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Teaching in action – examples to share

What does 7 days of lockdown look like?


Here we are – 7 days of lockdown already done and dusted.

So what has it looked like?  What have we done?

I spent Thursday and Friday getting up around my ‘usual’ time, and going for a walk – getting out before it was daylight, before other people and their ‘bubbles’ would be about. I’d come home and get myself into work. We needed an updated newsletter to be put out to our families – after all it was still school term! (Newsletter here)

I’ve been able to catch up on professional readings that I have sat aside for weeks, and I’ve finally gotten around to updating our overdue school website . . . and yet the list of ‘to dos’ is steadily growing.

Home is getting a good ‘sort out’ – the office was rearranged to be my new work office and actually felt quite cosy! At night we’ve played board games – and just ‘hung out’ with the kids. They are finding things to do – Allie (13) had started a journal, was sewing and dare I say it keeping up to date with everything on Tik Tok, Instagram and HouseParty – Sam (17) was finding more time to sleep, and shoot hoops in his newly pre lockdown purchased basketball hoop! Sam – as the Coke merchandiser for the three supermarkets in town (as his after school job) is still deemed an essential worker so is still required to go to work). Roly is now working from home also.

Walking during the day is a new experience.  There are times when there is no one else about – no one walking, no one driving. On day 5 Roly and I went walking about 4pm and we walked up Severn Street without seeing any vehicles either way. Roly actually walked up the middle of Severn St to make the point! Meeting people is also interesting. Either we – or the people coming the other day ensure social distancing. Once upon a time I would have been offended if people crossed the street as I walked – now I’m grateful.

Meanwhile – the World Pandemic continues – thousands are dying in Italy, Spain and the States. NZ is amongst a large number of countries on lockdown – meanwhile Australia still continues a little like normal – ensuring that their hairdressers don’t spend more than 30 minutes on a client!!  The US are using ice rinks and refrigerated trucks to hold the dead, and still people choose not to isolate in some areas.

New York has acquired over 150 extra ambulances to transport patients between medical centres. Brazilian stadiums are being refurbished as potential hospitals. Other countries are setting up new hospitals that will hold up to 4000 patients at any one time.

While 70+ are the most at risk, and our one death (so far) has been a 70 something woman), the highest affected age group is the 20-29. The PM states that while NZ is doing a great job at isolating there are a number who aren’t – these people don’t think it applies to them – however then infect others. There are ‘clusters’ of people who are linked to specific events – weddings in Bluff, a school in Auckland, a conference in Queenstown, a bar in Matamata, a trip to the US.

NZ currently has 708 cases.  This has primarily only been based on cases that are linked to overseas travel.  With community transmission confirmed and the government now opening up testing to anyone the number of cases are expected to rise. The next few days will tell. I’ll leave you with this video – from Dr Lance O’Sullivan – former NZer of the year – and strong health advocate – this is happening too much in our country at the moment in some areas – Dr Lance O’Sullivan.

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Alerts – Level 3 AND Level 4 – all at once!


Anniversary Day – 1pm – and we sit down to watch the what have become ‘normal’ 1pm announcements from Dr Ashley Bloomfield, the Director General of Health and the Prime Minister, Jacinda Adern, about our current situation. It was this announcement where the PM stated that we were moving to Alert Level 3 – those who can work from home, schools closed to all except essential worker’s children effective of Monday night, social distancing (2m away from others outside your ‘bubble’) and increased limits on border control (only NZers allowed back into NZ and everyone had to self isolate for 14 days). COVID cases were increasing – all were associated with overseas travel, however there was fear that there were increasing concerns about community transmission. Level 2 was effective immediately, Level 3 from 48 hours time – midnight Wednesday.  Level 3 would see all of NZ go into lockdown – isolation in our own homes – for 4 weeks – 28 days!

First call to the Board Chair – he was also listening to the announcement too – and our discussion lead to how Tuesday would look, with the intention of the school closing on Wednesday night. Teacher Only Day as we had planned it (twice already) was over – and our plan for closing and distance learning in the future was instigated.

My next thoughts were with our family.  Anniversary Day meant we were home and our response was to think about what we would do for the next four weeks – ‘stuck’ at home, ‘stuck’ with each other – with nowhere to go!  What would we do?  What did we need? A shopping trip to Farmers, Smiths City, The Warehouse and Mitre 10 saw supplies of slippers, (more) board games, LEGO, flannel sheets, gardening supplies, paint, ping pong balls – and hair dye!! . . . (No food? The government had made it very clear that Supermarkets would remain open so we didn’t see food as a priority!). Our shopping trip was what I imagined a Grocery Grab to be like over a number of shops – but we had to pay!

Back home and I had to switch to school mode.

  • What was the priority for teachers on TOD?  Their minds would be with their families and preparing for that. Yet we needed to have something organised to consider for ‘distance learning’ in three weeks time. (The holidays were being moved forward – and then after Easter Term 2 would begin).
  • How could we ‘keep in touch’ – ensure everyone was ok in this time – while all being well apart?
  • What did my office staff need to do tomorrow in preparation for 4 weeks (at least) off site?
  • What did my property staff need to do? Rubbish? Rodent control? Security? Devices out of sight?
  • How would we run our planned BOT meeting?
  • I needed to send out a newsletter to our community – and an email to the staff
  • What else did we need to consider – teachers needed to remove their recent shells from beach trips, remove food  . . .

I wrote lists – lists for myself, my admin staff, my staff, my groundsman. I went to bed, but was up soon after adding more things to the list. I decided a FB group would be ideal for our staff to keep in touch – we could share photos, have conversations and know that some of our more vulnerable were looking after themselves. I can’t remember if it was late night or early morning but the group was made and set up.  I just needed to make sure that everyone could access it – and knew how to – and added that to the list for Tuesday morning with the staff.

I was awake again at 4:30 – wide awake. Going through the lists again – adding to the lists. What did I need to work from home – another list of things I needed to get and bring home in order to continue to work. I grabbed the biggest suitcase we had and parked it at the door so that I wouldn’t forget it. I decided I’d pack up my office and bring it home – in the suitcase (and probably another bag or two). I sent the odd email to avoid forgetting things when I got to school – my mind couldn’t stop – I couldn’t stop – forgetting something now would have no return after midnight Wednesday.

I set up a Google form – we needed to know if we had any essential workers who needed their children at school on Wednesday.  Yet another newsletter had to go out to the community about what we planned going forward . . . and I had to pack up my office – what did I need to pack? ERO bits and pieces (they will still be coming), BOT pack, Property folder (we have developments coming up), DT (we have work to build on), Community Trust info (we have a large grant coming our way and this is the chance to get it underway) – and the pandemic plan needs updating!!  This is what a pandemic really looks like! The list was growing and I just needed to get to school – I did – by 6:15am!

Teacher Only Day came and went – albeit with social distancing, a clearing of classrooms and teachers putting together programmes for post holidays – while we are still on lockdown. We decided we weren’t expecting ‘lessons’ this week.  Children needed to feel safe, families needed to get their heads around this new situation, everyone needed time. We had all felt a bit hard done by not being able to say ‘see you later’ to our children. It was decided that teachers would email each family personally to say ‘take care, see you later’ by the end of the week, that I would update the school FB page with activities that families could do, and that on April 15th I would upload the work that the teachers had planned for ‘distance learning’.

I emphasised to all staff that they needed to be off site on Tuesday afternoon.  We hadn’t had any essential workers indicate that they needed their children at school on Wednesday, the MoE had rung and I’d checked with them that I could close the school effectively immediately – they were happy with that. Being offsite Tuesday meant that staff still had 24 hours to think about anything else that they might need to come to school for – before we were banned – for the 28 days (at least).

Midnight Wednesday 25th March – we were in lockdown and physically isolated from the rest of the world – for 28 days – at least.


Well – what a year this last week has been! Prior to the Lockdown


The phrase I’ve called this post is one I saw and definitely related to this time last week.  As I write this post I’m kicking myself – I should have started recording my experiences a week ago!

Our country is currently in a lockdown. We’ve been instructed by the government to ‘Stay Home to Save Lives’. Today is Day 7 of Lockdown – but let me take you back a couple of weeks.

Principals are leaders of learning – people who focus on the learning within their school and classrooms – all with a focus of ensuring our children leave as the best that they can when they move from our school.  I have never felt further removed from this as I have over the past three weeks.  Along with an impending ERO visit (that should have started two days ago), and the increasing awareness of what first came known to us as ‘CaronaVirus’ and is now clearly known by it’s scientific name – COVID-19 – we have had learning opportunities of other sorts.

We had a Pandemic Procedure in our school – however it never prepared us for the reality of a pandemic.  Prior to March 12th – when the World Health Organisation declared this as a world wide pandemic – it was a thorough procedure – but the reality was different. The need to ensure everyone is educated – teachers, students and parents – about what we were doing and why (ie that we weren’t overreacting) was important.  What did we do in addition to our procedure?

  • Ministry of Health posters about handwashing, coughing expectations
  • The presence of flowing soap, cleaning fluids and hand sanitiser EVERYWHERE we could!
  • Adding paper towels to our toilets and switching off the hand driers
  • No personal touching – no shaking hands, hugging, high fives (do you realise how many of these we do a day!!?)
  • Enacted on the daily emails that were coming from the Ministry of Education
  • Starting to plan ahead in regards to staff not being able to come to school (who had particular health conditions and/or immune compromised – or over 70 years of age.
  • Give parents the opportunity to remove their child from school if they were immune compromised.
  • Keeping information timely to staff and the wider community.
  • Constant contact with the Board Chair as to what we were enacting.
  • Cancelled assemblies (as these were gatherings of more than 100 people)
  • Sports events were cancelled (touch, swimming sports, rippa rugby tournaments)

By March 16th we were starting to put out daily COVID-19 updates to our families, a family had cancelled their trip to Hawaii to meet up with their Canadian family for a very special family celebration, and on a personal level we were starting to wonder if our family holiday to Bali was actually going to be able to go ahead.

While not being able to have our usual assemblies I took the ‘certificate’ children and house captains for that week’s assembly and ran a recorded assembly in our Ruma Nui. This was recorded by a Year 8 student and posted on our school FB page to enable the rest of the classes and parents to still celebrate our acknowledgements for the fortnight.  No hand shakes on presentation of the certificates turned into foot taps, and the assembly had only 30 children present – but over 700 views on Facebook!

View our ‘online assembly’ here.

As a Principal I can’t remember ever having a time where I was so obsessed with an issue – and why?  Things were changing so quickly.  I needed to ensure the emails I was receiving were being enacted, I needed to ensure the news I was hearing (that was sometimes changing by the hour) was being enacted on – and needed to be considering the potential change that meant for us as a school.

At our daily morning staff briefing at 11am I was usually able to give the staff an update from the MoE email, this information was often different information than we were filtering out to the community.  The community needed to know what we were doing at school – our school discussions needed to be about what we would do at the next stage – and each day seemed to be a next stage!

Sunday 22nd March and NZ is given the information that we are at a COVID-19 Level 2 Alert.  At Level 2 all 70+ year olds and anyone who is immune compromised are instructed to stay at home and not mix with the general public. Border restrictions were increased, travel was restricted to necessary travel only and people were asked to work from home if possible. For us as a school it had an impact – there would be some students who wouldn’t be able to come to school, some staff would be in the same boat. We started to think about how this would look for us.  I organised to meet with my DP and Board Chair the following morning to think about what it meant for us.

Monday 23rd March was Anniversary Day and we met in the morning.

My DP and I reorganised our TOD (planned for the 24th) due to our facilitator no longer being able to travel from afar as it wasn’t deemed ‘essential travel’. It was still to be a productive day and we would have been achieved a lot. After this we met with our Board Chair and agreed on the following:

  • No additional visitors into our school – this included RTLB, RTLit, Itinerant music teachers, MoE Special Ed, Sports coaches
  • Begin to think as a staff what distance learning might look like if we are asked to implement this.
  • Cancel all class trips that were planned
  • A plan put into place for before and after school so that parents weren’t on site. This included a rolling finish to our days, and teachers meeting students at the gate in the morning. This involved teachers at the gate to welcome students (and assure parents they would be fine!)
  • Acknowledging that anyone on site who showed signs of not being well would be asked to leave.
  • Asking all parents to be vigilant with children who show signs of being unwell, and letting them know that we would send anyone home who wasn’t well.

All of the above was all with the intention of keeping things as normal as we could, but minimising the contact children on our site would have with others. We wanted to assure them that we understood there weren’t any COVID cases in our community but that we were being proactive to ensure the safety of our students and staff.

HOWEVER – that plan was out of date within two hours of constructing it with the next announcement . . .  (see next post)


Learning @ WVS 2016


Learning at WVS 2016

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On arrival at Waitaki Valley School at the beginning of Term 2 I was met with 30 Chromebooks in their boxes.  These were quickly taken out of the boxes, set up our system and ready to go!!

But . . . it’s not always that easy – how do you integrate them in meaningful ways within the classroom?  They started off by being used as additional machines for what I refer to as the consumable user (not the creative thinker!!) – for the likes of Mathletics and other interactive websites.

My teachers have been very receptive to their use though and are now using them alongside Hapara in order to have students creating and responding to each other’s work through Google docs.  This has quickly become a wonderful way to engage previously disengaged writers.

30 iPads and 30 Chromebooks (as well as a number of PCs) seemed adequate to me for our little school of 110, however the demand for the Chromebooks as a teaching and learning tool is quickly increasing over our Yr 3- 8 classes.

I’ve spent a bit of time recently looking at the various ways that we can continue to use the Chromebooks in valuable ways to increase learning opportunities.

Here’s a few things I have come across:

  • Google overview and educational apps for chromebooks here 
  • NZ Chromebook Classroom on You Tube

    Google Classroom on You Tube

    Google Classroom on You Tube

  • Benefits of Chromebooks
  • Kathy Schrock’s Guide to Chromebooks – Kathy has been around for years!!! I remember referring to her site when I was studying at the turn of the century!!   Some really good background information, as well as tips and tutorials, links to classroom practice and international sites

Where have I been?


I am attending a Principal’s Google Day and Rob Clarke is discussing the values of blogging.  This has made me wonder – how long has it been since I last posted to my blog??  OMG – 10 months!!  I have gone from being, at times, a daily blogger, collating resources for myself and anyone else who was interested!  I used it capture my thoughts and reflective thinking, and I’ve used it as a spot to celebrate and share new learning.

So where have I been?  I have been learning . . . I have been collating resources . . . but I haven’t been blogging!!

Term 1 – I enjoyed a 6 week sabbatical – investigating the aspects that successful schools of BYOD were implementing.  This learning is posted on my wikispaces page.  (It isn’t all organised – but it is there).

Term 2 – I have started a new role as a Principal at Waitaki Valley School in Kurow, and this learning and reflection is put away on a google sites (I won’t link to this as it also forms part of my appraisal) but it does look like this:



My start to Principalship has been a very positive one.  Waitaki Valley is a wonderful wee school in a great wee community. The school is well resourced and is a purpose-built new build of only 4 years ago.  We have things to work towards as a teaching team, however my team are all responsive to the direction that they are taking.

Maybe I should be blogging our journey!!

Watch this space . . .

Hearing what BYOD can do for students


I love the messages in this video – from students, teachers and the Principal. While these students are using Chrome Books, the philosophy behind this supports any model of BYOD.  What a lucky school to have the support of this trust to enable this to happen for their kids.  The benefits are obvious and the school and it’s community are appreciative of the backing of the trust in order for this to happen.

Social Media and Professional Lives


I have started working with new teachers at the beginning of the year and working through the process of making them aware of their presence on Social Media sites. This is becoming an increasing issue that teachers (and any other professional) needs to be aware of.  The NZ Teachers  Council have put together some great resources for supporting these conversations (and I use them in an ‘activity’ based way).

Teachers council social media


And while we can be specific to school based settings and Social Media it is important that ALL teachers (both young and old!) understand the implications of their own digital footprint.  Once upon a time you could have a professional profile and a personal profile, but the clever people at the likes of Google and Facebook are now able to put the connections together and often merge the two together for you!!

This is a really interesting article that discusses the implications of your Social Media profile.  Article here

This is an interesting article



I can see the potential for something like this Rocketboard ap to be quite exciting –


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Tomorrow is an auspicious occasion at OIS – our first day of BYOD. This has been a three year plan – putting the reliable infrastructure into place, ensuring systems in classrooms are set up for teachers and students, as well as the informing and education of the parents.

BYOD is implemented in different schools for different reasons. This little video sums up our approach simply.


Here too is a simple little summary by our Year 8 Team leader Frances

While there has been a lot of planning going on in the background now the exciting part begins:
How will this change teaching in classrooms?
How will students respond to having their own device in class?
What challenges (pedagogically) will teachers have?

I’m going to look to post updates here in order to record our journey.

I’ve also been collecting resources – some I’ve used, some I’m still to view – but there is a wide range of material on my wiki

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