisborne. 19 final year Candidate Teachers are eligible to graduate and are excited to begin their teaching career. Their graduation is bitter sweet for the Teacher Educator team— we feel the loss of such wonderful candidates in our day-to-day lives – but we share their excitement to enter our teaching profession.

We continue to confound the broader employment statistics for beginning teachers currently circulating in the media – our graduates continue to impress. Almost all of our 2017 cohort have secured fulltime teaching positions for 2018 already! Congratulations to them and to their employing schools, we are so proud of the continuing high caliber of our Candidate Teachers. We are thrilled to hear consistently from principals that our Candidate Teachers interview well, and bring a wealth of concrete teaching experience to the interview experience.

This year’s final year cohort presented the teacher educator team with this beautiful taonga to symbolize our partnership. It is engraved with the whakataukī Ehara taku toa i te toa takitahi, engari he toa takitini ke’ (My strength does not come from me alone but also from others). It holds pride of place in our foyer and we love it! I want to thank the BTP teacher educator team for their tireless commitment to the success of our Candidate Teachers!

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Our Candidate Teachers’ success is due also to the superb mentoring and coaching they receive from their school Mentor Teachers, and class teachers in their partnership school. In our programme Candidate Teachers participate in school life and teaching two days per week, from the beginning of Year 1. Collective mentoring is vital in assisting them to synthesise their theoretical and practical learning. Growing great teachers is a collaborative commitment! What a thrill to see this expertise gathered together in one photo – the BTP partnership is strong!

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Hawke’s Bay Partnership School Principals, Mentor Teachers and Teacher Educators celebrating another successful year together.

We particularly acknowledge the continued commitment of our three foundation Mentor Teachers—Lynda Allen (Frimley School), Shona Burrough (Havelock North Primary) and Heather Wilkie (Te Mata School). These three busy school leaders have mentored our Candidate Teachers in school-based learning, two days per week for five years continuously. Our Mentor Teachers are essential to our programme, and to the professional and personal growth of our Candidate Teachers as developing teachers. We value their wisdom, experience and coaching abilities more than we can say!

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Lynda Allen (front row, 2nd from left), Heather Wilkie (front row, 4th from left)

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Shona Burrough (front row, 1st on right)

 

This year we farewell three long-standing partnership schools —Flaxmere Primary, Haumoana School and Arthur Miller School in Hawke’s Bay and Awapuni School in Gisborne. These schools are taking a ‘sabbatical’ as partnership schools. We thank them for their commitment to the BTP and most especially their support of our Candidate Teachers. The diversity of our partnership schools is one of our greatest strengths and all our CTs have been enriched by the unique experiences these departing schools have offered them. We look forward to our continuing relationship with these schools as they host our CTs for practicum placements.

We welcome a number of new partnership schools into our network in 2018 also—Ebbett Park School, Bledisloe School and Puketapu School in Hawke’s Bay. We have been thrilled by the continuing level of interest among schools to partner with us and look forward to productive and rich relationships into next year and beyond. Our Tairāwhiti partnership school network is expanding also – we look forward to announcing these schools once partnership agreements are signed in the new year.

Sadly we are losing Jan Baynes, a foundation teacher educator in the Tairāwhiti team. Jan has contributed her wealth of literacy expertise to the BTP programme as well as an enduring commitment to provide wrap-around support to her students. We wish her well as she moves back into consultancy work – she is booked already well into 2018 across the country!

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Tairāwhiti Candidate Teachers enjoying poroporoaki time together on the wharf at Tolaga Bay

It is with great excitement that we conclude this celebratory post by congratulating our original cohort of graduates who are now fully certificated teachers! The teacher educator team was cheering along from the audience at the recent Havelock North Graduation ceremony – we wish you continuing success in your teaching career! We were thrilled that out of the 16 teachers recognised in the ceremony we attended, 12 were from the EIT BTP!

As you wind up for Xmas and all your little soaps, boxes of chocolates and bottles of wine are ferried home to keep you going over summer, on behalf of the BTP programme in Hawke’s Bay and Tairāwhiti, I would like to wish you a fully relaxing, safe and rejuvenating break.

 

 

 

 

 

The Power of Words

The Power of Words (NZLA Conference in Wellington, 2 October 2017)

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Four keynote speakers sparked the passion and love of literacy teaching and learning among the gathered audience. They were Ralph Fletcher, Kyle Mewburn, Sheena Cameron and Louise Dempsey. All four SHARED THEIR COMMITMENT to growing a love of literacy among children through interest and engagement, humour, curiosity and composition. In this post I am going to focus on Kyle Mewburn and Ralph Fletcher in their quest to engage boys in reading and writing. So many of us, who love teaching literacy have at some time or other grappled with or wondered about how we can get those boys in our class who aren’t interested in reading or writing to engage and see the magic in both.

“Words are like souvenirs by which you remember stories” (Kyle Mewburn). They are building blocks, taonga, magic and they sing. Kyle told the audience in his unique style, it was his calling to give kids ways of expressing themselves using rhyming dialogue, “Crinkled, crumpled, Mrs Fizzletum” and to encourage them to have fun with words, “Howdy-dumble, Andy Apple Crumble!” (from Kiss! Kiss! Yuck! Yuck!). Kyle Mewburn is one of New Zealand’s most eclectic and prolific writers and HE certainly kept the audience entertained with his often zany stories about life. Kyle insists that to develop a love of words in children they should be used and played with verbally as well as on paper. In his workshop he continued to make us think about words in a new way – having fun with them and playing around with the construction of sentences. Our first exercise was to participate in an insult joust! Some of you might be holding up your hands in horror at the very thought but fear not my friends – this was fun and totally controlled by the teacher. Make up pre-prepared cards which contain titles, adjectives and nouns. Get individual children to select 3 cards (one of each) and square off with a jousting partner. The winner is the one who makes their insult sound the most convincing (judged by the audience) eg. “Sir Lancelot is a weaselly toe rag!”  Think about this, ‘How might your literacy lessons change if you focussed on developing a love of words as a goal?’

Kyle believes that children need to develop their word powers using narrative power (strong verbs / bristling sentences), descriptive power (incisive similes / hyper detail) and emotive power (explosive detail / physical / psychological). When it comes to boys, they like action packed fast paced narrative, super charged subject matter, relatable characters (friendships), boundless humour, gross elements and lists (lots of lists) so let them write like that.

So how do we get children to develop a belief that they can be a writer just like they can be a soccer player, a netball player or an artist?

THAT BRINGS ME TO RALPH FLETCHER …

Ralph Fletcher believes we should teach children to be inquisitive and find interesting things about ordinary lives. He encourages teachers to let children write organically rather than being genre driven. Included in his core beliefs about writing are that writers need … time, choice, response and responsibility. What does that mean in classroom practice? They need you, the teacher, to allow this to happen within the class literacy programme.

In order to have choice children need the time to record and gather their ideas for writing. When children notice things, when they are moved by things, when they wonder about things, we (as teachers) need to help them sow those THESE seeds as triggers for writing. A Writer’s Notebook is the perfect place to germinate those THESE seeds. Ralph Fletcher is an exponent of the Writers Notebook and he uses them as “a playground where writers can goof around!”

We teach them to listen to the talk of the world. Ask them to listen to conversations and “snatches of talk” of those around them – write down those sparkly words in their writer’s notebook. Ralph suggests that the camera (on your phone or ipad) can also function as a writer’s notebook as you capture things around you. Children, as we know, are great at capturing images from their unique child’s eye that takes an ordinary thing and makes it quite extraordinary. Ralph believes writers need to show their identity so he asks children to pay attention to their senses and their heart when they are collecting and recording ideas in their writer’s notebook.

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Ralph has spent much of his time investigating boys learning and their writing. He is the author of many books for teachers but two notable ones you might be interested in are Boy Writers: Reclaiming Their Voices and The Writing Teacher’s Companion. “Topic choice emerges as a crucial issue. The subjects many boys like to write about (war, weapons, outlandish fiction, zany or bathroom humor) often do not get a warm reception from teachers. Ralph argues that we must “widen the circle” and give boys more choice if we want to engage them as writers”. He urged us to build on their strengths, take the long view and enjoy their writing!

So many gems from two very inspiring educators. From now on my CTs will be jousting with insults, goofing around in their writer’s notebooks, recording their own seeds of inspiration and curiosity, and using their cameras to engage their heart and senses. How about you?

Leigh Johnson

EIT Primary Education Research Symposium

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On Saturday 19th August a keen bunch of 40 educators gathered for the inaugural Eastern Institute of Technology’s Primary Education Research Symposium hosted by the Bachelor of Teaching (Primary) team of teacher educators.

Members of the Matariki Kāhui Ako set an inspiring tone for the morning sharing their vision of ‘maximising student outcomes through collaboration’.

Maurice Rehu, Richmond School, Daniel Murfitt, William Colenso College and Maureen Mua, Richmond School, inspired us with a powerful example of building whanaungatanga and educational success as a community of learners. Teachers and principals from within the Community of Learning visit each others’ schools, creating connections with each others’ students and gaining the value of each other’s expertise authentically. The Kāhui Ako celebrates its schools as centres of excellence, with great students, capable of achieving great things!

‘what happens for kids changes whānau’

Creating ‘healthy and vibrant whānau’.

Members of the Matariki Kāhui Ako identify community collaboration as an opportunity for talking within and across sectors, and for acting together powerfully to create the conditions needed for social and educational success for our tamariki and whānau.

Chris Bradbeer of Stonefields School and University of Melbourne inspired us to think of contemporary teaching as a ‘team sport’ and what this might mean for collaborating in practice.

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Chris cut through binaries of ‘conventional’ vs ‘innovative learning’, in talking about teaching and learning in innovative learning environments, challenging us to think instead about ‘purposeful design’ of learning environments that are congruent with a school’s vision.

He posed three generative questions:

‘What are the opportunities of spaces?’ ‘What can we do now that we couldn’t do before?’ ‘How can we maximise impact?’

Chris highlighted the importance of collective teacher efficacy in ILEs with ‘High performing teams’ a key to success and collaboration as the amplifier for this success.

Dr Emily Nelson and Leigh Johnson, EIT challenged us to consider the challenges innovative learning environments create for preservice teachers on practicum. The voice of preservice teachers is largely absent in research relating to innovative learning environments.

Alongside the increased collaborative support and boosted self-efficacy preservice teachers can experience in collaborative hubs, they face key challenges also, vital for Associate teachers and teacher educators to consider in supporting an ILE practicum, including the challenge to:

  • Negotiate virtual spaces where they might not have full access, limiting their ability to fully occupy the teaching role
  • Assume teaching responsibility for larger groups of learners, stretching their abilities to plan and teach responsively to students’ learning needs
  • Negotiate physical and pedagogical spaces ‘under construction’ where teachers are still working out how their innovative learning environments will operate
  • Think on their feet and respond to the changing needs of students and colleagues, whilst drawing on the most formative professional knowledge.

Julie Whyte, EIT opened up our thinking around the maths anxiety which affects many of our teachers. She defined maths anxiety as:

‘Feelings of tension and anxiety that interfere with actions with numbers’

One key consequence of maths anxiety in teachers is that it impacts on students’ views of maths and themselves as mathematicians.

The presentation really struck a chord with everyone in the room because it is an area that teachers grapple with on a daily basis.

Julie challenged us to consider our own maths autobiographies, and the language we use around our maths abilities. Do we wear maths anxiety as a ‘badge of honour?’

Julie suggested that teachers get creative with how they teach maths, sharing her particular favourite strategies that include using rich and engaging picture books to teach maths concepts and develop positive student relationships with maths.

Kirsty Jones, EIT and Frances Corkery, Ministry of Education challenged us to identify the ‘boundary objects’ that broker connections and shared purpose within, and across our professional contexts. In the BTP the Mentor Teacher planner acts as a boundary object, providing a shared vision that enables teacher educators and school-based mentor teachers to support our preservice teachers as they move between campus learning and putting this into practice in their school-based learning contexts.

Kirsty and Frances presented ‘storylines’ of mentoring – the threads that make sense of the mentoring role in particular ways. We were challenged to consider what our own storylines of mentoring and leadership might be?

Richard Edwards, EIT concluded the morning, drawing together themes of connection, collaboration and communication running as storylines through each of the symposium presentations.

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Participants expressed the value of the symposium as:

‘It was great to hear relevant learning from my own colleagues and from teachers in the primary and secondary sector.’

‘It was very timely for me and addressed and supported the recent changes occurring for us.’

‘Information on current educational issues. Networking with others.’

‘It was great to have a range of educators across the education sector all talking the same language and interested in each other’s work.’

 

The EIT Primary Education Research Symposium, as an annual event in Hawke’s Bay, will showcase research and pedagogical innovation emerging within the education sector. The symposium is an opportunity to share insights and learning within: Kāhui Ako, Teaching as Inquiry projects, Teacher-led Innovation Fund studies and post-graduate research.