I am an educator and I am back to writing my message of hope, which is so necessary in these times that we are going through, combatting the COVID-19 virus.

Greymouth High School has now been formally closed for two days and I have been functioning from my dining table to walk students through the transition. This meant calling to check in with families of my whanau group to see that they had their Chromebooks, internet connections, and also were managing the change of having their children at home. It was interesting to see how keen the students were to spend time working on their project with their scrum teams, taking initiative to use Google Classroom to communicate with me and each other. One of my conversations lasted almost an hour before I had to leave one ‘Meet’ to join the other.

As I have gone back to the aspect of funnelling and streamlining my research journey I thought I would take you through the metacognitive process. The caveat I am functioning from is that I do want to bring about change in the educational arena, in a manageable and way because it is in my DNA; a mandate from the living God as his daughter, led by the Spirit to bring honour to Christ, my saviour. The issues that I face in my classroom and see my students experience on a daily basis requires me to be more that an educator and help them through the time of change as their mentor and coach. I have personally experienced death, disappointment, hurt, rejection, earthquakes, a war crisis and and managed to emerge from it unscathed but wiser because people have mentored and coached me with care and love. I now want to be able to share and showcase some of these strategies that can be used in the complexity of the current classrooms, in a pedagogical ‘scrum’ which is well paced out with ‘sprints’.

  1. Acknowledge that these are trying times
  2. Reach out to your loved ones; forgive and be gracious and loving
  3. Stick to a routine, do something special for yourself, involve your children if you have them and make precious memories
  4. Help someone else go through the crisis. Be there and listen
  5. Pray

My didactic journey has always been situated in theological and pedagogical settings, bar one state school where I started my teaching profession. However, this was 2006, at Tirimoana, when the New value based NZ Curriculum had just been introduced and I lived and breathed this alongside prominent educators like John Hattie and Helen Temperley. The educational paradigm was shifting and this was the time when I started and helped run an after school homework club, from Hillsborough Baptist Church, at a low decile school every Tuesday.

My next step was to work at a mission school in Bangladesh, Grace International, functioning in the British Curriculum. They were on a journey of technological change and in unique circumstances of being remote and placed in three different buildings. Working with a classroom of students from 10 different countries, we partnered with a local charity that worked with underprivileged children and raised funds for their school resources.

On returning to Christchurch I started my postgraduate journey and started working at Middleton Grange, a Christian area school. Two weeks into it the earthquake devastated the city! It rallied its resources and the student army took to Facebook to offer support and help to the elderly and those in need. Working alongside an educator who functioned from her coffee table, it was possible to help my own students to persevere and make sense of their learning while managing change in their lives. Here is the paper that was published in the academic journal, Computers in New Zealand Schools. I served as a the Year 5 & 6 team leader at this time.

My call to Jordan was to an international mission High School, Whitman Academy, functioning with 30 different nationalities, in the American Curriculum. 3 months into the journey of streamlining their technological and pedagogical curriculum, while still working on my educational leadership study, I was in the midst of the Syrian crisis facing the Middle East and Jordan. Working alongside the church, with team of 6-8 international and Jordanian volunteers, I started and ran a Saturday Programme to provide support to a group of children , outside of camps, 30 minutes from the Syrian border. Here is the published vignette of it. My primary task at the High School was to help the students manage the transition with the use of technology in the classroom. However, they were enthusiastic about helping to make the resources for the students of the Saturday Programme.

After taking a three month break in the US, I returned to Christchurch to continue my educational leadership papers. I start my Master’s journey building upon the vignette. I also took up a job at state decile 4 school in Greymouth. Greymouth High School was at a unique situation of change of leadership and coming out of its own crisis. It has just started its own technological journey, bringing in Chromebooks and Google as equitable educational platforms. In the last four years New Zealand and Greymouth High School have, through a series of consultations led by the Ministry of Education, updated the technology curriculum to include Digital Technologies. Consulting with global counterparts and also building local hubs for the digital educational community ,the learning area is now its first year of implementation. Tim Bell, in his research alludes to the collaborative approach to communicating complex ideas about computer science in the classroom. He and others recognise the value of simplifying these complex tasks by deconstructing them in to manageable sprints. Most educators are now using objected oriented games and tools to make the learning tasks fun, as they are organised into agile iterative cycles.

As I communicated with my students using Meet, Google classroom and Airtable, as we usually do in the classroom, I was intrigued by how adept they were at moving back and forth between the tabs. Since they are used to social media, their understanding of using Google documents, when guided through it in sections, is developed to collate their work material from other sources. This is the relational  aspect of learning alluded to by Pam Hook in her the rubric based SOLO taxonomy, which is the basis of the set up of eAsTTle, the learning and assessment tool which has as aspect of AI built into it.

I think the example stands before us of how COVID-19 has been managed by different countries, how we have learned from each other other and have not not lost the aspect of humanity and kindness to those in our ‘bubble’, as Jacinda Arden, the Prime Minster of New Zealand puts it. Based on this advice here are some of the things I have told myself, the whanau of my students and my students based on the message of kindness being passed around the country currently. Here is how I have ‘deconstructed’ this to make sense of the scenario we are currently in:

  1. Acknowledge that these are trying times
  2. Reach out to your loved ones; forgive and be gracious and loving
  3. Stick to a routine, do something special for yourself, involve your children if you have them and make precious memories
  4. Help someone else go through the crisis. Be there and listen
  5. Pray

The educational community can make a difference and bring give hope for a future to the whanau and students in their care.