Posted in Criterion 4, Criterion 5, Criterion 7

New, new, new!

This year I started a new role as Head of Learning in a new school (Whangaparaoa College) and the learning curve has been pretty steep. I also got a new car so that accounts for the third new in the title!

Some things that I have learnt:

1. Ordering and books and stationery can be quite a drawn out process with lots of opportunity for mistakes to be made. Apparently this is not normal, according to another HOL. I did end up with a present from the stationery company to apologise though so it’s not all bad!

2. Confidence in yourself is key. My previous principal told me this and she was not wrong, when you feel unsure keep acting as though you know exactly what you’re doing. Fake it until you make it.

3. The legacy left by a previous HOL can be a blessing and a curse. One teacher’s timetable was arranged to include facilitating a weekly online reading programme from an American company for 3 other teachers’ year 9 classes. Because of this we were obliged to sign up and complete professional development with this company. It has not been a positive experience and we are locked in for the rest of the year.


Challenging Things I have had to deal with:
1. Death of a respected and admired friend and colleague.

2. Okaying attendance to a conference for 2 members of the department and then being told by senior management that it would eat up most of my PD budget so they couldn’t go. Then I had to break the bad news!

3. Dealing with conflicting opinions and advice on extensions and submission processes. I also had to adapt to a different philosophy surrounding this which goes against what I believe and is different to what I was used to.

4. Having pre-teaching meetings for assessments and agreeing on how the assessment would be delivered and then some teachers doing something different. People will be people.

New tasks as an HOL:

1. Checking that each course is correctly loaded onto the SMS (Kamar). This is still a work in progress as we adapt and change to better suit our learners’ needs.

2.  Reflecting on the previous year’s results. Fortunately, I was not expected to write a report about this but instead had a discussion with my principal about my impressions so far.

3. Connecting with department members regularly, listening and empathising, supporting them with difficult learners.

4. Facilitating Curriculum meetings. I have previously always dreaded these meetings (sorry Meryl 🤓) but I have really enjoyed them this year. It has been great to watch other teachers share apps and websites and how they are using them with their learners. I also like being in charge so I can be the one to move things along, if needed.

5. Analysing data and drawing conclusions – Asttle and  senior assessment results. This always used to give me cold shivers down my spine but over the last few years I have begun to appreciate the significance of data and how it can inform better practice.

6. Ordering books and stationery. Enough said on that one!

Help and support:

1. Meeting on a weekly basis with DP. This has been really helpful as I can ask stupid questions and get plenty of ideas on how to answer them. Another relatively new HOL meets with us too so it is good to have another perspective.

2. My colleagues in the English department. Everyone has been super supportive and encouraging. They are a great bunch of people who I’m looking forward to getting to know better.

3. The staff councillor. This lovely lady took me out for a coffee when she could see that I was struggling and helped me to see what I was doing well. This really helped my confidence.

4. Friends and family praying for me. Knowing that people are rooting for me and have my back is a great support.

Fun things:
1. Using Facebook to source some free furniture for our foyer area and then going on a mission to pick it up. The foyer in our department was looking a bit bare so we put the word out on Facebook and had offers of free furniture within 24 hours. 4 of us got into the school van with a trailer in tow and cruised around and picked it all up after school one day. Such fun!

2. Having a shared morning tea every Friday. This makes Fridays bearable, having a big feed of cheese and crackers gets you through the day.

3. Singing a note of opera. This came about because I was helping one of my learners one day and I told him of he needed some more help just to sing a note of opera. He looked at me questioningly so I demonstrated what I meant. He thought I was a bit mad! I told the department at lunch one day and it became a thing.

So, it has been a steep learning curve this term and I know I’m only part way up the mountain. But I’m having fun and enjoying the climb.

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Author:

I am an English teacher of year 9-13 students at Whangaparaoa College. I enjoy incorporating the use of technology in the classroom and researching effective ways of engaging students. In 2012 our school introduced compulsory BYOD for year 9 and I have enjoyed this challenge. I am an advocate of Project Based Learning and plan to increase my use of this teaching style. I am also a musician and enjoy playing in local bands. If I can include music in my teaching in some way, I do it!

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