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December 2021 Update

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Murray and his lockdown haircutKia ora koutou colleagues,

This will be my final newsletter of 2021 and I hope it finds you all well.  Probably a bit stressed – particularly if you’re an Auckland teacher – but even if you’re not, you’ve undoubtedly got end-of-year ‘requirements’ looming up fast.

All’s good with me, and I’m about to undertake my first face-to-face visit to a school tomorrow.  Gives me a taste of what 2022 school visits will be like though – have already sent through my vaccination record (yes, I am double-vaccinated) and have my face mask at the ready.

And my partner is continually reminding me, ‘Don’t forget to wash your hands as often as possible Murray’.

There’s four points I want to cover in this newsletter:

  1. Enhancing the security for our on-line resources;
  2. Reporting on some on-line PLD I’ve been undertaking with schools;
  3. Reporting on my YouTube reading and writing videos;
  4. Signalling a January course I will be undertaking for Learning Network in Auckland.

1. Enhancing the Security for our On-line Resources;

Login Changes


You will have read in my previous newsletter that we are enhancing the security for our on-line resources by introducing a ‘two step identity authentication’ process, just as many of you use for logins elsewhere, or for downloading data and resources from other sources.

We think it’s easy and straightforward and we very much hope you’ll agree.  In a nutshell, our login process is changing to help protect and verify your account.

Here’s what you need to know:

  • You now need to add your mobile number when logging in;
  • If you have not added a mobile number yet, you’ll be prompted to do so at your next login;
  • When you add your mobile, we will send you an SMS verification – called a One Time Passcode (or OTP);
  • The OTP helps us verify you and keep your account safe and secure;
  • Once you’ve added your mobile, you will be able to log in faster next time and use it for password resets;
  • For any common issues, please visit our FAQ page for details.
  • If you need assistance, we are here for you! Please get in touch via email.

2. Reporting on Some On-line PLD I’ve Been Undertaking with Schools

Murray Gadd is demonstrative!


Of necessity, I’ve had to resort to on-line communication with some of my contracted schools over the past three months.  I don’t mind admitting that I was rather dreading it – I’d convinced myself that there is ‘nothing like face-to-face contact’.  I’d still prefer face-to-face – and look forward to it next year – but I have to say that I’ve actually really enjoyed the on-line PLD that I’ve undertaken and can really see the potential of it as time goes on.

In addition to several on-line whole-staff meetings that I’ve undertaken, I’ve been employing two broad approaches:

  • Working with small groups of teachers for 60-90 minutes on teaching and learning topics that we’ve mutually agreed on.  Because of the time of year, these have generally been summarising meetings of all that teachers need to do to ‘be effective’.  One literacy leader reported back to me, ‘I know it was a bit trying for you but you did amazingly well to bring the Murray Magic to our teachers and they are all re-inspired’,  As another said, ‘The teachers all loved them.  They appreciated the ‘summary’ aspect as it prompted them to think about what they had forgotten and need to work on’.
  • Working one-to-one with teachers at planning a writing lesson from achievement data they had gathered, them filming themselves taking the lesson and sending the lesson through to me for analysis, the teacher and I discussing the lesson in relation to ‘strengths’ and ‘next steps’ followed by a written analysis of their lesson.  Each of the facilitator-teacher sessions lasted for approximately 40 minutes.  One literacy leader texted me to say, ‘Teachers have said it was so useful and they LOVED working with you on it!!’

I’m sharing this with you as I am now convinced of the potential of using on-line PLD with teachers and am quite excited by this.

Let me know if you’d be interested in me doing something on-line with your teachers such as the above.

3. Reporting on My YouTube Videos

Murray Gadd is demonstrative!

As you know, I began making and putting these videos on to YouTube during the initial Level 4 lockdown in 2020, all free to teachers and as my koha to teachers, tamariki and their whanau during very challenging times.

I have continued doing this during our most recent lockdown.  As an indication of their usage during lockdowns:

  • There are now 2370 subscribers to my Writing at Home channel.
  • There have been 93,702 downloads of videos during the lockdown periods.  This is in addition to the many Vimeo downloads there have been – and of course all the plays on the Murray Gadd website.

I am, however, about to take the most recent writing videos off the channel (as no schools are in total lockdown now) and will be continuing to provide them through the online subscription resource.

As some teachers have requested, I will also be writing and uploading the Teachers’ Notes for these in due course.

4. January Course for Learning Network in Auckland

I love leading these courses – on the effective teaching of writing – and will be leading one on Thursday 27 January.  Click here to find details of this course.  At a similar course I did at the beginning of 2021, over 170 teachers attended with some schools regarding the course as part of their TOD activities.  It’s a great way to start your school literacy year off and I look forward to meeting many of you at next year’s course.

In the meantime, have a lovely Xmas everyone (that’s the first time I’ve said that this year) and a great and safe holiday break. 

Roll on 2022!!

Murray & the team

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