Saturday, November 06, 2004

A gap in my 'blog'!

I had set myself the task of putting up a 'blog' almost every day but this has not turned out as I had planned. Hopefully it is back to normal now.

Actually I have had a good excuse as I have been away working in two different areas of New Zealand. Two weeks ago I flew down to Dunedin to work with a group of ten rural schools in Otago. It turned out to be a very enjoyable experience. 'Equipped' with a rental car and a map of I was able to visit a range of small schools from coastal Dunedin to Alexandra, Central Otago . In Alexandra I spent a day working in depth with all the teachers involved. Not only was the traveling enlightening so was working with the teachers concerned. I was impressed that, although separated by distance, they were working together sharing each others expertise. I wish more schools would do just this, rather than struggling alone to comprehend the often confusing curriculum and compliance demands passed down from 'on high'.

The following week saw me in Napier following up a previous visit when I had helped two schools develop a simple vision, a set of values and most importantly, a set of agreed teaching beliefs. This was the model I also shared with the schools I worked with in Otago . At the schools I worked in this week , one in Taradale and the other in Havelock North, my task was to see how well they had progressed putting such their vision into action. It is early days yet but I was impressed with what they had achieved. They are well on the way to creating their schools as 'learning communities'.

I returned to my home town of New Plymouth a little exhausted but impressed with the quality of the teachers and the teaching I had observed. It is vital that those in charge of education in this country do all they can to create the conditions to enable teachers to work together to use their considerable creativity to the benefit of their students. For too long they have been on the back foot, trying to play 'catch up' with Ministry of Education demands. Now is the time, while the Ministry seems a little uncertain of what to do next, for teachers and schools to be creative.

I have no doubt , from my experience of the past two weeks , that teachers, given the encouragement, will rise to the challenge.

There is information on how to develop the 'School As A Community' model on my site

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