Anxious no more

anxiety

I don’t have time to do anything else! I don’t have time to craft, or to do things for me. I have too much homework to do.

These are the words of my daughter. She has just turned 15. She is in Year 11 doing NCEA level 1. She is intelligent. She already has a couple of excellences under her belt. But she is stressed. She is anxious.

This post is a few days late for the March #EdBlogNZ challenge. The challenge is to write about your dream school. I had done a bit of thinking and thought it was going to be about all the amazing things I would like to see in a school, but as a parent, watching my children go through school, I’m seeing their stress levels increase. It’s not good.

So in my dream school, right at this point in time, while I would like all sorts of technology and opportunities for the students within it, I would first and foremost like to see a school that truly values the health and wellbeing of their students. I’m not saying these schools are not out there, or even that any school doesn’t value this, but sometimes it appears school work, teacher expectations or qualifications take precedent.

Both of my eldest children are feeling exceptional pressure from school at the moment. Miss 15, as described above, and Mr 10 who is in Year 7. Miss 15 has actually recently blogged about Anxiety in the classroom. It’s worth a read.

Yes, education is important, but as a parent I have to put the wellbeing of my children first – and that means before school, before qualifications, and yes, even before teacher expectations.

I don’t have any amazing ideas for how to reduce anxiety of students at school, but I do believe that raising awareness about this issue is important. I do believe that some educators (myself included) just have not really considered it, or if we have, we still have to get through all this work with our classes before the end of the year, and therefore do not know how to manage it.

Perhaps this is something we can all consider for now. After all,

He aha te mea nui o te ao
He tangata, he tangata, he tangata.

What is the most important thing in the world?
It is people, it is people, it is people.

IEP – Where is the individual?

This post is a reflection on the IEP (individual education plan) meeting I attended for my son recently. I don’t mean any of this as a criticism of the school, but simply as observations and a reflection from my perspective as a parent (and yes, as an educator).

The first thing was (and to be honest, I thought of this before the meeting), where was my son’s invitation to attend the meeting? Surely, if we’re looking at his education plan then he should be involved – especially by Year 7. He may or may not have much to contribute, but he should be given the opportunity. I did actually ask him if he would like to attend, but as he was already home, sick, he decided he’d rather stay in the warm house! If he had already been at school, I might have asked for him to attend. I really think it’s important that the child attend these meetings to bring the focus back to learning rather than what will the teachers do all the time. The child then also knows what is going on and was a part of the decision making. As it turned out it was more about “this is what we want for him” and “this is what we (the school) will do to make it happen”.

The second thing was that as the parent, I felt that I should have been invited to speak first. This was possibly just an oversight, but I do believe the parent (if not the child) should be invited to speak first in this type of meeting. The reason I feel this way is that otherwise the school staff drive the conversation and concerns of the family get relegated to the end rather than brought out at the start.

Thirdly, education jargon needs to go. Yes you’re in a room full of educators, but most parents are not. Not everyone understands what a stanine is or what “5b” means in relation to asTTle. I did, but they didn’t know I was in education until I pointed it out later on.

Interestingly, my son had his goal-setting interview the day before the IEP meeting. I would have thought, therefore, that his goals would have been a part of his IEP. But this was not the case. It seemed to me to be more focused on what the teachers would do. Yes, it was to help raise his achievement in various aspects and support him, but there was no onus on him to do anything.

Finally, don’t rush. An IEP meeting is not one that you should rush through. These are important decisions being made about the future of a child. As a teacher, it might not be the only child you need to consider, but for the parent in the room, right then, their child is the most important person on the planet. Rushing can make it feel like you don’t want to be there or that the meeting is just a bit more of a bother for you.

The quiet learner

This post is part of the #EdBlogNZ 2016 Challenge for the bonus Leap Day challenge. The challenge was to “stretch yourself and create an audio or video post about a passion of yours”.

I have focused on being an introvert and a learner. My audio recording is below and beneath this is a transcript of the recording.

Transcript

 

introverts uniteIn a group I can feel isolated. I can feel alone.

Sometimes I can feel more alone in a group than when I’m on my own.

Words wash around me, over me, through me.

I might have something good to say. Something relevant to the conversation. But it’s too late. I didn’t speak up in time. The time has passed. The conversation has moved on.

I might be questioned on the topic. I had something to say, but now I’ve been put on the spot. My mind is blank. My thought has gone. And now I feel even more alone. People are waiting for a response and I have no words to speak.

Talk with me one on one. Give me time to think and to process and we can have an in-depth conversation. Don’t bother with small talk though, I can’t keep that up. I’ll answer your questions about the weather or about what I do. But they will be short and to the point.

Engage me with my passions and I can talk with you. In fact, I might not shut up.

You see, I’m an introvert. I value my own thoughts and my own space. I don’t need to be alone, but I don’t need constant attention.

When I was at school, I hated being put on the spot by my teachers. I might know the answer or be able to respond, but as soon as my name was called, it was gone. My stomach would start to churn. My face would go red. I appeared as if I didn’t know anything. It was unfair.

Yet, I found myself doing this as a teacher.

Why?

Because I hadn’t understood my own personality. I hadn’t understood my introversion.

I despised group activities as a student. If it was only with one other person, I could manage. But with a larger group I felt my voice could not be heard.

However, I found my way with working online. Put me in a collaborative doc, and I can contribute. My voice can be heard. Throw me into a fast-paced Twitter stream and I will love every moment. I’m in a crowded online space yet physically I’m on my own. I am happy, I am learning, I am contributing and I’m engaged.

 

Image source: Joe Wolf, Flickr – CC BY-ND 2.0

The weight of the world [A very personal post]

I’ve been considering writing a post like this for some time. It’s very personal to me. It’s not specifically about education, but I believe it’s relevant for us all.

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I’m living with depression. Not mine, but it’s in my house and has been affecting my life for about the past 2 years. After noticing that my wife was struggling to get things done, and was struggling to cope around people, retreating into herself, I wondered if she had depression.

A trip to the doctor. Diagnosis: Depression.

[Read a blog post from my wife about her experience, and a related poem she has written]

Medication prescribed. Assumption correct. All good right? Uh… No.

This is not the first time for her. She had depression as a teenager (before I knew her), but I had seen her go through both ante- and post-natal depression, including at one point at the same time! So I knew a little bit about the signs, but had never seen anything like this.

She was low.

Very low.

And there seemed to be nothing I could do about it.

Why? Because I didn’t understand what was going on for her. I didn’t understand that this wasn’t a feeling for her. She didn’t just feel sad or down.  It wasn’t something she could control. I couldn’t just get her gifts or do things for her, or to help her, to make her feel better about life. She would smile and appreciate what I was doing but she was still depressed and was still spiralling down further into the pit of depression.

She tried to explain to me what she was going through. I didn’t understand. She explained in other ways and while I kind of started to understand cognitively, I have not been through it myself, I don’t really understand so cannot fully empathise with her.

I learnt to give her space. That’s what she always wanted. Space from me, space from the kids, space from the whole world. She was happiest on her own, reading on her iPad or phone.

But she wasn’t happy. She was escaping. And it wasn’t people she was escaping, although that’s how it appeared. She was escaping herself and what was going on in her head.

It took me a long time to realise that. I often felt neglected. Rejected at times. From my perspective she didn’t want me around. She didn’t want the kids around. Our teenage daughter felt the same. She knew Mum was going through depression but she couldn’t help her and often felt pushed away. This has created a stronger bond between me and my daughter while I’ve tried to support her (and our other kids) through it. A positive out of quite a negative experience. The younger kids don’t really know what’s going on but there has at times had to be some careful stepping in from me to safeguard them. Not from anything dangerous, but also from the feeling of being pushed away.

My wife loves us all incredibly. There has never been any doubt. But sometimes it was hard to see. She went to huge efforts at times to show her love to us, which unfortunately cost her at times as she was then so exhausted from the effort that she ended up very low for the next few days. She tried to hide what she was going through and just keep living her life as best she could but when she did, she dropped lower and lower.

In the meantime, my teenage daughter has also been diagnosed with mild depression and was not in a good state for a while. I now have two people to support who have been diagnosed with depression. Two people who needed to feel loved, safe and secure.

The battle with depression in our house has included:

  • Isolation and loneliness for both those with and those without depression
  • Feelings of rejection
  • Suicidal thoughts / cutting
  • Lots of tears
  • Misunderstandings
  • Difficult relationships
  • A rollercoaster of emotions

It can be frightening for all involved. There are often more questions than answers.

What can I do? How can I help? Why are they so low? Why can’t they just switch it off? Why are they trying to hide it from me when I just want to help and support them? Why can’t I help them?

It’s heartbreaking to watch loved ones suffer this way and not be able to step in to help or fix it.

The weight of the world is on those suffering with depression, but in many ways it’s also on those loved ones trying to support them.

The good news?

My wife is currently much stronger than she has been in the past 2 years. Through lots of talking, discussion and tears from both her and I, we realised, only about 4-5 months ago, that one thing that wasn’t helping her was the constant feeling of not accomplishing anything during the day. She felt like she was doing so much but she could see no results from it. Nothing was quite getting completed.

The result of our discussions? A daily tasks list and a reward scheme. It seemed a bit odd to be setting this up for an adult, but what this has meant is that she has a clear plan of what needs to be accomplished every day and she doesn’t jump from one thing to the next and not finish anything. Her reward? Time out on her own. This is the thing she needs most to then be able to interact with people again, including her own family. She gets this anyway, but she appreciates being able to bank up her rewards and take a full day out if/when she needs it. Since setting this up, she has on the whole been doing much better. She’s happier with life overall and spending more time with and around people. Her medication has been changed and the dosage reduced.

I’m not trying to say that this is a magic bullet. We have other support mechanisms in place, but having this structure has contributed to helping my wife over the past few months and is now also helping my daughter (she’s trialling it).

My wife started studying again last year and is achieving well. She still has her ups and downs and we still have difficulties that we work through as best we can when they arise. It’s been a long road and continues to be one, but there seems to be a way up and out of this pit for us.


1 in every 6 New Zealanders will experience serious depression at some stage in their life.

If you think that you or someone you know is suffering from depression, get help:

Image in the public domain.

Tuakana teina and mentoring

I’ve just read this blog post from Karyn Gray: Ma te tuakana te teina e totika. Ma te teina te tuakana e totika.

It’s well worth a read, but I really wanted to share one key point from it.

Karyn talks about some of her mentors and mentions that 3 of them are younger than her and some are less experienced, but this does not matter. Karyn is still able to learn from them and be challenged.

“Tuakana teina is not about age or even about experience. Its about knowing who is going to challenge you in a constructive way and help you continue to learn regardless of your position or theirs.”

This is mentoring. This is the mentor/mentee relationship. It’s also a reminder that both the mentor and the mentee can benefit from this relationship.

In my wider work I often work with teachers/school leaders who have far more experience (and age) than I do. Sometimes I wonder how I can be helping/supporting/guiding them, and yes, nerves can be there sometimes! This post has reminded me that we ALL have something to offer. It’s also not about having all the answers but working together to work through the issue/focus they currently have.

Models for virtual mentoring

Mentor

As a part of the VPLD Developing Virtual Mentors course, we have been looking at two models for virtual mentoring. The GROW model and the R-Ropraha model. This post is just my quick summary/reflection on the two models.

GROW model

Model developed by John Whitmore,  Graham Alexander, and Alan Fine.
The GROW model: A simple process for coaching and mentoring.

Goal

Reality (current)

Options or Obstacles

Will or Way forward

This model is simple and straightforward. It is starting with the goal, looking at where things are currently at, what can be done/what is in the way, and the next steps to achieving it.

For virtual mentoring (or perhaps any kind of mentoring) it doesn’t give the opportunity to get to know the mentee. That is, it doesn’t allow for building any sort of mentor/mentee relationship. The whakawhanaungatanga is missing. For some people this might not be an issue. They want to just get down to business, however for others this could be crucial in order for the mentee to feel safe to discuss issues/problems etc with the mentor.

The GROW model is very task focused and in my view not so person focused.

R-Ropraha model

Model developed by Dave Burton.

Rapport

Reality

Options

Preferred option

Resources

Action

Help

Accountability

In my view, this model is similar to the GROW model except that it starts with whakawhanaungatanga (rapport), and then the Will from the GROW model is broken down further to create a bit more of an action plan (what resources are needed, what is the action, what help is required).

What would I use?

I prefer the GROW model over R-Ropraha just because it is simple. I would perhaps change it slightly to become W-GROW – including Whakawhanaungatanga at the beginning to help establish rapport/relationship between mentor and mentee.

Should the Key Competencies be integrated into teacher professional learning?

10191190673_2cba7027f9_zI’ve been working on a workshop for use in a school around integrating the key competencies (KCs) into learning using digital technologies. This got me thinking about whether I should be purposefully considering the KCs in regards to teacher professional learning.

Question: Should the Key Competencies be integrated into teacher professional learning?

  • Are the KCs only relevant to school age students?
  • As a lifelong learner, shouldn’t I also be wanting to continue to develop these competencies in myself?

The Key Competencies page from the New Zealand Curriculum website states (emphasis mine):

People use these competencies to live, learn, work, and contribute as active members of their communities. More complex than skills, the competencies draw also on knowledge, attitudes, and values in ways that lead to action. They are not separate or stand-alone. They are the key to learning in every learning area.

The competencies continue to develop over time, shaped by interactions with people, places, ideas, and things.

Let’s take a look at the KCs… (all quotes below from Key Competencies page on NZC website)

Thinking

Thinking is about using creative, critical, and metacognitive processes to make sense of information, experiences, and ideas. These processes can be applied to purposes such as developing understanding, making decisions, shaping actions, or constructing knowledge. Intellectual curiosity is at the heart of this competency.

In teacher professional learning, I don’t want teachers to take everything at face value. I want them to think, to question, to critically examine what is being suggested/demonstrated. I want them to question their own ideas, beliefs, philosophies and practices. It sounds obvious, but teachers have got to continue thinking critically. It’s a part of growing professionally.

Using language, symbols, and texts

Using language, symbols, and texts is about working with and making meaning of the codes in which knowledge is expressed. Languages and symbols are systems for representing and communicating information, experiences, and ideas. People use languages and symbols to produce texts of all kinds: written, oral/aural, and visual; informative and imaginative; informal and formal; mathematical, scientific, and technological.

Teachers do this daily. Not only do they support students to make meaning of the codes expressed in learning material, they also have to interpret the codes given through student body language, sometimes jumbled ideas/questions and more. In teacher professional learning it’s important for teachers to be able to make meaning of what is being shared within their own contexts for their particular group of students and their needs.

Managing self

This competency is associated with self-motivation, a “can-do” attitude, and with students seeing themselves as capable learners. It is integral to self-assessment.

If I’m running a teacher professional development workshop it is usually made quickly clear to me those teachers who don’t have a “can-do” attitude (at least towards the digital technology I’m using/introducing). They are nervous, and quite honestly, some of them don’t appear to see themselves as capable learners. Until now, I’ve always considered this as simply a lack of confidence but perhaps it’s more than that? It makes me wonder what I can do to help teachers manage themselves and boost their self-motivation.

Relating to others

Relating to others is about interacting effectively with a diverse range of people in a variety of contexts. This competency includes the ability to listen actively, recognise different points of view, negotiate, and share ideas.

Going into different schools is straight away putting myself in front of a “diverse range of people in a variety of contexts”. So I can see this important to me. For teachers in those settings, I guess I make that context change. Our teachers though will always have a diverse range of people in front of them and (at least) each year will have a different range of people as classes change. While the context might seem the same each year (it’s their classroom after all), the fact their is a new range of students means that the context will change. Those students have different needs and it’s so important that teachers continue to be able to relate to others.

Participating and contributing

This competency is about being actively involved in communities. Communities include family, wh?nau, and school and those based, for example, on a common interest or culture. They may be drawn together for purposes such as learning, work, celebration, or recreation. They may be local, national, or global. This competency includes a capacity to contribute appropriately as a group member, to make connections with others, and to create opportunities for others in the group.

This is big for me. When in a teacher professional learning situation it is quite important that those in the room are able and willing to participate and contribute otherwise the session can fall flat very quickly. Yes, there is a need for good facilitation, but the active involvement is also critical. It’s also important that teachers don’t wall themselves off in their classroom but become involved in their school community both on campus and with the wider community. Being actively involved in subject associations, as well as professional learning networks (PLN) is so important to help ensure we continue to be lifelong learners and continue to think and question what we (and others) are doing for our students. How can we grow effectively without making those connections to others?

My challenge

So now the challenge to myself is to ensure that I purposefully consider how the KCs can be integrated into the professional learning workshops I facilitate. I need to think about how I am helping those I’m working with grow professionally.

 

Image source: Flickr – Denise Krebs CC BY 2.0

Webinars

WebinarAs part of the Virtual Professional Learning and Development (VPLD) Developing Virtual Mentors (DVM) programme I’ve been encouraged to think about the webinars I’ve been involved in and consider what I observed. This post is me reflecting on just that.

I’ve had the privilege of both participating in and facilitating education and training webinars. Many of these would like be what Nicky Hockly would call “Chalk and talk”. Apparently the least effective type of webinar.

Hockly identifies in a blog post, Four ways with webinars. These include:

  1. Chalk and talk – eg. slideshow and talking – kind of lecture style
  2. Talk and talk – interview style where a facilitator questions a guest/expert
  3. Listen and do – where a facilitator talks through a tool/activity while participants are actually trying it out
  4. Guided tour – where the facilitator shares their screen and takes participants through a process or website, for example.

While I’ve said that the webinars I have been involved are probably Chalk and talk, they possibly also have aspects of Talk and talk as well. At all times participants are encouraged to ask questions in the text chat area or raise their hand, take the microphone and speak.

Like with a lot of things, I don’t think there is one right way to do things. I for one am not good at talking to fill in that radio silence that you can sometimes get in these types of situations when no one is talking. If I think of a one on one mentoring session, sometimes I think that these silences can also be important. They give time for thinking, reflecting, and even just looking for the right words. Sometimes silence is important.

I think too that some people like a big introduction to a webinar and to hear about this new tool or that interesting thing, but others prefer to have a short introduction and just get into the main session. Is one way right or wrong? No, they’re just different.

Thinking again about Hockly four types of webinars, it’s important to consider what the purpose of the webinar is and decide what is most appropriate. Listen and do and Guided tour could be great for training sessions but not necessarily for introducing the group to a new idea or for group discussion.

So for me, the main thing to consider when looking at webinars is… What’s the purpose? And then you can decide on how that webinar will look or be run.

Stop finding solutions!

How To Escape Problems
I mentioned in an earlier post that I want to question more. This includes in my general day-to-day work. I’ve still got a long way to go with it, however both as a facilitator and virtual mentor I see the need to ask good questions and even answer questions with a question to guide whoever I’m working with to find their own solutions.

I was just thinking about how I seem to be hard-wired to try to find solutions. It’s a bit like what the marriage/relationship books say. When your wife comes to tell you a problem she doesn’t want you to fix it! Except… I think that often when teachers/school leaders are telling me a problem they are wanting me to come up with a solution.

But is that my job? Am I there to solve their problems or perhaps to help them see things in a different light?

While I’m not likely to come out with a, “this is the answer you’ve been looking for!”, I do suggest things that they could try or give examples of other schools or teachers that might help. But perhaps I need to be putting things back on them a little more? Should I be questioning their questions? Or maybe paraphrasing or rephrasing what they have told me so that they can hear a slightly different perspective?

Somewhere I can work on this is at home. My children often come to me and my wife and tell them a problem they have. They often don’t ask for help or sometimes even try to find a solution to their problem. I will often try to guide them to find their own solutions (with varying degrees of success).

I know that sometimes I just need someone to bounce ideas and thoughts off of. Perhaps we should be doing this more. Help guide those we work with, whether they be children, teenagers or adults, to find their own solutions instead of relying on others to always be there to help them out.

What do you do when people come to you with their problems?

A day at Puniho Marae

This post is cross-posted from the Virtual Learning Network, Enabling e-Learning group Beyond the Classroom blog.

I had the privilege, on Monday, to be able to spend the day with Jason Ruakere on his marae. This was very much a step outside of the comfort zone for this city lover. For me it really was like being in another world. I was out of the city. The pace was slower. It was more relaxed. I was introduced to eating Pūhā – which Jason had collected and cooked with pork bones – and immersed (at least in a small way) into Māori culture.

Reflecting on this it makes me sad that it was outside of my comfort zone and that of many other New Zealanders because it should be a part of what makes us Kiwi. The Māori culture may not specifically be my culture but it is part of my Kiwi-ness. Speaking for myself (although I’m confident this is the case for many Pākehā), I am quick to embrace some parts of Te Ao Māori when it suits me (the haka as a part of our rugby and sporting culture, for example) but other parts I tend to shy away from. I know this is due to a lack of understanding on my part – understanding of what is being said or done and why it is happening.

Puniho Marae

Purpose

As a part of my inquiry this year I really want to find ways to connect with and engage with parents, whānau, and the school community. From my perspective, this is an area that many schools struggle with. By getting the opportunity to spend time with Jason, and the boys he has been teaching on the marae, I was able to experience a way of learning that is relatively unfamiliar to me but is quite normal for a large number of families in New Zealand.

Pōwhiri

On arrival I was welcomed onto the marae with a karanga from one of the “aunties” and a hongi with all present. I have to say I was grateful that is was just a small affair, which included the 5 boys that Jason has been teaching, as I think if everyone had been asked to come to the pōwhiri I might have felt a bit more uncomfortable. Jason gave a short mihi and I responded with a mihi that I had managed to learn (and get all the way through without checking my notes!) in the three days leading up to the visit. We then went around the group sharing our pepeha, starting with Jason and ending with me. This was a good chance for the boys and me to practice our pepeha.

Kōrero tuku iho

A quick break for morning tea before it was time to hear some of the stories of the marae and local area. I found this fascinating and really wished I had a better memory to recall all that was shared! Jason had been sharing the stories with the boys and continued the tradition of oral storytelling by encouraging the boys to share the stories with me. And they did well! It was great to see them supporting each other as they shared how Rauhoto, the rock that placed on the marae, came to be there. How Taranaki maunga had followed the rock from the central North Island area after losing a battle with Tongariro maunga over the beautiful Pihanga.

It was great to see the boys’ fascination and interest in the photos of people within the various whare. They were interested in the stories about them, and how they fit within the history of the area. It helped reinforce to me the importance of whanaungatanga.

Between the dining room and whare we passed a couple of mill stones. It amazed me that the boys would likely have walked past them many times but they had never asked what they were or where they came from, but then I realised I probably would’ve done the same if Jason hadn’t pointed them out to me! Jason shared that there used to be a number of factories in the area and the marae used to be a very busy place with many more houses situated around it. There were a number of dairy factories as well as a flour mill. The mill stones came from the nearby flour mill next to Werekino stream at the end of Komene road.

Mill stones at Puniho Marae

Te Reo and technology

Before the boys had to head back to school at lunchtime, they showed me some of the work they had been doing on the iPads. This included drawing and telling the story that I shared above of Taranaki maunga’s journey to where it is today. The purpose of this was for the boys to retell the story of the maunga in their own words. One of the boys told me he didn’t like writing with a pen because his writing wasn’t very neat and he found it difficult, but was happy to type stories on the iPad. They all said it was fun but they were confident they were learning.

I was also shown some of videos they had made using rākau (Cuisenaire rods). The boys had Te Reo lessons, after which they photographed each stage of their learning and recording their voice to help with pronunciation. Using Educreations they were able to revisit the lesson to reinforce their learning.

Jason then took us through a quick lesson in Te Reo using the rākau. Although a simple lesson, I found it a little challenging having to listen carefully for the words I did recognise (numbers and colours) and pick up the correct number rākau of a certain colour. Then Jason changed the words slightly to something he had taught the boys recently and I had to listen carefully to what he was saying to the boys and what they were doing as a result. Instead of saying a particular number, he was saying “tētehi” meaning “one of” and “ētehi” meaning ”some of”. I was not familiar with these words at all and had to interpret their meaning as he was talking to the boys.

As a teacher of science in my past life, this was a good reminder that we can sometimes speak another language (in my case scientific vocabulary) that our students have to pay close attention to, in order to understand! Teachers/educators/academics often speak another language too!

Parihaka

After lunch, Jason took me to Parihaka – a significant site during the land wars in the latter half of the 1800s. He explained his connection to Parihaka and also the stories of the main leaders of the various marae. While I don’t remember all of the details, I really came away with a sense of community and belonging for those of the area. There is so much history and meaning for the families living there and those from the area.

Beyond the classroom—engaging the community

From a school perspective, the trip to Puniho emphasised to me the importance in making connections beyond the classroom with the local community, whānau and marae. As a school we should be aware of the history and tikanga of the community in which we are situated. Connections to this knowledge can be made through the learning that occurs in the classroom.

Schools are busy places. As a result it can be easy, sometimes, to fall into the trap of “ticking the box” in regards to community consultation and engagement. Schools are a part of the community in which they are situated. Instead of having a hui at the marae – taking school-specific business to the marae – what if you decided as a school to build partnerships with the community without a set agenda? What if you took your staff and/or students to sit amongst the koroua, kuia and others gathered at the marae and let them tell their story? This may help the school to develop an understanding of its place within the community as well as helping the wider community feel comfortable to speak into the life, goals and plans of the school.