Tuesday, 15 January 2019

"Congrats on your work anniversay" - a navel gazing post...

"Congrats on your work anniversay" - a navel gazing post about the last two years and a look ahead at 2019

Linkedin must have decided to announce my work anniversary because I had a few messages and likes in my Linkedin notifications this morning (not that I use Linkedin much). My two year anniversary with the Treaty Grounds is coming up next week. If you looked at my CV, you would note that there is only one job I have held for longer than 2 years. I'm a bit of a wanderer, I seem to get bored easily; the first year in a new job is all about learning, about mastering challenges, and in the second year I get comfortable, to the point of boredom, and then I seem to move on. Pretty stupid really, because going through a first year again and again sounds much more fun than it often is! So what have I achieved over the last two years?

When I started here, there was no exisiting staff member in Team Education, in fact during 2015 there had been several staff changes in the team, so no one was really able to induct. I started on the same day as a teacher who I had met before, and together we learnt to swim rather than sink. We learnt the required content with the help of colleagues, such as our guides and especially our Curatorial Manager who we share an office with. We dealt with bookings that were made before our time, often on top of each other, at times triple-booking us two. We learnt what we could cope with and what not. We learnt about the Health and Safety at Work Act, about minimising and / or eliminating hazards. For the first few weeks, every Monday morning at Staff Meeting other staff and the boss seemed relieved that Team Education had not thrown in the towel lol, and over time we seem to earn respect of visiting teachers as well as those members of the public (and even some colleagues) who weren't sure if a group of children or teenagers really ought to be here or really needed a staff member to look after them.

We had gotten through our first term, had gotten to May, felt much more confident and comfortable when we went on a trip to Wellington and Auckland to see the actual Treaty documents and how 'Museum Education' was done elsewhere - and then we threw out the rule book and started from scratch. Without a ME background, and without induction from an experienced Museum Educator, my idea of what education at the Waitangi Treaty Grounds should be is heavily influenced by Future Focussed Teaching and Learning and by what I know about good pedagogy. Thankfully my colleague just rolled with it while we worked out what it would look like, personalising every visit from a school, creating a connection between visitors and Waitangi, adding practical activities that result in a take-away, something that the visiting classes or individual students could take away with them etc. At the same time in collaboration with our H&S Manager I tidied up our RAM forms, edited our H&S plan, wrote an Education Vision, created Annual Plans, wrote Milestone Reports to the Ministry of Education etc. etc.

Education is in the Statements of Intent for the Waitangi National Trust (in fact the first of several SoI), and our CEO is very supportive of the work we do, so for FY 2017/2018 I was approved budget to get a third teacher in the team. Rob was awesome but he had other places to be, so ended up moving to an AP position - well deserved, and from his messages he is very happy there. At the beginning of 2018 we had a new teacher join the team; she slotted right in as a trained teacher and with experience from a different role at the Treaty Grounds. In the meantime we had started offering Virtual Visits to Te K┼Źngahu Museum of Waitangi, we are now working with international student groups as well as our domestic students and we offer Holiday Programmes (usually during the second week of the school holidays) which are well frequented by local families and visitors with children from further afield - work life is busy!

We have a strong connection with Te Papa Tongarewa through our CEO and through me to Tara Fagan and their Ed Team, so in 2018 we ended up joining with Te Papa, Auckland War Memorial Museum and MTG Hawkes Bay into the Raranga Matihiko Programme, a PLD programme funded by the Ministry of Education to support the implementation of the Digital Technology Hangarau Matihiko Programme. This is 'right up my alley' with my previous experience in Teacher PLD and with my passion for transforming learning with the help of digital technology. For many years I had said that our rural students who are away from many things city kids take for granted deserve to have the best possible teaching and learning to make up for that - and here is my chance again to help make it happen :) After the changes to the PLD system I felt the sector was getting diluted, lots of commercial competition for PLD work with schools, facilitators pitched against facilitators, something I hadn't been used to in my previous facilitation role under the Te Toi Tupu Consortium. While I had toyed with the idea of going back into PLD work, the opportunity hadn't arisen until now. I have written about the work we do in Raranga Matihiko in previous posts. I love the work, but it is hard work. It is long hours, little time to do anything else - and as I continue my role as Education Manager at the same time as being a full-time facilitator for Raranga Matihiko, I feel like I'm always running to catch up. On top of my other work, I am also responsible for our Waitangi Day Speech Competition, and I oversee the administration of the Bay of Islands Education Network.

As part of the Raranga Matihiko contract we have employed a fourth teacher - she is equally amazing as the other two <3 - and to help out with the ever increasing demand we have been approved funding for a part-time Education Administrator as well as a relieving teacher - Team Education rocks! In addition to our exisiting work, we have started working with an increasing number of professionals (mainly from education and social work related professions) both face-to-face and online. We had both a LEOTC and a RM evaluation during Term 4 and both of them were very positive. 

So just like in previous jobs, my first year was all about learning, about mastering challenges, and my second year was like that again when we started RM. Given the long hours I put in, the stress I felt, I had been tempted to apply for a facilitation job that was advertised before the holidays. Sometimes I lose sight of what I have achieved with the help of my team and the support of my boss; in the end I felt there was too much at stake that I had built up - and leaving a permanent job for a fixed-term one didn't sound like a good idea either. Unlike in my previous roles, it's not boredom that led me contemplate a change but stress, the feeling I can't do it all and well, the worry I might not be able to meet my own expectations and the expectations of others. I also felt there would need to be some sort of succession plan in place to ensure that not all is lost, that what I have built up continues - though some people would tell me this is stupid, it is not mine to decide what happens in a work place when I leave it.

In an ideal world I could just employ another facilitator to take my role in RM and I could do my Ed Manager job as well as relief within my team where required; however, even if my budget could afford this, there are quite likely other departments that look with envy at the growth we have gone through and they might have more pressing needs. The options at the moment seem to drop quality or even a contract - and I'm too stubborn to do either of that (I contemplated using the word strong-willed, but stubborn is probably more fitting) - or to just get on with it. However, I have realised that I won't be able to continue doing everything and do it well forever. I have taken 4 weeks annual leave over the summer, turned off my phone and my emails and it felt good! However, this week, my fourth week, that uneasy feeling is starting to creep in again, the things I ought to be doing... There are a few coding sites I want to check out for RM, and I want to renew my Google Facilitator accreditation simply for myself...

So as I am getting my head around going back to work next week, I'm trying to think of things to put in place to minimise stress:
  • I have already been delegating tasks to my team members.
  • I have a proposal to take to management about training one of my other teachers for RM.
  • Our RM plan for schools in their second year is more streamlined than the plans for first year schools (though still personalised to their topic), cutting down on preparation time.
  • I have cancelled my gym membership as getting up a ridiculous o'clock to go to the gym was adding to my stress.
  • How can I manage my work hours differently: If work doesn't fit into 40 hours, rather than staying an hour or two every night, can I just make it one late night a week? Or could I come in earlier (my teenagers are not up early anyway)?
  • Taking a break: I plan to take the July holidays off again to recharge batteries.

On a different note, Museums Aotearoa 2019 here I come, two of the proposals to present have been accepted, and I am looking forward to seeing what this conference has to offer. I also want to go to the Social Studies Conference in Auckland in the October holidays, and maybe to Ulearn19 in Rotorua. I think I have things to share, but I am really looking forward to learning from others, to be challenged and to grow. After all I have another 20 years or so to retirement, a long time to go still...