Monday, January 30, 2012


Today we received instructions about the BMS. I wondered what the man was referring to but apparently it is the Building Management System. Basically we learnt about how the security, access, heating, lighting and ventilation systems work. A lot of it is technical and technological, with computer systems operating it. For example, in some rooms there are motion sensors and the lights come on automatically for a set period of time. There are also air sensors and some of the windows open automatically to let fresh air in. At six pm some of the external doors lock automatically. But is seems that the library is the one space that is not automated - it still requires a human to lock doors, open windows and turn the lights on and off!

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Furniture at Amesbury School

The learning suites have a variety of furniture from some quite traditional tables and chairs to funky beanbags and even 'wobbly' stools for children who find it hard to sit still.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Creating a Brand New Library - Part Three

We made good progress in the library today. The internet connection was reliable and we've now got a couple of hundred books catalogued. The volunteers have been busy taping and covering books and we've got so many volunteers they are almost working faster than we can provide tasks for them to do. We had a major tidy up in the library this afternoon as the children who start at Amesbury School next week came to visit with their families this evening.

There were a variety of activities set up for the children to do. A lot of them enjoyed drawing their faces and writing their names on the windows. There is much more glass than wall space in the school so the children will be able to write and draw on the glass. We have special pens that write on glass like a marker pen but wipe off as a powdery substance.

No one who visited the classrooms asked where the desks and chairs are. Actually we don't have classrooms. The learning areas are two large 'hubs' each with multiple 'suites'. The suites are open areas that flow into each other. Large sliding glass doors can close parts of suites off from each other but we don't think the doors will be used much. The furniture consists of tables, stools and chairs in a variety of styles and types. It's a bit hard to describe some of the more unusual styles so I'll take some photos of furniture soon. The intention is that the children will choose to work at or on the furniture that suits them best and that they will move around the space rather than have an allocated desk or table. The library is the most central room in the school which is great as it will be an integral part of the school.

A couple of older children and several adults commented that they wished they could go to primary school all over again and I heard a boy say "this school has everything". One Year 6 girl said she wants to do Year 6 twice to get more time at Amesbury. It was reassuring to get positive feedback from the parents and children, particularly as the furniture and physical set up of the learning spaces is quite different from a traditional school.

The library is very much a 'work in progress' but it also received a positive reaction from the visitors. A couple of girls are already enthusiastic about becoming student librarians. We had a table full of books available for parents to buy and donate to the school and we sold over $300 worth.

Foreground: books for sale. Background: catalogued books temporarily on the display shelves.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Creating a Brand New Library - Part Two

Chaos reigns in the library. Actually the picture makes it look worse than it really is. As far as processing the books goes it is organised chaos with piles of books in various stages of preparedness. We have a wonderful group of volunteers who are helping to process books. Some of them will have children at Amesbury School but several helpers have no direct link with the school and are generously donating their time.

The main problem we have at present is our internet link. There is all sorts of sophisticated technology being set up in the school, including several large, wall mounted, touch screen computers. You can see one on the library wall in the photo. All of the empty touchscreen boxes and some other boxes of resources ended up in the library today to add to the general chaos.

We need the internet to catalogue the library books but it is soooo slow and several times we've lost the connection altogether. This is a problem for two reasons. First, we are supposed to be a high tech school and we can't even get a decent internet connection which is kind of embarassing. Second, it is causing a big delay in processing the library books. However the tech people are still working on our IT infrastructure so hopefully it will all be sorted before the school opens next Wednesday.

Fortunately I am familiar with AccessIt, the library management software, because my brain is spinning with all the software I'm learning to use this week including My Portfolio, Knowledge Net, QR codes and RFID. However it's all very interesting and the biggest challenge so far was finding the On button on the desktop touchscreen, all in one computer!

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Creating a Brand New Library - Part One

Imagine being let loose in a children's bookshop to buy enough books to fill the fiction section of a library! Eight of us visited the Kilburnie Children's Bookshop to stock the shelves of the Amesbury School library with novels.

There is a slight problem however - plenty of books but no shelves. The shelves were supposed to be assembled last Tuesday but the manufacturers made a mistake with the finish on them (it was supposed to be a wash over pine to maintain the wood appearance but they were painted instead and they look ugly and metallic). The company admitted it made a mistake and now the shelves have to be remade. So at the moment I have a library with hundreds of lovely books - all in boxes. On the positive side there are some other exciting things in the library including fluoro orange bean bags and a Very Hungry Caterpillar!

Emergency Preparedness at Amesbury School

We had a school Emergency Preparedness session that was very useful and is clearly taken very seriously in Wellington. Even before the Christchurch earthquakes it sounds as though Wellington was taking emergency preparedness seriously. The organisation that Amesbury School is undertaking makes some schools seem woefully underprepared for emergencies. We will even be having fullscale practices where the parents come and collect the students as if it were an emergency situation to check that we have workable procedures for releasing students. There will be drills that include 'shelter inside' (e.g lockdown, chemical spill) or 'evacuate' (e.g. fire, earthquake) and drills in classtime and at break time. Arrangements are also being made to evacuate off-site to a nearby community centre if need be. Fortunately Amesbury is not in the tsunami zone so we don't have to worry about that. I did learn that if you're at Te Papa and there is a tsunami warning you should stay there - it's built to withstand tsunamis apparently. All Wellington schools have been rechecked for earthquake soundness and Newtown School has had most of its classrooms condemned. There are a whole bunch of relocatable classrooms being used there. Amesbury has been built with a high level of earthquake soundness so I feel quite safe there.

Image of Te Papa from Through the Humours Blog

Molly Moves to Wellington

A six hour journey to the Kapiti Coast, overnight in a strange house then another drive south to another house in Wellington. Molly coped just fine with all that upheaval.

I thought the transition from Te Awamutu to Wellington had gone smoothly but then the problems began. Molly threw up on the carpet (it's fairly new) three times. So I was torn between despair over the carpet and despair over my poor suffering pet. She's now fulltime on a liver management diet which she doesn't particularly like but has settled her digesitive system.

The main problem now is that she's finding the catflap a challenge to use. It has two magnets (one on the base and one on the flap) to keep it flappable but not flapping in the wind. Molly is pushing feebly at the flap and it won't open for her, although in one strong gust of Wellington wind it blew open then swung back and hit her on the nose.

So I rigged it up to make it swing open one way only so she could use a gentle push to get in. However at 4am on Saturday morning I woke to the sound of Molly hissing and when I investigated I saw a feline intruder who had entered through the catflap then couldn't get out again. The cat saw me, ran headlong at the catflap, bounced off it, rushed across the room, leapt onto the sofa, climbed up the curtains and dangled off the curtain rail. I opened the front door and the back door but it just charged madly around the house and then head butted the catflap again. Finally I got the catflap open and it fled. Hopefully that's the last we see of that mad beast. Today I've put Molly on a catflap training programme by putting her outside and wafting canned salmon in front of the catflap. The lure of salmon was enough for her to put a bit more effort into pushing the catflap open and she received several rewards of canned salmon. Now I'm just hoping the salmon treats don't upset her liver and digestive system again ...

Friday, January 6, 2012

Ten Things I'll Miss About Te Awamutu

Flowering cherry trees - the main street is beautiful in spring time.

Regent Cinema – a wonderful collection of movie memorabilia and so handy that I can catch a movie if I leave home 5 minutes before it starts.

Teasdale Street – my home in a tranquil spot yet only a short walk to the main street.

Te Awamutu Library – helpful staff and crammed with books (literally crammed with books, put some money into more space for this great community resource please Waipa District Council).

Mandarins – masses of delicious, juicy fruit from the tree in my garden.

Waikato weather – lovely warm summers.

Puahue countryside – enjoying the scenery and changing seasons as I drive to work.

Te Awamutu Squash Club – great facilities, friendly members, good times.

My friends.

My Mum.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Happy New Year

Today is January 1st 2012. It marks the first day of the year, my last week in Te Awamutu and next week I'll start a new life in Wellington. So it's a happy/sad time for me. I've enjoyed living in Te Awamutu for 14 years and I'll miss my friends and family here. But it's time for a change and I have great job opportunity in Wellington.

My year of study is almost complete, I'm finishing off the final paper during the summer semester. In two weeks I start a new job in a new city at a new school. Well the job and the school are brand new but the city has been around for a while, it's just new for me. I'll be the library based teacher at Amesbury School in Churton Park, Wellington. The school opens for the first time on February 1st 2012 and I expect it will be both exciting and challenging to be a foundation teacher at an innovative new school.

Happy New Year and Best Wishes for 2012.