NZCTU Biennial Women’s Conference

I spent Friday and Saturday at the NZCTU (New Zealand Council of Trade Unions) Biennial Women’s Conference.

This is the third conference I’ve attended. I find I come away uplifted by the new contacts, renewed contacts and conversations that happen over two days. It’s a chance to walk outside of my own little bubble that is NZEI (New Zealand Educational Institution) and talk with women from other unions – both in the education sector and outside of the sector.

I like to mingle – so the first day I found myself sitting with an old friend from MUNZ (Maritime Union of New Zealand) and some PPTA (Post Primary Teachers’ Association) women and on the second day I sat with some women from MERAS (Midwifery Representation and Advisory Services) and TEU (Tertiary Education Union). At meal times I mixed even further and ate and talked with women from the CTU, PSA (Public Service Association) & NZDWU (NZ Dairy Workers’ Union).

At the end of the conference I was one of the people asked to reflect on our two days together so I’ll repeat here what I said there and then add some more.

  • Rose Ryan, Director of Athena Research, said “The more things change the more they stay the same.”
  • Laila HarrĂ© , National Secretary NDU (National Distribution Union), talked about translating passion into action.
  • Laila Harre speaking at nzctu womens conference

  • The Friday Panel discussion talked about cultural issues that Maori and Pasifika women face that are totally unknown to Pakeha/European women.
  • Louise Tarrant, General Secretary LHMU (Liquor Hospitality and Misc Union), gave us this quote from Helen Keller “One can never consent to creep when one feels an impulse to soar.” – How many people are aware that Helen Keller was a political activist?
  • Louise tarrant from LHMU Australia speaking to nzctu womens conference

  • Helen Kelly, President of the NZCTU talked about succession planning and a union for the 21st Century.
  • Helen kelly addressing the nzctu womens conference

  • Cross union discussions – both formal and informal – it doesn’t matter where we come from, we have a common purpose and together we are stronger!

A real demonstration of the common purpose came when a PPTA woman asked me where she could buy one of the NZEI Support Staff T-shirts (produced for our current campaign) because she wanted to wear it at school and show her support for the Support Staff campaign. It doesn’t matter that sometimes our two unions are at cross purposes – this is a campaign that matters to us both.

Important message

NZEI & PPTA supporting Support Staff

This week Primary School Teachers across NZ will get a pay increase as negotiated by NZEI before the 2008 election. We are some of the lucky ones as there is now a wage freeze set in place by the National Government. (With the cost of living rising that means we’re getting a negative increase!) I strongly suspect that there will be some cross-union support being called for (and given) over the next few months. What affects one of us, affects all of us.

And to finish here’s an extra verse to the Woody Guthrie classic: Union Maid.

A woman’s life is hard, even with a union card
She’s got to stand on her own two feet, not to be a servant of the male elite
It’s time to make a stand, keep working hand in hand
For there’s a job that’s got to be done, and a fight that’s got to be won.

Mentoring and Motivation

Full links can be found on my wiki site

This was a workshop presented by Perry Rush from Island Bay School at an NZEI Wellington District Council “Staff Wellbeing” Seminar.

Just some rough notes until i can get some urls from perry …

He quoted Judith Aitkin?

Chn are compelled to be at school – it is therefore our responsibility to make sure they take something wonderful and worthwhile out of their 10+ years invested in the school system

Educational research from Graham Nuttal and ? EDwards (reminded me a bit of some of the things that David Warlick talked about) – we do what we do because that’s how we were taught / we do what we do because we learned from educators who did it that way because they learned it from educators who did it that way …

Modelling from the top – example of sharing his own appraisal with the staff – using an anonymous survey forum to get feedback; then sharing the results with the staff; sharing his goals concerning the areas he needed to improve in with them – and lastly sharing with them what he has done to meet those goals

the reggio emilia approach to learning

Oxford Dictionary definition of teachers : dispensers of facts and knowledge

I note that says
a person who teaches or instructs, esp. as a profession; instructor.

and my Collins dictionary say A person whose occupation is teaching

Teachers, however, are not merely dispensers of fact and knowledge!

We need to:

  • pose provocative questions
  • show the teacher as a learner

There is powerful teaching done through asking questions (instead of telling facts) and even more powerful teaching done by being quiet and letting the children figure things out.

Think outside the box

Dream the dream you are passionate about

Our kids deserve the absolute best

Maximum passion – maximum energy

Inclusiveness in Education

I attended an NZEI seminar yesterday at NZEI in Wellington for members of the Women‘s and Rainbow Networks.

Building Human Rights Communities in Education

The presenter of the above session was Jill Chrisp from the Human Rights Commission. The session was inspiring and thought provoking. She talked about being HR advocates vs HR violators and specifically looked at the education sector. We brainstormed areas within our own schools where HR were advocated/violated. By far the largest area was that of special needs children in our schools.

Some quotes:

  • Education is both a human right in itself and an indispensable means of realising other human rights.
  • Right to Education Framework
    • Availability
    • Accessibility
    • Acceptability
    • Adaptability
  • Rights, Respect and Responsibility (RRR) Initiative
    Cape Breton, Canada & Hampshire, United Kingdom

  • a cross-border primary human rights education initiative in Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland
  • The right to education is an essential feature of democracy. The development of the citizen is the fundamental objective of the education system.
  • Education should not be solely construed as the preparation of an individual for the workforce.

We then split up into sector groups to discuss what the Right to Education framework meant for us in our different sectors.

Sometimes, when you work in a school that actively works to make sure the rights of all individuals are met, it’s important to see the bigger picture and realise that not all teachers work in the same conditions.

Inclusive Education – Are we there yet?

This was broken into two parts – the first led by Trish Grant, IHC Advocate and the second by Missy Morton. This looked at inclusion of special needs children into our classrooms and the problems faced by the children, their families and their teachers.

Points from this session:


The whole day was valuable for me – I was able to network with other Rainbow network people as well as others interested in the whole inclusiveness issue. I also saw IHC in a new light – I guess I’m guilty of seeing only their public face not the advocacy one that is almost more important than the public one. It was also good to be provoked regarding Human Rights issues – it is a right that all children receive a quality education – what implications does that then have for me in my classroom?

Another thing that my sector group (Rainbow) raised was the whole diversity issue – we talk about our classrooms containing a diverse range of children from many different nationalities and cultures but look at the majority of our teachers – mainly white, middle class women!!

  • We discussed how it is easier to be a woman and ‘out’ than it is to be a man and ‘out’;
  • we discussed how hard it is for a man to be involved in Early Childhood Education because of the implications that they are there for ulterior motives;
  • we also discussed how hard it is for some GLBT teachers to attend national/regional meetings if they are during the school week because their circumstances preclude them being out in their workplace
    • even though there is all the advocacy for GLBT teachers, the fact remains that many schools are conservative and that makes it difficult for those teachers to be out
  • and we discussed the need to network with other GLBT teachers – both in our own regions and nationally

I hope this will be a start of a group of us networking – the Rainbow people and those teachers interesting in nutting out how exactly we work for full inclusive education in NZ.