The library I work in at Southland Boys’ High School has been a flurry of research activity this year! Last term Year 7 & 8 classes were researching World War I, Year 9 & 10 social studies classes a variety of events from the 20th century, Year 12 biology classes were discovering element of the abyssal zone and Year 13 history students were investigating New Zealand-focused topics.
This term has already become a real juggling act to accommodate all the research that’s happening. The Year 12 history classes have come onboard the research train with conspiracy theories, English classes are researching inventions as well as conspiracy theories, and our lovely Year 7 & 8 classes (all 11 of them!) are undertaking individual research about a conflict of their choice, following on from their WWI topic in term 1. To say we are a busy library would be an understatement!
I am an immigrant. I came to New Zealand in the mid-sixties as a toddler with my parents, a young couple then in their early 20’s who arrived with £20 in their pocket and a huge dream for a new life. After 50 years they acknowledge it was the best move they ever made!
This meant I started my schooling here at the beginning of the 1970s, and while at primary school I learned to make a poi* and to play tī rakau, the Māori stick game, (I can still sing the song!) I learned very little, if anything about Māori history or culture and have remembered even less.
*poi – a light ball on a string of varying length which is swung or twirled rhythmically to a sung accompaniment.
As an adult, and since beginning my career in education almost two decades ago, I have muddled my way through situations that required some understanding of Māori tikanga, feeling uncomfortable and somewhat out of my depth while also feeling it had no bearing on me or my heritage.
However, that is no longer true, and the catalyst for this change was the Mātauranga Māori within New Zealand Libraries workshop I attended just over two years ago. It was delivered by Anahera Morehu and her team through Te Rōpū Whakahau at the Murihiku marae in Invercargill and it was awesome. I certainly came away from that day with more knowledge about tikanga, te reo & kaupapa Māori, but it was the epiphany about my relationship to these that was transformative. If you get the opportunity to attend one of these workshops, please please please do it! It is because of this very positive experience I began my journey towards understanding Māori ‘s connection with their whakapapa & their place in the world.
As a result of attending this workshop and listening to Victor Manawatu speak to our staff about local Māori history last year, I approached Leon Dunn, one of our wonderful staff members at Southland Boys’ High School about helping me to write my mihi*. I came to realise that a large part of my reluctance to use Te Reo Māori was my insecurity regarding pronunciation and not wanting to offend Māori by speaking their language incorrectly. Big thanks to Leon for helping me to face my fears and do it anyway!
*a Maori greeting, formal welcome speech, or expression of thanks
Then the rubber met the road when I was recently provided with the opportunity to use my mihi in public for the first time. I had been invited to present to the senior students at Aurora College about successful learning and felt it was not only appropriate but necessary for me to begin with my mihi. I admit to being more nervous about delivering a 30-second mihi than an hour-long presentation on information literacy skills!
Being courageous paid off when the Year 13 group applauded my mihi efforts! I was stunned and delighted, and when I shared with them that this was the first time I had been brave enough to do this in public they further encouraged me with a “well done, Miss! That was awesome!”
I now treasure a whole new appreciation gained about the power of mihi, mixed with the strong sense of pride and belonging it can bring, putting your own story together, sharing your lineage, your family roots in this way.
My regret is not embracing my fears earlier as it would have been very special to have been able to introduce myself in my country of birth using my adopted country’s native language when I presented at the LILAC Conference in Glasgow in 2012. I will not miss another opportunity like that again!
Today I had the absolute pleasure and privilege of working with the Year 12 & 13 students at Aurora College in Invercargill. Aurora is a small co-educational Year 7-13 secondary school, which is part of the group of schools working in our project.
Following on from our initial Hui in February I was invited by their lead teacher Kirsten Erasmus to present an introduction to their senior students about information literacy skills needed for successful learning.
I had two one-hour sessions, the first with Year 12 students and the second with Year 13 students. I kicked off by talking about what makes us successful learners and why a positive attitude is vital to push through when things are hard.
We then went on to cover
the importance of following a research process
using a research pathfinder to keep on track
Google searching strategies for successful searching
Libraries: What we are, How we surprise, What we could be
I had so much fun putting together my recent contribution in Weve! It was one of the most colossal, creative and confronting pieces I’ve ever worked on. I felt a huge sense of responsibility to put something meaningful together and a huge sense of accomplishment at the end. However, I had stepped completely outside of my comfort zone and I was nervous. Had I nailed the brief? Did it make sense? Had I communicated my message, or just ended up being too obscure? I hope it says something to you and that it’s worth hearing. Then check out the other amazing contributions to the latest edition of Weve on Heroes Mingle.
Weve is one of the publications I mentioned in my recent post about professional reading, so I’m thrilled to have been invited to contribute to the latest edition!
This challenged, stretched, excited and frightened me, all at the same time! I’m so proud of stepping outside of my comfort zone and creating something new. I’ve always been a words girl, so parsing my words right back and selecting just the right ones with the right images to express my thoughts was definitely moving beyond comfort. I enjoyed the brainstorming that went along with this immensely! Thank you, Sally and Megan for inviting me to do this, and then actually using my little movie!
Here is another one of Cambridge High’s library manager Glenys Bichan’s fantastic initiatives. This time it’s combining a splash of food and a pinch of libraries with a bushell of people in a special concoction to become their inaugural Librarian Master Chef competition.
Five teams had to cook two courses based on the themes of books they chose. The teams were:
Harry Potter-concocted “Mrs Weasleys Corn Beef” sandwiches.
Percy Jackson, “Greek Burgers” complete with feta and olives.
Alice in Wonderland had food coloured pasta in a dish called “The Chesire Cat”.
Lord of the Rings made “Dragon Eyes” out of eggs
And the winning team Winnie The Pooh made amazing “Poohs Honey Ginger Bread”.
Food preparation took place in the Food Tech Room and the judging panel consisted of the Deputy Principal, a maths teacher who happens to be an ex chef and the school’s head students. The Principal made a point of checking it out. (I imagine to get in on a bit of the taste test action!)
As if this inventive, creative competition isn’t enough in itself, Glenys as usual, is all about the business of people, as we discovered in her inspirational posting about the two Jaimees in her library. She sees events like this as her way of having input into the lives of her students, making memories for them of their time as part of her library team.
And it brings disparate groups together who might not otherwise associate. She witnessed potential head students working alongside autistic kids; beside students with significant illness; beside kids who have gained recognition nationally for their areas of giftedness.
In her own words: “We have the opportunity to really, positively impact the lives of these students in powerful ways! They loved it, and being the family they are laughed a lot – it was just a bit tricky stopping the year 10 boys tea towel flicking!
The food was stunning and the planning amazing – two weeks they plotted. They did so well. Jaime the Giraffe, of course came as well, only his team, which included me was disqualified!!”
School librarians are a crucial component in enhancing the student learning experience, and while I acknowledge there is huge and important work being done in the development and support of a reading society, in this post I want to focus on information literacy teaching through the library.
Information literacy has never been more important than it is today, yet resources and support for the programs and people who are best-suited to teach and facilitate information literacy has dwindled in too many schools and districts across the nation. Even as the demand for accountability grows and mounting evidence continues to affirm that school libraries staffed by certified school librarians make a measurable difference on student achievement, library resources are too-often reduced or eliminated from budgets all together. – School Libraries Work! A Compendium of Research Supporting the Effectiveness of School Libraries
There are many excellent educators working in our…