Monday, March 19, 2007

Mangakirikiri and Amokura - 2 Rides one weekend!

On Saturday morning Kurt, the Boss and I rode the Managakirikiri stream. It's a great 45k ride. Kurt and I took a dive out of the mud pool and I did one head first dive into a gorse bush. We decided to have two rides this weekend as we are preparing for the 3 day Odyssey.

On Sunday the same three, as well as newcomers to THE LIST Rachel and Ross, left the Boss's and met up with Brian and George at Woodlands school. We learnt that Teds and Aaron were leaving later and would catch us. I think they think we are a bit slow. Still no sign of Barry - the one who grissled the most about not being on THE LIST. It's an awesome ride up Amokura Road. We had to negotiate past a rampaging bull. It's moments like that that you wish cyclists didn't wear bright clothing! At our first stop the signs of problems began to emerge. Aaron (of course) discovered that his new chain had a sticky link so we spent hours trying to fix that.

We then split into a couple of groups while the repairs continued and agreed to meet at the next ford. Only 3 of us (me, Ross and Aaron successfully rode across the ford) which is disappointing because it was an easy one. At this point we discovered that Brian appeared to have a chian which was too long but we told him just to suck it in and get on with it. He wasn't going to need his small cog at the back any way as we set off on that relentless climb to the gate.

Just after we took off we heard the gunshot that meant Aaron (of course) had blown a tube. We had already started climbing so we were stopping for no-one. I climbed in 38 minutes which is my best yet. Ross drafted behind me until the last few hundred metres and got to the top first! The others followed closely behind with Rachel claiming that she hates climbing hills, though she climbed strongly in 50 minutes. (After the nerve and body shaking descent that followed she claimed that she hated downhills - no pleasing some people.)

Jared arrived at the top and then set off back down!!! to find Aaron. Guess what? He had two further punctures and now had no tubes. As the photo shows we inspected the tyre and found it had a hole worn through it. With great group thinking we applied a tube patch inside and then taped a piece of old tube (of which Aaron now had quite a few) inside the tyre and everything was now hunky dory.

The descent was difficult as it is very steep with tight hairpins as the photo shows and the rocks were big and loose!

We finally made it back to the Boss' for coffee and toast. Another great 50k ride!

It was great to see new list entrants Rachel and Ross turn up. Where are you Barry?

Monday, March 12, 2007

Another Day at Opotiki College

Despite an early night last night I was still exhausted from yesterday's ride - see previous post. Running a school is hardwork at the best of times let alone when you are a bit shagged. But it has been another great day - still plenty of issues to deal with (kids dodging, some disrespect etc - the run-of -the-mill when working with almost 600 teenagers) but there is a feeling of satisfaction when the team works so well to calmly deal with everything that comes our way.

I've just received data which shows the great work we are doing with literacy. Our 2006 Year 9 group arrived with 57% scoring in the bottom quartile in literacy assessment. Our testing at the end of last year reduced that to only 25% in the bottom quartile. This is an outstanding achievement and is a credit to first of all the English Department but to all teachers in general. No wonder our NCEA results are so good.

Most of the day was spent meeting parents and students to help solve little problems. I have been out of school quite a bit so I have also been busy catching up with staff. It makes for busy times. I have worked out that for the remaining 18 days of school this term I will be here for 10 of them!

The highlight of the day was meeting with my Aspiring Leaders group. We spent 45 minutes talking about how leadership must impact on improved student achievement, about the importance of clarifying our individual moral purpose when it comes to teaching and about how we can make leadership sustainable. We then decided we would focus in our next meetings on difficult conversations, sustainable leadership, professionalism and influencing teachers to help the school achieve its goals.

There is no better place to work than where you have people to have these conversations with! Bring on tomorrow!

Motu Magic

Sorry, no photos this week as the boss was absent with leave so we had no camera. Actually a camera would have been perfect to catch that wonderful, painful expression on Jarrod's face as I sped past him when climbing the Papamoa. It was similar to the look on Brian and George's face as I did the same!!!

Anyway, back to the start. Another Sunday, another great adventure. This time Kurt, Lea, Jarrod, Aaron and George met at Hanaia for coffee and we picked up Brian at Tirohanga store. We headed up the Mighty Motu Road to climb to the top of Papamoa and return - a ride of 72k. Leigh also did a solo ride to the top of the Meremere and back - 50k by herself which is a great achievement!

Jarrod and Aaron had gone for a wee bush walk the day before and claimed they were a bit tired. I led for the first 7k which I thought was a bit long as I waited for the next rider to have their turn in front. We hit the base of the Meremere together but soon separated as Lea set out on her own challenge to be the first to the top. All were left in her wake, but she didn't know that I was looking after those at the back, because I'm that sort of guy! Unfortunately, I continued to have seat problems as my quick release was not working and my seat slowly sunk to the bar!

The summit was totally clouded in and we continued onto the Papamoa after leaving Aaron to fend for himself dealing with a puncture. We hit the base quite a distance apart, but an awesome climb on my part saw me haul in everyone but Lea, but I was hauling her in! As soon as I caught her at the top she insisted we head down straight away to really rub it in! Who was I to argue?

Two great downhill rides saw us all gather at the 16k bridge to wait for Kurt who had developed into a bit of a heavy weight during the ride. Jarrod was unable to wait as he was in if I stop now I stop for good mode. On the way we had passed a group of children on a wide range of bikes. When Kurt finally turned up he announced that he might be stuffed but no kids on BMX bikes were going to beat him. At that point he discovered his flat tyre and the kids came past before he could fix it!!

We then split into 2 groups. The caring and sensitive Maurie and George stayed with Kurt to nurse him home while Lea, Aaron and Brian sped off in the distance. We caught them on the Main Rd trying to fix Aaron's broken chain. We were catching them anyway!!

Juice, coffee, passion fruit and muffins completed a great but exhausting Motu Meander.

That's my version of events anyway!!!!!

Monday, March 5, 2007

Blue Mountain Blues Chapter 2.

We've just climbed Gaskills Rd to the forestry gate and about to enter the awesome Blue Mountains. Little did we know that Destry and Glen would break a chain each and that my seat bolt would shear off. We rode for 3 1/2 hours but were out for 5 hours. Despite the dramas it was a great ride with some tough relentless climbing and some scary downhill. I think only 3 of us successfully rode the last bit of treacherous downhill - Jarrod and Aaron and myself (though I did have a fall near the top!) It was also great because of the turnout - the Boss, myself, Kurt, Lea, Jarod, Aaron, Brian, Hamish, George, Glen and Destry. The day before Leigh and Shirley attacked Meremere Hill. They are supposed to be the more sedate crew!

More photos of the ride if you click here.

Sunday, March 4, 2007

Blue Mountain Blues

29k into an awesome 60k ride in the Blue Mountains behind Opotiki a loud bang and sudden pain in my nether regions signaled that my seat bolt had sheared off. Major personal damage was avoided and I collected my seat and other bits and pieces from the trail. A committee meeting on the side of the track resulted in a piece of string being produced and some ‘spare’ electric fence tape attached to a nearby post being procured. The seat post was dropped as far as it could go and we roped the seat on. Of course the 29k mark signaled the end of 90 minutes of climbing with steep and very technical downhill in front of us followed by a series of stream crossings before the final 20k sprint down the Pakihi Rd to Opotiki. You certainly don’t appreciate how much you use your seat for bracing (and sitting on) until you discover you can only use it sparingly. As well, having the seat 30cm lower than the best position makes for awkward riding. Team this up with the fact that the last time I went out with this group 3 weeks ago I fell off at speed (I was nearly in front though!) and broke a couple of ribs so it was quite a tentative ride down and out. Fortunately two other guys broke their chain on this particular ride, so our repair skills have been tested.

The attached photos show that the temporary repairs held up until the end.

Saturday, March 3, 2007

We've reached the end of week 4 of our new year. Though things are very much as normal I do feel we're in the best shape we have been for a while. We're certainly basking in a feeling of contentment because of those great NCEA results and there seems to be a wider understanding and, dare I say it, acceptance by the staff of what we're trying to achieve in this school.

Closer analysis of our results shows that we still have a bit to do to lift the achievement of Maori students. It is pleasing to see that Maori students do better here than they would elsewhere. It is also important to note that this is not at the expense of the achievement of all others. In fact, students of all gender and ethnicity are doing well. Only one non-Maori student left Opotiki College last year without at least NCEA L1 and this student was only with us for Year 9 and then a few weeks in 2006 as a Year 12 student. Our challenge is now to ensure that the situation with 25 Maori students leaving without NCEA L1 is improved. Te Kotahitanga will have a huge impact here.

Yesterday we had a great Teacher Only Day with world guru Margaret Thorsborne working with the whole staff on Restorative Principles. Once again I was spellbound. All staff I have spoken with found it very valuable. It was interesting that by morning tea time she was able to identify the couple of staff who were along way from being on board this kaupapa.

I firmly believe that the stuff that we are doing in this area will make for a better world. Teachers will benefit from a less stressful environment, Senior Management Team members wont be burnt out by being sacrificed on the detention pyre, students will develop and learn in a respectful environment where they will hone their emotional awareness and parents will feel respected. All who pass through our school will go on to take their part in the world, wherever that mey be, and be able to make a fine contribution as a result of their time here with us.

More Cellar Rats

I knew you would want to see these photos. The team is a bit confused because everyone believed that Maurie was going to run the last leg, but it appears his father has turned up and run it. We can tell this by the big forehead and very aged appearance.

Note the flash medals in the team photograph.