Saturday, 5 May 2007

Inspirational Kids

In the last post I wrote about the challenging issues I face in my job.

I need to write a bit about how fantastic all of the kids I meet are - and I need to ask a favour.

Taihape is a small place and my goal is to give these students dreams beyond this small valley. I tell my students that they should definitely come back one day, but that it has to be a conscious choice: not one made because they had no other option.

I love Fridays. But not for the reason that I used to love Fridays when I was stuck in an office. I love Fridays because I get to teach a great bunch of Year 10 kids all day. During this class
I hope to go a little way in opening their horizons by empowering them to connect with the world and instilling in them a sense that their voice is important.

The issue this class has decided to focus on is cleaning up the Hautapu River.
The Hautapu flows around the town and is polluted by local industry and farming. The students have all set up their own blogs and are recording their progress. They are all first time bloggers and their enthusiasm is infectious. Through the internet, I want the students to learn how to find information, lobby and communicate with people around New Zealand and the world.

Yesterday I told the class that they needed to get their blogs 'out there' in the cyber world and they needed to email their link to as many overseas people that they knew. I was met with a sea of blank faces: Miss, we don't know anyone overseas!!
- One student was a mini-celeb for a second because she knew one person who lived in England and two people who lived in America.

So I taught them how to search for groups who had done a similar thing that they were trying to do. There was such a buzz in the room as they started finding out that they weren't the first group in the world to try and clean up a local river. One student managed to email a group in the USA.

Sweet Story:
I observed one student getting so excited because she was finding blogs written by people in exotic countries such as Denmark and China. I had said earlier that was a great idea to add links to sites that were relevant to their project. She called me back later on to show me that she had added a number of links to her site. She was so excited showing me. "Look Miss - this one is from AMERICA!... this one is from CHINA!" I was a little confused, as they didn't appear to have any relevance to our project... Then I realised: this student was so amazed that she could see something written by someone in another country. For her this was huge enough.

Here's where I ask the favour: Please visit our class website...
On the right-hand side, you will see links to the students' blogs. Please visit at least one of them and leave a comment - and say where you live. We are going to have a big map on the wall and we will mark where in the world (including NZ!) each email or comment has come from.

One student got a comment back yesterday from a teacher in the USA. There was yelling and screaming with excitement ...thanks so much in advance!


  1. Hey Rachel, what a cool teacher you are - wish I had a teacher like you when I was at school - I have just spent 30mins reading your students blogs of their Hautapu River project - Choice. I will keep up the interest to see how things go for them.
    Marcus (Friend & ex flatmate of Leif)

  2. Hey Rachey Baby,

    Life sounds pretty peachey eh! I've just left comments (slightly rambling) with Josh and Ari. Hope they get the brains ticking ... Will try to post some more but just email me and remind me if you ever need to - I can talk endlessly about rivers and water and pollution and anything else you like really!