Thursday, June 30, 2011

Laugh Out Loud! (LOL)

Why not laugh?
I attended a workshop at ICOT in Belfast last week that was literally a laugh (
The underpinning premise was that laughter is healing, heathy and restorative. The workshop had me doubled over laughing with a group of people I had never met before- I laugh a lot so this was not an entirely new experience for me- and we connected on a different level to all other workshops at the conference.
I wonder if you laugh enough?
As an educator it is very easy to look at the negatives in school- constant earthquakes, we were burgled last night at Windsor $100000 worth of i pads stolen, stressed staff, troubled children, upset parents, however it is relatively easy to adjust my attitude- just visiting the playground at interval or lunch and I will see and hear children laughing, usually our staffroom is filled with laughter.
Children appear to be able to laugh at the drop of a hat- as we get older we appear to be conditioned to take more care about why,when, where, how and with whom we laugh- and often we don't do it at all. One of our Teaching and Learning Beliefs at Windsor is " A positive and challenging learning environment", you can bet that means bring on the laughs (as well as giving 100% in our learning)
If you are an educator ask yourself the question, "Do I enable laughter and a positive learning environment?"
If not then I suggest you re think your role with children. Children are a joy, they bring joy with them, life is hard enough (we can attest to this in Christchurch), find a way to encourage laughter today in your school, workplace, classroom, staffroom or home.
You will have nothing to loose, your day will be happier and those around you will not complain that they were upset because together you laughed!
Pass on a laugh tomorrow!


Since my last post from Ireland I returned home early to New Zealand following ongoing quakes and announcements about land remediation or zones that were to be totally wiped out due to excessive ground damage.
On my return I was struck by the resilience of our staff, children and the community. Despite repeated setbacks the team continue to provide a stimulating and challenging learning environment for our children. Families continue to smile and press on despite homes that are far from safe and in many cases at risk of severe structural damage in the event of another substantial shake. What strength, heart and fortitude. I am indeed proud to be a Canterbury resident and the Principal of such a school in such a resilient community.
The strength of our staff and children is written on the faces of our children.
Kia kaha Canterbury- be strong!

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Dublin and Belfast ICOT 2011

I am currently in Belfast at ICOT (International Conference on Thinking) having spent four wonderful days in Dublin.
Having visited schools in Ireland I can say that in NZ:
We are very fortunate with our school environments
Our autonomy under Tomorrows Schools is worth its weight in gold (and student engagement and achievement)
Our teachers have wonderful professional development opportunities in general and support as beginning teachers
Our staff are empowered to be reflective practitioners due to the systems and processes that we have in place
Our lack of a formal second language is debilitating
The imposition of National Standards is a move back in time and will do little to help our children
We have a beautiful country!

Having listened to some top international speakers such as Art Costa and Edward de Bono I am challenged about some of our practices and indeed about the risks inherent in moving to a narrow curriculum focussed on numeracy and literacy. I am reminded of the absolute need to help our children to be skillful thinkers and of the need for teachers to utilize strategies that will empower and enable our children.

I am also challenged by the difference between "real learning" and "school learning" and how we might reduce the gap between the two so that learning is more meaningful for our children.

It is an honor and a privileged to travel here to learn about teaching and learning from such an expert field. It is also a privilege to teach our children in New Zealand.
As the children and families struggle with ongoing earthquakes in Christchurch I am again reminded about the amazing job that the dedicated staff at Windsor do in providing a positive and challenging learning environment.
Kia Kaha Christchurch and Windsor!
Neill from Belfast June 2011