Friday, July 17, 2009

On The Way Home Thoughts

Now sitting on the plane from Penang to Singapore. After a final fish spa at Batu Ferringhi and a couple more shirts for Leigh we checked out of our hotel, put ours bags in store and spent the last hour in and around the pool before using their great showers and waiting for our transfer to the airport.

He arrived on time at 2.30 and we headed to the next hotel to pick up 2 guests. We waited for them for 35 minutes as they had gone off for walk. We then had a mad dash to the airport through heavy traffic. It took us an hour when normally 40 minutes. I was a bit worried as we had already left 35 minutes late. However, we arrived at the airport an hour before departure and check in went smoothly.

I am now sitting across the aisle from a Chinese man who is doing what they seem to do best – sniffing great lumps of mucous continually. There's only about an hour to go so will try to block him out. Oops, there he goes again!!!!

While the last 5 days have been holiday I have enjoyed having a bit of time (when Lucy lets me relax!) thinking about how to tie together the best stuff from the Restorative Conference in Vancouver and the best stuff from the ICP conference in Singapore. I am close to pulling it all together for our TOD on the last day of this term.

I have been invited to run a staff workshop at Wairoa College on the Friday of the second week of term and will aim to trial some of the stuff there and use them as guinea pigs! I am thinking of entitling it Leading Restoratively as I think it is time to develop all staff as leaders in this area rather than them relying on others to lead for them. I reckon we are at that point and with the leadership of our Aspiring Leaders Group we should be able to move our people to the point that the natural response is one of respectful conversation at all times no matter the provocation.

I am firmly of the view that in an adult-student situation only one party has the ability to escalate or de-escalate the conflict and that is the adult. This was reinforced both by the Kaikoura boys in Vancouver wirth their presentation and at the IPC and the American wahine's presentation.

We are now sitting at the departure gate in Singapore for the final 10 hour haul home, which will be followed by a five hour drive to Opotiki. Yeehah!!!

Curry Puffs For Lunch

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This photo shows the woman cooking our daily lunch of curry puffs. She lives in the residential flats next door and cooks and sells only curry puffs every day. She was there last year when we visited and she provided our lunch then as well.

We are now back at home. It was quite a long haul from Penang to Opotiki. The flight from Singapore seemed to be long as i had trouble getting comfortable enough to sleep. Did mange to read the complete book 'Outliers' by the Caldwell dude (The Tipping Point) which is an excellent read on what determines success.

We picked our car up OK and managed to drive home from Auckland without falling asleep. Mum was waiting for us with dinner all cooked which was great. I have just woken up after 13 hours sleep but still feel discombobulated (a great word). I will need to spend most of the next three days at school mainly dealing with emails and whatever else is on my desk so i am half ready for work on Monday.

Had a great time and no complaints from me. Looking forward to getting fit again.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Our Waitress at Long Beach Food Court

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Every night in Penang we dined at the same food court - Long Beach and were seated and served by our waitress Ti who looked after us each night.

We have 2 hours before we check out, then spend an hour at the pool then catch our ride to penang airport before we start our flights home.

Last night I ate some of the hottest chillis I have had for a while. They brought on the famous Abraham chilli hiccoughs!

We bought a few final items from the hawkers on the way back and took some photos of the hawker scene which can see from the link in the previous post.

We are about to head off for a final fish spa, final shopping!!!! and final curry puffs for lunch.

The other night when I raced home early as the curries were efficiently making their way through my system I was propositioned by a prostitute hanging out in the garden near the entrance of our hotel!

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Wrestling with snakes in Penang

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Here's the evidence along with more photos from Penang. This link will take you to the full set with the last 12 being added since the last post.

Today is our last full day on holiday as we start coming home tomorrow. We started quite late as we slept in after another great feed of spring rolls and murtabak and chapatis and curry and noodles and veges at our favourite food court. We spend $11NZ a night on drinks and about $10-$15nz a night on food. Outstanding!

Today started with Lucy and I paragliding. We were talked into it by Joe, a clone of Rex, who worked hard to get our custom. It was cool, but more like 5 mins thn 15 mins. He dipped us in the water after take off and lucy got a jelly fish sting which we didn't discover until later. The instructions were unclear, the equipment looked suss but we hae a great flight and landed elegantly in the sand.

After that while Lucy and Leigh headed home I ordered our standard 20 curry puffs from our favourite stall holder and walked home via Uplands International School to take photos of where my next job will be!

Since then it has been lazing by and in the pool on the hottest day so far. Leigh and Lucy went to pick up Lucy's tailored Ball Dress which looks great.

I'm now supping on an Ecstacy Hour (more than happy hour!) beer and generally relaxing surrounded by both skimpy bikinis and women in full burqua!

Heading home tomorow.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Feasting in Penang

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Here's Leigh and Lucy at the food court we dine at each night. Last night we had satay and sizzling prawns!

Today was a full-on day as we went on an island tour. We started by visiting a batik factory where we bought some stuff. We then climbed into the hills and visited a fruit stall where we bought some fruit and nutmeg oil.

The highlight was visiting the snake temple which I visited in 1983 and when I was too scared to hold a snake. This time Lucy and I had a boa and viper around our necks!

After there we visited a flash manufacturing jewellers which was way out of our league. We then visited a Penang chocolate outlet and bought some curry and some chilli chocolate. From there we went to a coffee outlet, sampled a range of Penang coffees and bought some espresso.

Our final stop was a pewter factory which had some neat stuff and we bought some of it!

A few hours were needed recovering by the pool.

Check out the photos.

On The Beach at Penang

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Today's weather was better. We had a swim early on then went down the road to buy some gifts for Lucy's friends and my head students. Once again we had curry puffs for lunch and then walked back along the beach fighting off water sports touts - will most probably do paraglide on Tuesday. Drank coconut milk from a coconut on the beach on the way.

Lucy and I had a game of tennis then after a couple of beers beside the pool are now leaving to head out for dinner.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Fish Spa Treatment

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Service at Penang Airport

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Raffles Hotel Long Bar

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Our Singapore Hotel Foyer

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Lucy swimming with the fish

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On The Beach at Sentosa

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Fish Spa!

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The Food!

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The food is the highlight of any trip to this part of the world. Here's Leigh and Lucy tucking into a curry at Little India in Singapore. The full set of photos of the trip to date are here.

We are in our first full day in Penang and there has been heavy rain. We had a neat feed of spring rolls, murtabak, chicken and rice and chicken and chapatis at the local hawker site last night.

The highlight of today was attending the fish spa where you dangle your feet and hands in the water and nimble fish come along and eat all your dead skin cells. Most of them hung around me! It was a difficult sensation to get used to, but once you did it was real cool.

I had to sprint back to the hotel as the various curries were making their way through my system. Leigh and Lucy stopped at a tailors and Lucy got measured up for a ball dress.

We're about to head down for a swim and laze by the pool since the rain has stopped.

End of Conference

I was really knackered after a full-on conference day but we jumped into a taxi and headed out to the zoo for the Night Safari. We began by watching a cheesy Creatures of The Night show with otters, a boa constrictor, hyenas and some cat-like things. We then jumped on the tram for the tour through the Himalyas, Africa and Asian Rainforests we got great close-uos of hippos, rhinos, elephants, giraffes, deers, tigers, lions and other possumy, wombatty things. Half way around we got off and walked trails to look at leopards, flying squirrels, otters and bats. Lucy now has a morbid fear of bats after getting up close to a real squawker.

We eventually got home at 11.00pm having had no tea, but too tired to care.

Today was the last day of the conference and it started very strongly. Professor Kishore Mahbubani gave an Asian perspective of the world, both its past and future. He commented on the growth of China and India in particular and his surprise when western commentators expressed surprise. His view is that Asia has been the dominant power in the world for almost all of the world's history and that it has only been the last 200 years that the west has had dominance. The world is merely returning to its natural state.

He identified 3 paradoxes. The first is that the globalisation of western education has contributed to the decline in western dominance in the world. The second is that this means that non-western elements now need to be included in the curriculum. The third is that at a time when the rest of the world is opening up the west is becoming more closed.

His suggestions were to continue the globalisation of western education as this has contributed to the growth and development of critical thinking and to a reduction in poverty, to introduce non-western elements into the western curriculum so that the west can begin to understand different cultures and that students can understand the inter-connectedness of the world, and that ther has to be a two-wat street of ideas between the west and east because both world views are valid.

His analogy is that the world use to be like 192 different boats (countries) floating on the sea and that we merely needed rules to prevent them colliding. Now we have 192 different cabins on the same boat with no captain or crew, but most are just worrying about their own cabin. His question to us is to imagine the limitations when the education system only teaches about its own cabin!

He got a standing ovation from the 1500 present.

The second speaker was Professor David Perkins whose topic was educating for the unknown. His big question was what is worth learning. He proposed a checklist of Enlightenment, Empowerment and Responsibility. If material did not empower people to take action and to contribute, if it did not enlighten people or did not enhance a person's sense of responsibility then it was most probably not worth learning.

His little poem was:

Taught a lot but matters not
Not taught but matters a lot.

He talked of a concept of 'flexpertise' which required one to have an understanding of the wide scope of disciplines, to concentrate on ways of knowing (thinking skills), to develop ethical understaandings (empathy, spirituality, equity), to develop personal and societal understandings (leadership, collaboration) and to include horizon themes (current important themes).

We need to reduce what is in the curriculum using his 3 criteria of empowerment, enlightenment and responsibility. His suggestion is to pick the richest topics first, work in some of the others, just touch on some and then drop some!

I then headed off to a workshop on designing a new curriculum which I was really looking forward to only to find out the presenter hadn't turned up and there was a presentation on the Turkish education system. I politely left.

I cruised through the exhibitors stalls and spent some time speaking to two consultants from the UK who were like agents for Guy Claxton and his Building Learning Power ideas. They had produced some great looking resources which I am going to consider purchasing. The one I liked was a unit on astronomy which used the BLP ideas, was corss-curricula in nature and included PD for teachers. It was on a DVD but costs about 500 pounds. There was also another DVD on BLP strategies (hundreds of activities apparentl) but about the same cost. I did manage to talk them into giving me their display copy of their text Building Learning Power in Action.

The astronomy thing would be great for our pilot integrated curriculum class and the text would be great to work with the whole staff on the Key Competencies.

I also missed the next workshop because I was a bit tired but also there wasn't much on offer. This conference has been very higth quality, especially with the keynote speakers but the workshops have been a little limiting. There seems to have been little choice for secondary schools in our context. I suppose I was looking for more on school leadership, though I did get plenty of that from the keynotes.

While dodging I ran into ex REAPer Mike Scadden who is now doing consultancy work on brain stuff. He talked to me about opportunities teaching overseas which piqued my interest and could be the next move for me as I can't see myself taking on the leadership of another school (unless it was brand new, and especially if it was in Opotiki!!! - anyone can dream!)

The closing ceremony was a bit low key, but the confrence has been great.

I then joined up with Leigh and Lucy and we walked off to that place I said I would never go to again – The Long Bar at Raffles Hotel (last time cost $200 for 6 drinks!). Leigh had a Singap[ore Sling, Lucy had a non-alcoholic Singapore Sling and I had a beer – only $65 this time.

We then walked off to Lau Pa Sat food hawkers and had a great feed of satay (chicken, beef and prawn)– another must in Singapore – washed down with a glass ofr sugar cane juice. We then ambled back to our hotel to pack.

Lucy and Leigh informed me that the 8GIG Ipod that Lucy had bought was for mwe and in the morning we were going to Orchard Rd to buy her a 16GIG Ipod. Aren't they generous?!

After our final sleep in our luxurious hotel (not looking forward to the bill) and final hotel breakfast we sprinted to Orchard Rd by subway, bought the Ipod and got back to check out.

I'm typing this up sitting on the SilkAir plane about 40 minutes from Penang and the next bit of our adventure.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Conference Day 2

Last night we headed off to Maggie's again for a feed of spring rolls, fried rice, sweet and sour chicken, brocolli in oyster sauce and chilli prawns with a Tiger and Tsinghao beer.

The conference today was very high quality. The opening address was by Andy Hargreaves who mapped out his view of the Fourth Way that education ans schooling was entering. This requires principals to have an impossible dream for their school, to aactively seek public engagement, to involve students as partners in change and to deliver mindful learning and teaching. He outlined the three principles of professionalism of high quality teachers, powerful professionalism and lively learning communities. His 4 catalysts of coherence are sustainable leadership, schools-wide networks, responsibility before accountability and the development of targets together.

The next speaker was Michael Furdyk who has just turned 27. His address was inspirational who is a co-founder of which is a youth generated website which allows young people to actively contribute to changing the world. His goal is to make caring cool. His website and opportunities to contribute and design could easily be the basis for a full school curriculum. His web site and links to and teachers site will be compulsory visiting for those of us who intend to help redesign the Opotiki College curriculum.

I then attended a workshop entitled The Naked Principal which was run by an Irishman, Sean Cottrell, which looked at a model for a principal to gain feedback on his role from teachers, students and parents.

The next presentation was by Jane Bluestein on managing naughty kids. I did not hve high expectations of this presentation, but it was outstanding. In one hour she outlined 10 simple strategies which allow teachers to turn every interaction with difficult students in to a win-win situation, though it does require teachers to make all of the changes. Her view is that almost all poorly behaved students are 'non-traditional' learners that teachers need to teach differently. She aims to have teachers to work successfully with these students which means no punishing, no banishing, no failing and no not changing.

Her 10 steps briefly (all of which require much further investigation on her website) are:
1.Create win-win power dynamics
2.Offer choices within limits
3.Focus on positive consequences
4.Use boundaries instead of rules and punishments
5.Be consistent about follow-through
6.Focus on what they're doing right
7.Use recognition in place of praise or conditional approval
8.Increase success for all students
9.Eliminate double standards
10.Take care of yourself

I then wandered into a workshop on the NSW laptops in schools programme by mistake and got stuck there, so I had a bit of a rest.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Little India and Day One of Conference

On Sunday night we went to a local food hall for dinner where Leigh and I had a nice murtabak and Lucy became adventurous and tucked into a biryani. I think some more shopping was done and we got back home and I began watching the Wimbledon Final, got hooked and stuck with it until the end at 1.30am. What a game. It certainly showed that no matter how far you are behind you just simply have to win the next point! That simple!

On Monday morning I registered for the conference and on way back to the hotel bought a pair of Asics running shoes for $95. We then jumped on the underground and went to Little India where we visited Mustafa's and lost Lucy for 45 minutes which was a bit stressful. We calmed down by dining on somosas, dahl and a melon lassa (yoghurt drink).

That evening Leigh and I put on our glad rags and walked to the Esplanade (Singapore's version of the Sydney Opera House) for the opening concert. After a couple of glasses of wine and catching up with some kiwis we took our seats (three rows from the front) and were entertained for two hours by some awesome school orchestras, choirs, brass bands and dancers. I also got a chance to talk to Belinda who is the president of the local version of SPANZ who had hosted Terry and I last year.

We then met up with Lucy at a local Noodles Bar and dined on chilli chicken udang.

Today was the first day of the Conference which has 1500 participants. The highlight of this first day was the 60 minute opening address by the Prime Minister who outlined the Singaporean education journey and its strategy for the future. His catch cry is “Teach less, learn more.” He was outstanding and exhibited the type of leadership which is sadly lacking in our country. I plan to send the link of his address to John Key and Anne Tolley.

They have had a clear strategy which has included big pay rises for teachers in return for performance-based pay and class sizes of 40 students. They have now moved to reduce that to 30. They have aso ensured a strong base of support to schools from the central agency. Schools are also very well resourced. There was no talk at all of recession which seems to be the focus of any conversation in NZ from the government. Educational spending is rising by 5.5% this year!

There was also an excellent keynote from Sir Dexter Hutt (a knighthood for services to education!) who addressed the issue of 21st Century Leadership. He re-emphasised that we don't know what the best model is for a school of the 21st Century other than that it should be positioned to cope with change and that the curriculum should provide regular opportunities for students to research, work in teams and present to an audience. He also claimed that the most important qualities to develop in young people to prepare them for the future are self-confidence and self-esteem.

I then went to a disappointing workshop on Differentiated Instruction but I managed to design some more jigsaw puzzle pieces (the symbolism we use at Opotiki College to show the linked bits of the complex puzzle of effective schooling) to show the connections between curriculum, pedagogy and relationships.

Leigh and Lucy visited Orchard Rd and I think are a bit mall saturated but Lucy had a good go at a chicken curry. She's talking about Ipod prices!

Now we just have to plan dinner.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Day 2 in Singapore

Sunday is our second full day in Singapore. It took quite a while to get the girls moving this morning, but we finally boarded our bus to Sentosa Island which is a fun-park-like resort.

We started with a luge ride, then took the pleasant nature walk down to the beach. It was very warm so we had a swim in the ocean along with lots of young people who are here for the Asian Youth Games and the beach volleyball which is being held on Sentosa.

After lunch we visited the Undersea World which is a bit like Kelly Tarltons.

On the way home it began to rain quite heavily. We got separated in SunTec but we all eventually made it home where we are resting before thinking about dinner.

Lucy is really enjoying herself and is doing a bit of shopping!

Rotorua to Singapore

The NZQA workshop in Rotorua last Thursday was a little annoying. Some of my fears were allayed, but my concerns about the direction NCEA is moving have not been put to rest. All regular curriculum subjects will have any unit standards converted to achievement standards. There will be a greater weighting of internal standards (you will not be able to have more than three external standards in a subject). There will be 20 literacy and numeracy standards available below curriculum 6 level. Students wishing to take an alternative English or Maths pathway may be able to take a course made up of these standards, some US on Communication English and some L1 ASs. Gone are the opportunities to do USs at Level 2 or 3.

I believe the balance has gone too far towards credibility and away from accessibility. NCEA L1 is not the final qualification we are aiming for for our students and we are too angst ridden about it. We are much better served by ensuring as many students as possible gain L1 so that they are motivated to aim for L2 possibly over 2 years.

After that Leigh, Lucy and I drove to Hamilton and took Thomas out to the Curry Pot in Hamilton East for dinner. It was great to catch up with him. From there we drove to Auckland and crashed in our Airport Hotel.

Things went smoothly at the airport apart from the computer having difficulty recognising us which caused some consternation for the check-in people. The flight was straight forward, but struggled to sleep so was a bit long. Watched a couple of movies (Broken Flowers, Sunshine Cleaning and something else).

Lucy had her bag randomly xrayed at Singapore.

Our hotel is very flash (5 star I think) but they had fogotten Lucy was coming so we have had to get another bed squeezed in.

Yesterday was a very busy day. We bought a concession touring ticket which gave us 48 hours to do heaps. Yesterday we did the City Hop on Hop off bus tour, followed by the Duck tour in the bay, followed by the Heritage Hop on Hop off bus tour, followed by the River Boat tour, with time for a quick pint!

Our hotel is in the SunTec Towers area and borders the Fountain of Wealth (world's biggest fountain!) and we have never returned by the same route, often getting horribly lost in the crowds at Suntec.

We finally made it back and spent some time in and beside the pool.

At about 7.00pm we heasded off to the Singapore Flyer (35m taller than the London Eye!) where we had a great view of the dress rehearsal fireworks for National Day celebrations occuring next month.

All day soldiers in tanks, pilots in helicopters and jets, and sailors in boats have been charging around practicing for the celebrations. They do this every Saturday to make sure they get it right on the day.

After our Singapore Flyer ride we wandered over to Beach Rd and had a great feed at Maggie's Restaurant. We ate there twice last year and really enjoyed it. We had chicken and cashew, hot plate beef and ginger, spring rolls and bok choy. All washed down with a cold Tiger Beer.

Got home in time to see the last 30 minutes of the Lions South Africa test and crashed.