Are you a hyena?

I am reading a book (as member of a book-club) called “A Tale for the Time Being” by Ruth Ozeki. On reading the following extract it occurred to me that if I had a class where bullying was happening it would be quite interesting to get students to read the extract and answer these questions anonymously.

  1. Are you a hyena?
  2. Have you been attacked by a hyena?
  3. Are there hyenas in this class? Yes/No
  4. If Yes then what are their names? 

Would these questions be considered too confronting?


“A Tale for the Time Being” by Ruth Ozeki

“Have you ever seen those nature documentaries where they show a pack of wild hyenas moving in to kill a wildebeest or a baby gazelle? They come in from all sides and cut the most pathetic animal off from the herd and surround it, getting closer and closer and staying real tight, and if Dad had happened to turn around to wave to me, it would have looked like good-natured fun, like I had lots of fun friends, gathering around me, singing out greetings in terrible English—Guddo moningu, dear Transfer Student Yasutani! Hello! Hello!—and Dad would have been reassured to see me so popular and everyone making an effort to be nice to me. And it’s usually one hyena, not always the biggest one, but one that’s small and quick and mean, who lunges first, breaking flesh and drawing blood, which is the signal for the rest of the pack to attack, so that by the time we got through the doors of the school, I was usually covered with fresh cuts and pinching bruises, and my uniform was all un-tucked with new little tears in it made by the sharp points of nail scissors that the girls kept in their pencil cases to trim their split ends. Hyenas don’t kill their prey. They cripple them and then eat them alive. Basically, it went on like that all day. They would walk by my desk and pretend to gag or sniff the air and say Iyada! Gaijin kusai! 36 or Bimbo kusai! 37 Sometimes they practiced their idiomatic English on me, repeating stuff they learned from American rap lyrics: Yo, big fat-ass ho, puleezu show me some juicy coochie, ain’t you a slutto, you even take it in the butto, come lick on my nutto, oh hell yeah. Etc. You get the idea. My strategy was basically just to ignore them or play dead or pretend I didn’t exist. I thought that maybe if I just pretended hard enough it would actually come true, and I would either die or disappear. Or at least it would come true enough for my classmates to believe it and stop tormenting me, but they didn’t. They didn’t stop until they’d chased me home to our apartment, and I ran up the stairs and locked the door behind me, panting and bleeding from lots of little places like under my arms or between my legs where the cuts wouldn’t show.”

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Blame the teachers

Drugs aren’t to blame for employers turning to overseas migrants instead of young Kiwis, it’s teachers and underperforming schools, according to ACT leader David Seymour.  Source here

Nothing to do with the parents, that’s for sure. Nothing to do with a system that encourages teaching to the test. Nothing to do with under resourced schools.  Nope – must be the teachers!


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Google Classroom or Hapara?


More by accident than design Wellington East Girls College have a % of teachers using Hapara Teacher Dashboard and some using Google Classroom.

Both these products provide fantastic opportunities to improve learning at home and in the classroom. Parents and caregivers can easily be invited to view their children work. The question is: Do you use Hapara, Classroom or both? There is obviously an overhead in using both i operations, technical support, teacher and student training and potentially cost.

For those interested in a feature by feature comparison have a look here. I suspect we will be debating the choice of one or both in the next few months.

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And the most popular device for BYOD is?

captureFrom a recent sample of 200 Year 9 and 10 students at Wellington East Girls College. WEGC are just starting their third year where Year 9 students are required to bring their own devices (BYOD). The BYOD policy is platform agnostic.

“Laptop Other” is generally Linux. “No device” means the school has to look at options to ensure the student is not disadvantaged.

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New typewriter for Digital technologies


Just arrived, Only $30. I have been meaning to get one of these for awhile. It has a few purposes namely:

  1. Teaching history of  QWERTY keyboard to Year 9’s or anyone that will listen.
  2. Warning students that if they are caught on Facebook (unauthorised) they will be asked to write their essays the old fashioned way.
  3. Teaching Year 13 students structure of CSV file ie ASCII codes for LF, CR , Bell etc…
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Puppy Pre School …


see in Lyall bay…

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Harsh lesson on complying with instructions


I have two Level 3 students that were awarded Merit for their external assessments. They should have gained Excellence however they failed to follow instructions related to font size (Ariel 12 pt) and standard margins on A4 paper. They used 11 point and narrow margins respectively. Hence the last part of their assessments was not marked -ie deemed to have exceeded 10 pages.

Fair enough I suppose. Bad luck to get a marker that noticed the font size and margins. Other students had similar transgressions but had different markers… one gained an Excellence, it could easily have been Merit. lucky for her! We do tell students the requirements…

On a slightly different note I had another two Level 3 students that I think deserved Excellence however were marked as Not Achieved and Achieved… I have asked them to apply for a re mark of their papers. At only $20, it is worth applying – I have seen students get better grades as a consequence.

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