Wednesday, 26 August 2015

Area School Magic

“I define connection as the energy that exists between people when they feel seen, heard, and valued; when they can give and receive without judgment; and when they derive sustenance and strength from the relationship.” 
― Brené Brown 

Ive just spent three full days with one of my networks.
I’m all for networks, and Ive spent a lot of time building my personal learning network online over the last couple of years. 

But this was networking on a  different level.

Five years ago this week I took up my role as a Principal of an area school. 
And this week I spent three days at our national  conference with other Principals, DP’s/AP’s teachers and BOT members of area schools all over New Zealand. 

I don’t know if I can ever remember feeling as at home and as comfortable in a room of 100 people as I have felt over the last three days. Ive only seen most of these people once a year over the last four years. Some I was meeting for the first time. But there is just something different about this group of people.

I love connecting with different people online, and I certainly did a bit of promoting of various electronic forms of collaborating and connecting with these delegates. We all teach, and usually live, in isolated places and we need to ensure we continue to build those connections, so that our learners benefit from our connections with the wider world.

But three days together with people kanohi-te-kanohi who have such a commonality was just amazing.  These people all get how different teaching in an area school is. They get the special challenges, but more importantly get the special magic. 

We had a great range of keynotes and workshops. We had busy leaders in education such as Minister Parata, Louise Green (President NZEI), Angela Roberts (President PPTA) and Lorraine Kerr (President NZSTA) all take time to come and speak about both understanding the challenges, but also celebrating the rewards of, area schooling.

Student achievement awards delivered during the dinner demonstrated just what high quality the learners in these remote and isolated part of our country are. They are certainly not deprived “country bumpkins.”

I don’t know if its the shared commonality or the mixture of leaders, teachers and BOT members that make this conference one of the most enjoyable of all I attend. Probably its a bit of both.

The area schools network is certainly a real family. I heard this repeated over and over by so many different people. We are family. I can find a thread of commonality with a farmer from the deep South and then find that same thread with a lawyer from the North. And there is something really special about learning, teaching and leading in an area school. Again I think its that family thing. You become a real family within each area school and then your extended family is that connection of other area schools up and down the country.

So thank you to all those people Ive re-connected with over the last few days, and welcome to those new connections to my network. Ive got renewed energy, sustenance and strength from each of you.

Mauria mai te taki (Rising above the Challenges) was the theme of this years area schools conference.

Maybe next year it should be Celebrate the Magic.

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