The weeks before a school show

I’m a drama teacher. But this year I am a part time drama teacher. One of the joys of splitting my time between my two jobs is that I get two really rich experiences – teaching in a student-centred, MLP, MLE/ILE, brand spanking new school and working as a professional learning facilitator who supports schools around leadership and assessment.

But sometimes those two worlds collide. Today feels like a massive impact. We are thirteen days away from opening night. Our band is not quite ready, we are missing some of our key set pieces, a huge chunk of time was spent getting the programme organised, costumes are still being made, some actors had moments where they lost their nerve, we waste a lot of time in transitions etc.

I know from experience that all of these are normal but today feels particularly trying. Balancing and juggling two jobs has been difficult at times but this week is feeling quite rough – three days working out of time as a facilitator, full day rehearsals during the week and weekend, and a mix of meetings and lessons as well.

So why am I blogging? I’m fearful that we may not quite make it to a polished show as there are too many variables at play. Last year’s inaugural show came together at the last minute but this was not a scripted performance. By devising our own work (which did have challenges of its own) we were able to modify and adapt. Also, I was available 7 days per week if needed. And I’m not this year. I know that I am not indispensible and am only one person. And that is what is getting me through – the performing arts team at HPSS is simply wonderful, the bulk of the students are committed and on to it, we have other supports in the school – like our delightful Sarah Wakeford, Learning Partnership Leader extraordinaire!

Alice in Wonderland will open on the 1st of December at HPSS. I would imagine that the days and hours leading up to opening night will be very chaotic – as all shows often are – but the curtains will open with an excited group of students ready to go!



Hope has been on my mind recently. My husband describes me as the eternal optimist. I have great expectations of the possible, of people and of situations. The glass is always half full.

A glass half full A glass half full of blue water, at an angle by Michael of Scott

A glass half full
A glass half full of blue water, at an angle. By Michael of Scott

What is hope?

hope [həʊp]


1. (sometimes plural) a feeling of desire for something and confidence in the possibility of its fulfilment his hope for peace was justifiedtheir hopes were dashed
2. a reasonable ground for this feeling there is still hope
3. a person or thing that gives cause for hope
4. a thing, situation, or event that is desired my hope is that prices will fall


1. (tr; takes a clause as object or an infinitive) to desire (something) with some possibility of fulfilment we hope you can come I hope to tell you
2. (intr; often foll by for) to have a wish (for a future event, situation, etc.)
3. (tr; takes a clause as object) to trust, expect, or believe we hope that this is satisfactory
I had the joy and privilege of recently spending the bulk of one week jetting around the country working with Classical Studies teachers on designing effective, connected courses. I am hopeful that harnessing curse design will empower teachers and result in better learning outcomes for students across NZ – a lofty ambition.

When I came back to some powerful learning around restorative practice on Friday, at Hobsonville Point, the final circle time was devoted to us (as colleagues) choosing adjectives which describe a member of our team. The lovely Pete chose ‘hopeful’ for me and his description was poetic and apt. And honestly, a smidge too close for a compliment for me to deal with on a Friday afternoon when I was really tired.

Yet, as a Classical Scholar, I understand that when Pandora released the evils of humanity into the world, it was hope that she retained in the jar – is hope therefore a bane or a blessing for humanity? This has been playing on my mind over the last few frantic weeks of term. I wonder if hopefulness makes me just keep chugging away, ticking things off my to do list, panicking slightly as the end of term loomed and the to-do list for learning communities, hubs and our teaching modules continued to grow. For Pandora, she trapped hope in the jar. Is hope supposed to be a monster unleashed or a refuge from said monsters?

To be hopeful helps me so much in shaping the exciting new school, Hobsonville Point Secondary School.  I am hopeful that the vision of our school will be visible, present and valid, I am hopeful that students will be always be at the centre of learning and teaching, I am hopeful that we will harness the NZC and, eventually, NCEA in order to  empower our students.


As the term wore on, the levels of awareness of the enormity of setting up our school loomed.  We were privileged to have the future foundation students of Hobsonville Point Secondary School come in for an orientation day. This was brilliant. I enjoyed working with the students in my hub and all of the students in Taheretikitiki learning community. The students were amped, the coaches excited at the sight of students again (it had been a long time) and a real highlight for me was the activity Sally organised for each learning hub to do – the dream tree. Students and coaches each added a leaf to the a large tree on the wall. On the leaves, students were encouraged to record their dreams, aspirations and hopes for themselves at HPSS and beyond.
When the parents came for the evening event, they were also encouraged to add a leaf to the tree. They could record their hopes and dreams – for themselves, the school, their students – and feel part of our school community. The reality of ‘powerful partnerships’ – part of our school’s vision – was alive and kicking that day.
The next two days were spent working in our learning communities to develop and refine that part of our curriculum. Taheretikitiki learning community consists of Bryce, Danielle, Lea, Steve and myself. Three brilliant days were spent in our hubs – exploring the learning model (my being, my learning and my community), devising rules of engagement for our learning community and creating learning resources to support each other, and the other coaches, when working in learning hubs. Working as learning hub to create effective learning hubs gave me great cheer and filled my with hope. Hope in this case to stave off the the naysayers about our vision for Hobsonville Point and those who have ‘mocked’ how much work we have done this year.
When I look at a definition of hope (as both a noun and a verb), I feel that hope has to be a blessing.