Saturday, March 2, 2013

Something is happening to me here...

Photo from Cape Reigna, New Zealand by Adam Provost

Tēnā koutou (meaning "hello" in Māori to three or more people... so I've learned),

Welcome from New Zealand! It's the first chance I've had to sit and write a bit since our arrival. Despite all the activity, I'm finding I'm truly relaxed here. There's a pace to the place and it's kind folk that I dearly like.

That sense of relaxation and belonging has certainly been enhanced by our gracious hosts along the way.

This far we've visited Blockhouse Bay, Henderson, and Takapuna Intermediate schools, and Lynfield College High School since we've been here. The receptions we've had from each couldn't have been finer. 

Students at Blockhouse Bay and Takapuna welcomed our group with variations of the Haka and Kapahaka and a variety of songs and dances. The student performances were quite remarkable, especially since school hasn't been in session long here in New Zealand this year. Melodic songs in Māori are something to behold, especially from students.

This group from Vermont I'm traveling with is a mix of older and younger folk in education with one Principal, three high school teachers, graduate students, and two University folks. As you can imagine, we've been approaching our work here from a variety of perspectives. 

We spent the first night in a hotel as an interim stop and then moved on to host families coordinated through the Blockhouse Bay educational community, especially the Principal there Mr. Colin Andrews. John, a high school teacher from Missisquoi and I are staying with Blockhouse Bay's Deputy Principal and his wife, Anand and Sonya Muthoo. We've had excellent meals, spirits and conversation. Anand has a wealth of experience in education and collaborative leadership. Sonya is an educator as well in a special needs school in Auckland. And no... we don't talk about education the entire time ; ) The couple has opened and introduced us to their family, their work lives, and the travels that brought them to New Zealand.

The most lengthy visit thus far came with over two days with the folks at Takapuna Intermediate School. The tech team there, Jackie, John, Eleanor, Carol, and Sylvia were very gracious with their time. I'd dare say we all hit it off fabulously. I had the chance through the generosity of the teachers there to talk with students in classes, discuss strategies, perspectives and share some history with the team during it's department meeting and have many laughs along the way. I even got recruited to teach some kids some softball skills... throwing and catching, fielding and batting. While drinking morning tea with the entire faculty over two days it's hard not to notice that our instructional ideas and philosophies mesh. Oddly... so does, for lack of a better term, our color palate. Sitting on the balcony of the faculty lounge and looking over the campus, the whole place is decked out in slate blue... the color of the rLab in Vermont.

All the environments I've experienced here are collegial, collaborative and supportive. The rapport the faculty has with each other, school leadership and the time built into the schedules here leads to great collaboration and camaraderie. That translates directly into great programs for students.

I'll confess... for a person who eats little to no fish, I've had it twice here already. Red Snapper with our host family and today Blue Nose Fish and Chips. Both meals were excellent.

I went sailing in Auckland Bay, and many thanks again to Owen Alexander for the opportunity.

Of course... despite my best efforts to reapply sun block I ended up with a good old sunburn today. The trials of swimming in the ocean and then boogie boarding down some sand dunes. Yes, you read that correctly ; )

There's more than a week to go here on our trip. I'm already sensing it's not going to be long enough.

Something is happening to me here.

Fun ideas to explore.

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