Monday, 28 October 2013

Donna White: Phew!!! What a ride…. And I’m just the reliever…..

Karyn’s Introduction:

Donna was a part time reliever in our first year, taking on a longer term relieving position with use by half way through our second year and has remained on board this year. Donna shares with us a great ‘from the side’ view of the process, growth and development she has seen us undertake

Phew!!! What a ride…. And I’m just the reliever…..
The journey of a reliever ………….., I came to TKAS  as a  day to day reliever in the year the school was developing their first year curriculum, staffing philosophies, community identity, management of change from two separate schools merging and transitioning into one completely new educational concept…. 
The change was and has been phenomenal – I don’t think there has been a single element within the community of students, parents, staff and board members that have remained untouched, challenged and unchanged due to the ever evolving forward thinking, forward facing 21st century moving and shaking thinking that the staff and board are grappling together with.   
Preparing and shaping their students for the future in the world they will be meeting, and not the world the staff have known, is a constant theme, not only for the teaching and learning programs and curriculum, but also communication and behaviour management styles.  
I have witnessed the collaboration of passionate teachers willing to learn, reshape their own ideas, throw things out, start again, and again… change, wait, think, feedback, wait watch, persevere, communicate, sweat, and tears.  
I have witnessed teams of staff within their own learning stream, collaborate and celebrate the learning from other learning streams.  
I have enjoyed staff of all age streams share their dreams, passions and vision for their students.  
I have enjoyed staff celebrating with one another their student participation, and learning successes.   
I have learnt so much, have been sometimes amazed that I’ve  been on  the learning ride.
I was invited this year to take on the learning of the New Entrants as a transition class, fixed term by term.  Within this time I have had the amazing privilege to observe the ever evolving organism that is being created…  I have observed much intrinsic processing of collaboration, I have watched and admired the strength of the staff as they grapple together with challenges.  
It is hard breaking new ground, there are always misconceptions, growth pain, and resistance as a natural part of the process.  It takes strength, maturity and gritty belief in the bigger picture and whole staff  buy in to create an atmosphere of collegiality – letting go of one’s own ego’s for the betterment of the whole community. 
 I have observed this, in the making,  marvelled, cried, and laughed in the sharing of the dreams with this staff.
I have been privileged to be part of the on-going  professional learning that I know I would never have actually put myself in…..It would have looked too Hard to be possible BUT IT HAS BEEN POSSIBLE!  

Nothing will remain unchanged….so I have learnt by observation, that if I’m not prepared to change, move, and be a transparent, ever learning person, willing to let go of the old,… I’m gonna freeze like a piece of petrified wood and turn into a fossil….well maybe a crustacean, they look a bit more interesting….


  1. So well written. Thank you Donna, I really enjoy teaching alongside you. I think you are a very talented teacher.

  2. Once a principal bemoaned his lot to me and added, "you're lucky, you're just a teacher" And I said, "what do you mean JUST a teacher?!

    On another occasion our staff was at 5star restaurant and the pop group "Boys to Men" appeared. All the women excitedly got up to get pictures and autographs except me.

    The deputy principal asked me why I didn't get up too. I said "they're singers. I'm a teacher. They should ask for my autograph."

    I didn't know relievers existed till I came to New Zealand. And after some time as one, I have nothing but admiration for the challenges they have to deal with.

    I would definitely ask for your autograph.

  3. If you were a fossil, you would be a liopleurodon of learning! I think you do not know how admired you are for you pedagogical prowess! God bless you Donna! God bless!