Posted in Promote well being of all akonga, Respond to the diverse needs of individuals, Show leadership, Uncategorized

Reflections on my years as a dean

This week has been a week of goodbyes. My year 13 cohort graduated and this ends my five years of deaning. We finished off with a heartfelt goodbye, first from my English class.

Next it was the walking school bus followed by the ‘big reveal.’ I really wanted to surprise them. The theme was “Goodbye childhood, hello world.” So what we created was a really childish playground with jumping castles, water slides, jousting rings and mini rugby. Add to that as-much-as-you-can-eat candy floss and lolly bags. The general consensus was that they thoroughly enjoyed themselves. They did exactly what I hoped they would, and that was dive headlong onto the slides.


And finally we got to graduation. They all did remarkably well and I am so proud of their behaviour, and their accomplishments. A moving moment was the standing ovation, I must admit.


I attach some of my speech for my reflection:

The last five years seem to have passed so quickly. I clearly remember sitting on stage as the year 9 Dean, and watching the year 13 Dean give his graduation speech. As his tears welled up, I sat wondering what all the fuss was about. Now that I have walked that same journey and watched these students grow in confidence as well as maturity, I totally get why he was so upset. This group of students are exceptionally talented and I feel privileged to have been their dean. This night marks the end of our journey together, but remember that graduation is not the end; it really is only  the beginning. Take stock of what you have learnt in your time at the college, and then look forward to the amazing opportunities that await you.

One thing that you won’t forget is that you are ground breakers. You were the first year 13s to go from mufti to uniform. Doesn’t it make dressing up tonight so much more special? You were also the first cohort to use one-to-one devices. Technology is such an integral part of the class now, that it’s hard to remember what school was like before the introduction of devices. I do believe that our students have developed 21st century skills that far surpass anything we originally envisaged. At this point I’d like to take a moment to remember Mark Quigley, who was our senior manager for the past four years. A few years back he said to me: Linda write this down so we don’t forget: we must remember to say a special thank you to our students at graduation for allowing us to make such a big change.

So, thank you for moving forward with us and for setting the example for others to follow.

I’d like to conclude my final duty as a dean with a quote from Steve Jobs:

“Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most importantly, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition.”


Posted in Demonstrate knowledge of how akonga learn, Evidence bundle, Promote well being of all akonga, Student Evaluations

Reflections on student evaluation

The first time I encountered student evaluations was when I started teaching in New Zealand. And I think they’re great. I’ve been teaching for over two decades and I love the affirmation I get from my students. And of course I pride myself on my approachable and affable demeanour. Don’t forget my valuable feed forward which is delivered in a constructive and positive way. Imagine my dismay when some of my students had the audacity to critisise me in their evaluation. Granted the harsh critisism was only from two responses, but still! It stung! They said, and I quote, “Miss needs to spend equal time with everyone, not just the loud ones.” Being gregarious myself, do I gravitate to the vocal students? Yes of course I do, for the following reasons:

1. We work in a digital 1:1 device world. Students do not depend exclusively on teachers. So when students are asking for our input, it affirms our place in the world. It’s a great feeling passing on knowledge right? Sometimes we do surpass Google.

2. In our ‘guide on the side’ role, we want to encourage independent learning, so hovering helicopter teachers are frowned upon. If students don’t need your input, don’t give it.

3. You can only ask “Do you guys need my help?” so many times. If they are on task and tinkering along, leave them alone.

But, why the comment that I did not give certain students enough encouragement and feed forward? So I came up with a plan and here is my reflection:

Every student has a voice and it needs to be heard. My plan was not technical, it was not complex. In fact it was simple and basic. I simply said to my students that, if they needed my input, they’d need to pop their names onto my whiteboard. I would stick strictly to the list on the board, no wavering to the squeaky wheels. At first I had about five names on the board. The next day the number of names doubled. By day three a colleague walked in and said: ” Wow you’re into double columns now!” I think there’s something about the fairness about the system that they liked. A parent contacted me and he reaffirmed what I thought, that the shy individual in the class felt as if he had been heard. Without having to put his hand up and say ” Miss, I need your help!” Which, ironically, by adding his name to the board, he was saying. I include photos in this post of students lining up to put their names on my board at lunchtime. Before class. I kid you not!  

I recently received this email from one of my students with a creative writing submission:

I have almost finished my story. Just working on the last sentence to relate to the burning of a fire, love and the beginning of my story. I need to finish it with the same metaphor. Any other changes you could recommend? I am second on the board for seeing you in class tomorrow so will hopefully have some more ideas by then! Thanks”