Thursday, 5 October 2017

Post PPTA Annual Conference Thoughts

After recently attending Mahi Tika 2 - an employment relations course facilitated by the PPTA (see my reflection here), I was encouraged to attend the annual PPTA conference. The conference was based in Wellington, so I was fortunate to be flown down there for three days to learn about what's happening within the union, and to network. These are the major things I was left thinking about, after an intriguing experience, completely throwing myself in the deep end!

One of the most contentious papers discussed was a salary increase for teachers. It is well known we have a considerable workload, and compared to other professions aren't paid particularly well. Teachers are often heard saying they do it for the love of the job and the kids - but at the end of the day we still need to pay the bills! So I was really interested listening to the discussion about salary increase on the conference floor. Because, as Sam Oldman (South Auckland teacher) highlighted "many [teachers are] being pushed out of teaching by workload, stress and low pay" in his recent article discussing what life is like in a low decile community. I really liked this article as I could relate so much of his story, to my own experiences at Tamaki College.

The paper I backed most, was the diversity paper - supporting schools to be safe places for students, staff and whānau from minority gender and sexuality groups. Acceptance and ongoing support of LGBTQI is incredibly important, as are all minority/diverse groups, to ensure feelings of safety within the school environment. Upon reflection, I feel there are staff within our school who want to be supportive of minority gender and sexuality groups, but are unsure how. I think some uncertainty may be because of a lack of understanding/education. Therefore, I would like to work with the other Health teacher, to possibly create a presentation for the staff about the gender and sexuality spectrums, and as a result the staff may be have greater knowledge of how to be supportive. Or, we could request a full staff session from Rainbow Taskforce or Rainbow Youth, which would also likely support our Health programme. It was timely having this discussion when RY released this incredible ad this week (a discussion which I regularly have with students!)...

One of our guest speakers, Dr Mere Berryman (University of Waikato). My key takeaways from her presentation were; 

- The NZ Education system is of high quality and of low equity
Kia Eke Panuku schools have greater academic success for both Māori and non-Māori students when compared to non-Kia Eke Panuku schools, and
- Poutama Pounamu is dedicated to reducing the challenges faced by Māori, in hope to increase success within schools - their research and website also provide resources to support other educators
- The alongside visual represent the 'ako critical contexts for change', which bring to light the parts which interweave within teaching and learning

After Mere's presentation I really liked Mere's closing whakatauki/proverb:
"Ma te huruhuru, ka rere te manu,
It is the feathers that enable the bird to fly."
I was really left thinking about all of the feathers this could be referring to, and thought these words were powerful. I am now wanting to have a weekly whakatauki with my 2018 tutor class, as something to refer back to throughout the week with the students!

Overall, I really enjoyed the conference, learning a lot and making new connections. I am looking forward to further opportunities within the union, and definitely the 2018 conference!

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