2020 was a tough year for all of us, given the two lock-downs that Auckland educators faced during the year as well as the abandonment of overseas travel. But I finished it nicely. I’m just completing six weeks of relaxing (mainly at home), reading, swimming, walking and a little bit of socialising. I hope your break has been good as well. Here’s a snap of me doing what I do every day during holiday time – relaxing and reading at home.
You may in fact be interested in what my reading was during the end of last year and beginning of this year – have a read of Update on the Arts January 2021. I love to read.
But, overall, 2020 was a good year for me with successful PLD taken in almost all of my 17 scheduled schools and face-to-face overseas PLD that was planned undertaken by Zoom instead. Here is a representative photo of me ‘in action’ during the year – leading a workshop with a group of Year 7-8 students at Howick Intermediate:
My High Point of 2020
Without doubt, the high point for me professionally during 2020 was the launch of my online subscription PLD resource – a set of tools designed to support schools and teachers wishing to promote the effective teaching of writing. So far, I have now developed:
- 8 videoed Murray-Talks about the effective teaching of writing, along with downloadable teacher notes;
- 22 videoed writing lessons, also presented with teacher notes.
- A wide range of free resources to assist teachers
The basis of the videoed writing lessons was of course the 14 writing lessons I developed for teachers and students across Aotearoa during the initial lock-down in 2020. I got such great feedback for these – people (principals, teachers, students, parents) continue to thank me for them – that I saw the potential for developing more and adding explanatory notes. During 2021, I will be developing more (see below).
“Dear Murray, thanks so much from me and our teaching team for your resources. The children love them and have done some fabulous writing as a result. They have made a great starting point for our weekly writing programme. I think they are also an excellent learning tool for our younger, less experienced teachers, giving them some ideas about best practice in the modelling of writing”. – From a team leader at Seatoun School (Wellington)
Getting Ready for 2021
The beginning of the 2021 school year fast looms and, like all teachers, I am working hard to get ready for it. Almost all working days for the year have been allocated already and I am now taking tentative bookings for 2022 and even 2023!
During 2021 I will be undertaking in-depth PLD projects (exclusively around writing) in 18 schools across New Zealand:
- 1 in Whangarei
- 6 in Auckland
- 1 in Tauranga
- 1 in Hawke’s Bay
- 7 in Wellington
- 2 in Christchurch
Some are schools I’ve never worked with before, some are schools that I am continuing to work in from 2020 and several (I am delighted to say!) are schools I am returning to from previous PLD projects. So it’s a big series of Teacher Only Days followed by classroom and small group modelling sessions coming up.
I begin my teaching year on 28th January by working with 140 Year 0-8 teachers in Auckland for a day (organised by Learning Network NZ Ltd) on ‘running an effective writing programme’. Several schools are sending their whole staff to this introductory day. I’ve got a similar day coming up for Auckland teachers scheduled for Saturday 8 May and also organised by Learning Network. I love undertaking these days for Learning Network – Faye and her team organise them so well and the food is always excellent!!
For my subscription PLD resource I will be developing the following new items during the year:
- 12 new videoed writing lessons and teacher notes;
- 12 new videoed Murray-Talks about the effective teaching of writing and explanatory teacher notes.
The first of the new videoed writing lessons (including lessons for the beginning of the school year) and Murray-Talks (on ‘Timetabling a Writing Programme’ and ‘Beginning the School Literacy Year’)
will be available within a fortnight. are now all available online (there are three new video lessons and two new Murray Talks videos).
Other topics to be explored during the 2021 year include ‘Boys and Writing’, ‘Assessing Writing’ and ‘Extending Able Writers’.
Other highlights of my coming year include:
- I’m honoured to be invited as a keynote presenter at this year’s New Zealand Literacy Association Conference (to be held in Hawke’s Bay 3-5 October)
- I’ll be delivering an after-school presentation (on effective writing practices) for the Auckland Literacy Association on Tuesday 16 March. Already, 240 teachers have signed up for this.
- I’m undertaking two days of in-school writing PLD for the Tai Tokerau Literacy Association in early August
- I’ll be leading a series of Zoom lectures and workshops with teachers of students with disabilities in Sweden during February to May.
That’s it from me. I do hope that 2021 goes very well for all of you and that we get through it without any lock-downs. Fingers crossed.