"It is a good divine that follows his own instructions; I can easier teach twenty what were good to be done than to be one of the twenty to follow mine own teaching."
Portia, The Merchant of Venice, Act I, Scene II.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

The winds of change: blowing our way...

It's a week and a half into the new term and, as usual, nothing is normal in our college world... (yes, I know that's tautological!)

My 'holiday' was frenetic with finishing major reports and course outline information for next year, attending conference, singing in a couple of concerts for a choir I belong to, writing an essay for my course at the wananga, several days in at college marking, a parent/teacher meeting, being ill with a sinus infection and... a glorious two days off doing absolutely nothing. A lot got done but it was one of the least restful holidays I have had for a long time. In retrospect, much as I enjoyed the NZATE conference (see previous blog posts), it cost me a truck load of money (the school was only paying for about 1/4 of the costs) and it took a huge chunk of time which perhaps would have been better spent catching up on my sleep deficit. It pains me to say this, because I enjoy conference so much and normally get so much out of it professionally.

Week 1 of term was mainly spent helping seniors through the final stages of assessments (Connections for levels 1 and 2, and close reading of film for my Year 13s). I also needed to get my head around my programme planning for the rest of the year, re-jigging as necessary, and there is always the marking I didn't get done in the holidays. Week 2 has been very 'bitsy' as we had a teacher only afternoon on Monday, I had in-school PD on restorative practice on Tuesday afternoon, and today I have been in Palmerston North for a library course.

Which brings me to the 'winds of change' part. Due to the demographics of the local community and the fact that the population bulge is working its way on out, we have had a steady roll reduction in recent years. On the first day of term I was told that in order to reduce our property 'footprint' to our correct entitlement for the reduced roll, the Ministry of Education intends not only to remove some prefabs but also to bulldoze half of the building in which my department (English) and the library (for which I am also responsible) are currently housed. The library and the English and Social Sciences Departments are to be relocated elsewhere in the school, but where 7 teachers currently teach in 6 classrooms we will have to teach in 4. I am sure this makes perfect sense to someone somewhere in Wellington, but to me it seems a little bizarre to go around lopping bits off permanent buildings and the idea of not having a permanent classroom is extremely depressing. However, in this case, mine not to reason why. The decision is a done deal.

So, it is a case of seeing it not as a problem but as an opportunity. The library has to be relocated, and this gives us the possibility to redesign the space to better meet the needs of students, teachers and the community. We have been wanting to renovate the library for a long time, and now it is going to happen.

Moving the English Department will put some urgency around jobs we know need doing, such as deciding which old paper resources should be scanned and retained in electronic form, which kept, and which are outdated and no longer needed. We are going to need to do a big 'clean out' and weed out textbooks which we no longer use or need.

The first priority for me and Sue, our college librarian, will be planning our process and timeline. The move is apparently going to happen in term 1 or 2 next year, so we don't have a lot of time to work in. Watch this space.

Never a dull moment in this job!  ;-)

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